Bring your ID — You’ll get carded. Deal with it.
Have both cash and card — Having cash on hand makes life easier. Whether it’s for drinks or band merch, you’ll be glad you have an extra $20 in your pocket. Your debit (or credit, if you’re fancy) card could save you that long walk back from God knows where with a cab ride.
Wear good walking shoes — If you plan on being out and about, please remember your poor little piggies! We know those high heels or brand new leather boots you didn’t have time to break in look cool, but how cool will you look when your feet are covered in blisters and you can barely hobble down the street? The answer is not cool. Not cool at all.
Bring a jacket — It’s March in Austin and the weather is utterly unpredictable. It could be 80 degrees when you leave your apartment at noon and sink to a cool 60 degrees by the time the sun goes down. Be prepared.
Wear sunscreen — South By Southwest has many wonderful free events during the day, like parties and shopping markets. Many of these events take place outside, so bring a little sunscreen to protect your face. It’s harder to pick up the singer of Vampire Weekend when you look like a lobster.
Bring a watch — Bring a wristwatch or a pocket watch. Cell phone service within the city gets straight-up janky when you cram thousands of people into a handful of city blocks, so bring a watch. You’ll always know what time it is. Always.
Protect your hearing with earplugs — Your hearing is a very precious thing, so bring a pair of earplugs with you. And, chances are, you’ll have five free pairs by the end of the week anyway, so put them to good use!
Remember to hydrate — Just because there’s free beer and sponsored drinks available everywhere doesn’t mean that’s all you should consume. Remember to drink water, especially if you’re out during the day.
Bring hand sanitizer — There are a lot of people at SXSW. These people will be touching each and every surface in Austin. Now think about all of the germs on all of those hands. Think about the Porta Potties and club bathrooms. Now think about all that street food you want to eat right after you touched those surfaces that have been touched by all the people at SXSW and their germs. Use your hand sanitizer.
Make clear plans with whoever you’re meeting — I hear there’s an abyss between Austin and deep outer space, where all the missed text messages, phone calls and voicemails made at SXSW are floating about, never to be read, answered or heard of again. With the aforementioned janky cell-phone service, you should make sure you’ve made definite plans while your communication avenues are open.
Make a new discovery — We’ve all been there: that one oh-so underground band you thought no one knew about is playing and the line is out the door, leaving you no chance of getting in. It really is a bummer when the word gets out. But never fear, there are more than 100 bands playing every night, all within walking distance of one another. Don’t be afraid to go to a show with a lineup of bands you’ve never heard of. Who knows? You could discover your new favorite band!
Know your limits — SXSW may be a weeklong party, but that doesn’t mean you should have a weeklong hangover. Know when you’ve had enough to drink, know when you’ve had enough greasy trailer food and know when you need to go home and sleep.