5 Hot Tips to Survive SXSW


By Miss Alex White, 8 year veteran of SXSW

Miss Alex White has performed 56 shows with White Mystery at eight South by Southwest conferences in Austin, Texas since 2008, and plays seven more showcases this year. Here are five important survival tips for fans and bands visiting SXSW in 2018! Special thanks to Rhiannon Mach for helping organize this year’s guide.


Before you go on any trip, check the weather forecast a few days before you leave. It seems simple, but it’s a step a lot of people skip. For us Chicagoans visiting Austin, it might be snowing in the Midwest, but in Texas, it could be 90 degrees. On the flip side, there have been instances of cold snaps where the temperature drops to 40 degrees at night in Austin. Because of this, it’s important to be prepared for any type of weather. I recommend a variety of t-shirts and hoodies, a jean jacket, and a leather jacket that can all be layered and worn at the same time. Another important item to make sure you have is comfortable footwear (this includes comfortable socks!) for lots of walking. If you’re susceptible to burning under the hot sun, bring along a hat and sunscreen. Be prepared to be as comfortable as you can in any type of weather and throughout all the travel.


Austin, Texas is a small town compared to Brooklyn or Chicago, though the city limits do sprawl outward and the city becomes congested with the influx of tourists from worldwide locations. Austin is overwhelmed with the amount of people that come for SXSW, and this can make it extra difficult to get around the city. For example, it will take you a really, really long time to go a short distance at South by Southwest. There’s a lot of traffic, a shortage of cabs for the amount of fans, and limited public transportation. Because of all of this, cab rides take longer and cost more. SXSW also offers a unique form of transport called “pedicabs,” which is vehicle that is a cross between a bicycle and a rickshaw. These pedicab rides seem nice when you’re desperate for a ride between venues, just be aware, these convenient rides can cost just as much as a yellow cab. Another handy tool is the Google Maps traffic estimate. Also, consider the distance and locations of the showcase you want to attend and make sure they logistically make sense. A lot of fans find themselves disappointed when they arrive and realize the difficulty of getting around the city, though this can be cured with a little planning!


SXSW is an a jam-packed event, and you may find yourself at showcases all day and all night. Pulling 12 hour days can make it hard to stay hydrated and eat healthy foods. This can be solved with a reusable water bottle and packing healthy snacks like trail mix and apples. If you forget this step, you will be stuck spending a lot of money on bar food or food truck food that you could end up waiting 45 minutes for. Be sure to consider the heat, it’s so hot in Austin that you want to avoid eating too much salt. Bring almonds, walnuts and a water bottle to save time and money!


When you’re at SXSW, you and thousands of other folks are using your phones constantly for Google Maps, Instagram Live, Tweeting, etc. The reality is the battery on your phone is going to drain quickly, and there is a high demand for a small supply of electrical outlets. Be prepared by bringing a backup rechargeable charger. A few years back, a drunk fan accidentally unplugged the entire sound system at Cheer Up Charlies during Shannon & the Clams set, just to charge a phone! By packing a charger, you won’t end up as desperate to find a plug in as that guy!


Bands playing showcases at SXSW need a game plan for parking their gear vehicle at SXSW, especially for load-in. Make sure that when you advance with your promotor for your show that you square away parking otherwise you could end up lugging your equipment 4 blocks or paying $40 for parking (which can be a bummer if you’re playing the show for free). Along with other questions about the show, be clear about parking, and you’ll be happy you did!

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