When I head downtown for SXSW, I don't really see my apartment again for at least 18 hours. That means, I have to be prepared for a variety of situations. Those of you who are veterans to the festival already know that there are going to be a lot of people trying to give you a lot of things that vary in their usefulness and desirability. Free Mophie Juice Pack if I tweet using your hashtag? Yes please! Free frisbee with your App's logo on it? I'm sorry sir, you no longer exist in my universe. Goodbye. Oh, and you can fuck right off with that flyer. Don't even try it!
I've broken things into three categories. Remember when you went to Summer Camp and you got that list of things to bring? I used to love those lists. The first list is your Must Haves. Now, admittedly the concept of a must have is very subjective so, let's assume that you're me for the purposes of this list. This is what you as me have to have. Ideally, we can cram all or most of what's on this list into a small messenger back or even fanny pack. That's right, I'm suggesting you wear a fanny pack. They're handy!
- Government-Issued ID Card
- Hand Sanitizer
- Tissues/Napkins/Paper Towels
- Phone Charger
- Comfortable Shoes
- Analog Information Source
- Cash ($1's & $5's for tipping)
- Mints/Gum etc.
- Earplugs (to muffle the people talking around you)
- A General Sense of Appreciation and Awe
- Bus Pass/Bus Knowledge
I broke-up sunglasses, sunscreen and hat on my must-have but really you just need some combination of those things and that's mostly for those of you hitting the day-party scene. However, even if you're doing SXSW film there will be times in which you're standing in line in the sun so remember sun protection. Also, you're going to have your phone and charger with you but consider it a bonus if you find someplace to plug in your phone and/or you have cell-service. That's also the reason I suggest you have an analog information source. Don't presume you're going to be able to access digital information on your phone. Even if you have downloaded pdf files or screen-captured the info you want, your phone may die before you get to use that information.
I made sure to include food on the must-have list this year because it's easy to lose track of food consumption during the festival. When you're creating your daily schedule allow a couple of hour-long breaks for food. You're going to need something to soak up all of that alcohol. Austin's bus system is cheap and easy to use but it's going to be overcrowded and running WAY off schedule. Plan ahead, learn the routes that will get you to and from your bed and downtown. We have cabs, and Car2Go and Uber and all that but learning the bus is a great safety net in case all of those other options fail. Check out CapMetro online now. Access to bicycles is also outrageously handy during SXSW but it can be tough to find a spot to lock it up. This year we also have the option of the Austin B Bike. It's new to our city so I haven't tried it yet but I have a feeling I'm going to be taking advantage of this new service at some point during the festival.
It'd Be Nice to Haves
- Spare Socks
- Extra Phone Battery
- Clean, Empty, Refillable Water Bottle
- Hand Lotion
- Emory Board
- Eyeglasses Clean Cloth
- Nail Clippers
- Tooth Flossers
- Lots of Cash
- Kindle/Analog Book
- Deodorant (Non-melting)
- Travel-Size Mouthwash
The it'd be nice list is pretty self-explanatory. These are things that make the day a little bit nicer. The spare socks can be especially refreshing. I almost added "some form of portable seat" to this list because that's the one thing I'm always on the hunt for, someplace to put my ass. However, I feel like if I were in a crowded bar/venue and someone hit me with one of those folding stools while walking by, I might freak out on them. With that being said, I know that there will be a point next week when I'm standing in line fantasizing about one of those stupid camping stools.
- Jelly Shoes
- Sandals (Even super-cute ones)
- White Girl-Wasted in Daylight
- General Disregard for Your Fellow Human/The Planet
- Cell Phone Photos Using Flash
- Cell Phone Video Shot Whilst Dancing
- Selfies With Your Back to the Band
- Conversations in Front of the Stage While the Band is Performing
- Dudes With Ponytails
- A Lack of Tip Money for Bartenders/Waitstaff
The don't haves list is mostly selfish and I admit the use of tenses and phrasing is suspect at best. However, each of these points is based on real life experience. Each one of these items made the list because I've seen people doing these things and it really harshes my mellow. I accept that I will have to deal with most of these violations and I will accept them in that moment but if this post prevents even one person from wearing Jelly Shoes then my job is done.