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Leave The Flip-Flops: How to Survive SXSW

You see it every year at South By Southwest, and it breaks your heart. Teeming masses flooding the streets of Austin whose early smiles shift to a zombie-like bewilderment by their third day in town. Yes, SXSW and SXSWi is a blast with all the music, movies and technology. But if you don’t take the necessary precautions you can end up like my sister did one year: tossing up breakfast tacos at the airport.

With that mental image in mind, we present the SXSW &SXSWi Survival Kit. Follow these simple steps to make the most of your experience.

Dress for Warm Weather
Let me take you back to SXSW 2009. I arrive from the middle March tundra of Boston to the sun-soaked green of Austin. It’s 85 degrees, and I proceed to sweat my way through the week. Bring clothes that are appropriate for warmer weather: T-shirts, shorts, etc.

Dress for Cold Weather
Let me take you back to SXSW 2010. I live in Austin. A cold front has moved in from Canada. Residents are bundled up in wool socks, gloves and shivering within their insulated coats. Visitors were less lucky since many expected Cancun-style weather. Don’t make the same mistake. Texas weather can swing from one extreme to another. Bring at least some warm clothing.

There’s an App for That
If you haven’t downloaded the SXSW Mobile app, take a few minutes to do it now. There are so many performances, panels and possibilities that keeping track can be a burden. With a scheduler, Gowalla integration and RSS capabilities, the app can simplify your life while on the go.

Lose the Flip-Flops
I hope you enjoy walking, because you’re going to be doing a lot of it. Transportation is scarce during SXSW and the events are spread out. Comfortable, durable footwear is definitely a must if you want to survive with your arches still arching.

Your SXSW Is So Bright
You know how you’re not supposed to look directly at the sun? Austin can be a lot like staring directly into the sun. Bring a good pair of shades or you’ll have a headache by high noon.

Realistic iPhone Expectations
Me, I don’t normally have complaints about cell phone service out here. But you drop thousands of gadget-loving geeks in one city all of a sudden and it can be a real drag. Lack of service is often a complaint of visitors as the system is taxed by the sudden influx of people. That goes doubly for all the businesses whose modest WiFi is in high demand.

Medical Supplies
Germs and allergens, my friend. They’ll be in abundance. I recommend having the following readily available: hand sanitizer (some of the venues you’ll be in – well, just trust me), Emergen-C, Ibuprofen or Tylenol and antacids for all that spicy food you’ll be eating. Lastly, if you are prone to allergies, you’ll want all your meds…flonase, Claritin, the whole kaboodle. Austin is famous for its allergies.

Soften The Blow
If you’re staying for the music, you’ll want to drop a few bucks for earplugs. Sustained loud music will have your ears ringing by the second morning. A good pair of plugs will keep your drums safe from the banging of bands’ drums.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
I can’t stress this enough. Every year, far too many people don’t drink enough water and end up sick and dehydrated. Don’t make a rookie mistake. Keep water close by at all times and you’ll be fresh every morning.

Got any tips I haven’t thought of? Share them with the world by commenting below.

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