The Essential SXSW Guide: What To Bring, What To Wear, Expect and More!

We’re less than a month away from SXSW in Austin. If you’re going, you’ve probably already booked your flight, found a few places to couch surf, and RSVP’d to the dopest events.

If you’re a newbie to this mecca of an event, you’re probably wondering what you should pack and you’ve come to the right place to find out! This will be our fifth year attending the conference so you’re in go hands.

Here’s our essential SXSW Guide! We’ve included everything from what to wear, what to bring, and who to see.

  • Bring a charger or upgrade your cell phone to have an additional battery pack. Between taking notes, confirming meeting and checking out your SXSW on their app, it will kill your juice! So make sure to bring your charger, portable cell phone charger or get a battery charger case.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and stay casual, cool, and comfortable. SXSW days tend to be pretty long, so plan to walk a lot. A typical day in SXSW can start at 10AM and easily end at 12PM at a music venue.
  • Keep it fresh! Make sure to bring a travel size deodorant and mints or gum. You’ll have some long days ahead of you and you’ll be talking a lot, so make sure to stay nice and minty fresh.
  • Brand yourself! Make sure to bring business cards, downloadable cards, merch items and/or stickers to give to the people you meet. The more creative the better!
  • Bring earbuds! Keep your ears safe and enjoy more music.

Here are some general SXSW Tips to make the most of your time there:

  • Set up meetings on the SXSW Social site. SXSW allows you to connect via their site with all attendees of the conference. Make sure to update your profile on the SXSW Social site to include a profile picture and corresponding links. Profiles with pictures get more engagement that others.
  • Remember to exchange telephone numbers, Skype accounts or Whatsapp when you confirm meetings. Remember that some attendees are from different locations around the world and they might not necessarily have a US number. Make sure to also  exchange LinkedIn profiles so you can identify the person you’ll be meeting with.
  • Best place to schedule meetings are:
    • Hilton Downtown at 500 E 4th St, Austin, TX 78701: This is the hub for all meeting aside from the Austin Convention Center. It’s just a minute way and there are tons of tables and seating, including a Starbucks in the lobby.
    • For a more casual drink and “up scale” experience head to the lobby of The Driskill Bar located at 604 Brazos St, Austin, TX 78701.
  • Download the SXSW Go app.It will be a great way to plan your panels, events and the latest.  I personally also love its nifty little tool that syncs with your Spotify account and makes recommendations on new artist you might like based on your listening habits and also people you follow already.
  • Check out the trade show. The SXSW trade show features about 500 companies and it has some of the newest companies in town. From new tech, country pavilions and music services, you’ll be exposed to a range of forward-thinking exhibitors – from promising startups to established industry leaders.
  • Don’t miss the Flatstock Exhibition.  Presented by the American Poster Institute, Flatstock will display the works of the world’s top gig poster artists. The show features posters of varying styles, colors and techniques for sale by the talented artists who created them.

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  • Go to panels. SXSW brings some the best minds in music, technology and film. Make sure to attend panels to get some great insight. While you’re there, make sure to take notes! Additionally make sure to also note down the panelists. Its always a great way to connect and network with these individuals.
  • Expect official events to be packed. SXSW music events tend to feature the best indie artists for free, hence most of these will typically have very long lines and will be sold out. If you’re wanting to check out the latest artists make sure to get to the venue early.
  • Go discover some new music. One of my favorite things about SXSW is being able to discover new music. There are 100’s of new artists playing everyday, go check out some shows. You’ll never know if you’ll stumble on your next favorite act.

  • Last but not least, pace yourself with the booze and stay hydrated. SXSW is a 9 day conference and being hungover for an important meeting or packed day is no fun! Make sure to eat when you have a break and drinks lots of water!

Enjoy and have a great and productive SXSW!