I Survived SXSW (and Lessons Learned)

SXSW can be described in one word: madness. Although this blog post is a little bit overdue, I really do want to share my SXSW experience. It was both exhausting and fun. My bf and I went to SXSW during the music weekend in hopes of seeing some artists, which we kind of did. Before the trip, we made sure to RSVP to every single event possible — and that was was overwhelming and exhausting.  When I was endlessly researching and shuffling through all the events and Twitter posts, I knew that it was just the beginning.

I’m pretty sure I am cursed. Everywhere I travel to, I bring rain..okay not every time, but a good 80%. Which is why I was not at all surprised that during SXSW, it was raining during the two most important days: Friday & Saturday. And you guessed it — the sun came out Sunday, the day I left.

SXSW - RainBut rain or shine, my bf and I managed to make the most of our time. Our first stop was at The Windish Agency Party where we waited 1.5 hours to see ODESZA. Sad to miss BORNS, but so worth it to see ODESZA perform. This picture inaccurately portrays how we were feeling after half an hour in the rain. It’s actually quite cold and miserable, but sometimes it’s worth it. Tip: If there’s a slight chance of rain, bring rain boots! These things are serious life savers.

Later that night, we waited in line for 3 hours only to realize that we weren’t getting into this one event so we left. Hopeless from our failure, we decided that the next day none of our time will be spent waiting in line. Instead we wandered and explored, which was fun. We collected so many freebies. And freebies always make up for lost time! Not really, but it does help.

So to help future SXSW noobs like us, here are my top 5 key takeaways from SXSW:

1. Use Twitter Religiously 

Go on Twitter and follow SXSW-related accounts before the event. This way you can RSVP to all the free events.

Twitter is a great resource. Use it know how long lines are, where free food, what parties are poppin’, what to do, what not to do, etc. When you have a question or want details about an event, just tweet at the main SXSW accounts and use the appropriate hashtags. For example, after waiting in line for 3 hours and leaving, I asked Twitter where to go next.

Also, you can enter sweepstakes for VIP upgrade and entry to events. I entered a sweepstake and won VIP passes to the Hype Hotel Party which was awesome — no lines, free drinks and live performances!

2. Don’t Wait in Line for More Than 2 Hours 

Just remember that priority is given to badge holders and wristbands. If you’ve barely made progress after 2 hours, then it’s best to move on. I know, we’ve all been there — ” But what if by the time I leave the line starts moving? Or but I’ve waited so long, so I might as well wait longer…” No, just leave and never look back!

3. Get a Free Official SXSW Guest Pass at Multiple Locations

Some events will only allow you to enter if you have these guest passes, such as the McDonald’s event this year. There’s no line to get these passes and they allow you entry to certain shows and showcases. Definitely worth getting!

4. Uber Will Be Expensive

If you’re far, I definitely do not recommend Uber. They had a carpool Uber special during SXSW, but that didn’t save us much money. We spent about $60 on Uber the first day, so it was more cost efficient for us to drive and park in a garage for $20. At one point in the night, Uber fares were 6x the original rate!

Plan accordingly.

5. Not Every Event is *FREE* (even if it says it is)

During the last night of SXSW, almost every party had a line and a cover charge. Some events will say free online, but will make you pay if you didn’t RSVP, so RSVPs do matter! It seems that parties/venues were charging entry fees, because it’s the last day and demand is high.

And yes, I did eat and tried some blog-worthy new restaurants in Austin that I’ll be sure to feature in my next post!

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