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The Ten Must-Know Tips for SXSW First Time Attendees

South by South West (SXSW) which is the interactive, film and music festival in Austin Texas annually in March, can be intimidating for first-timers. So instead of worrying and being overwhelmed by it, just be prepared, so you can enjoy the immense awesomeness of the event. 

Here are my tips for being prepared, and having fun at SX (South By): 

1. Pick the right amount of days to attend: Although it may seem like you must attend for a week and not miss a single thing…that may be the wrong way to approach SX. Instead, pick the days where you will get the most value out of attending, whether it’s the panels, the parties, and/or when the people you are hoping to meet up with will be there. I say an average of 3 to 5 days is more than enough to have a great time, and reap the rewards.  

2. RSVP: Before you go to SX, make sure you RSVP for the parties you want to attend. Lines can be crazy, and admittance does not always happen if you aren’t on the list. How to find the parties…..check out Eventbrite, twitter, Facebook and other places where people are talking about the best happenings. 

3. Foursquare: Think checking in is silly? You won’t at SXSW. It is one of the best ways to keep track of where your friends are, when they got there, and who else is at the event. Download it, use it, and live by it when you’re there.  

4. GroupMe: Another app, which is sometimes overlooked for its true value. I think this app can sometimes be just as helpful if not more than Foursquare when at SXSW. Instead of texting a myriad of people in order to find out where they are, make a list of the people you want to stay in touch with during your time there. That way you can easily send one message, which goes to your whole group of friends. Great for meeting up, getting info, and more. 

5. Google Maps: New city? No idea where you’re going? I hope you have a smart phone because otherwise you’re a bit screwed when it comes to getting around. Use Google maps, it’s your friend to find all the hot parties and events going on throughout your time there.  

6. SXSW App: Keep track of all the panels and sessions while you’re on the go rather than carrying around a bunch of bulky paper. The lighter you travel, the better you’ll feel.  

7. Pinterest: Another great source of the happenings going on before, during, and after SXSW. Thought it was just for girls pinning their favorite clothes, dream houses, and wedding ideas? Definitely not. Check it out.  

8. Don’t forget the following items: (a) cell phone charger because you will run out of cell phone power throughout the day; (b) battery case for your smartphone so you don’t have to rely on an outlet to charge your phone; (c) Granola bars for those times you just need to have a quick snack; layers because the temperature may be gorgeous during the day but it will drop like a hat in the evening. 

9. Pace yourself: It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. They are long eventful days, so don’t burn out on the first day alone.  

10. Enjoy Yourself:  Don’t forget to try some of the amazing Texan food and check out the city of Austin while you’re there. There’s definitely more to the city than just the convention center.  

Ready, Set….have fun at SXSW! See you there! 


Image Credit: Dave Delaney