2017 SXSW Survival Guide

Click here to check out the full 2017 SXSW music festival lineup, from March 13-19! Continue reading for everything you need to survive SXSW 2017.

So you’re attending South By Southwest, this year? Awesome! Now, it’s time to lay down some logistics so you can figure out how to get around, what to pack, and skim through the festival’s FAQ, etc. Or, you can take advantage of someone else doing all the dirty work for you. Voila! Consider this your insider SXSW cheat sheet, to optimize your experience and maximize your fun.

SXSW Austin Airport


Consider yourself lucky if you manage to get a direct flight into Austin. On the bright side, once you arrive, the airport is only about 20 minutes away from downtown, the epicenter of all the SXSW action. The SXSW website is a great resource for all attendees, flying, both, domestically and internationally.

SXSW Shuttle
If you’ve booked a downtown hotel, you’ll want to plan on walking to the various convention venues. If you’re outside of downtown, you may want to get a hotel shuttle pass. The shuttle hits over 50 hotels outside the downtown area and run from roughly 9 AM to 2:30 AM!  The cost is: $120 for a 9-day pass, $80 for a 5-day pass or $20 for a single ride. The hotels on the route are listed on the SXSW website and shuttle tickets can be purchased here. This is a great option, however, past attendees have voiced concern that the shuttle does not run on a set time or schedule.

SXSW Transportation

Car Rentals & Taxis
If walking isn’t an option and you don’t trust the shuttle, go for the rental car. More info about car rentals and street closures can be found here. If you book through Enterprise, you can score yourself a discount with the code L65SXSW (PIN: SXS).

Taxis are scarce during SXSW, but feel free to hit up these guys:

▪Yellow Cab Austin – (512) 452-9999

▪Lone Star Cab – (512) 836-4900

▪Austin Cab Company – (512) 478-2222

Public Transit

Try Austin’s public transit, Capital Metro, as a convenient and inexpensive way to get around. Some routes may be different during the festival, but all that info can be found here.



Hotels begin selling out in October for this mid-March event. Hopefully, you’ve already gotten this far and are all set with your lodging accommodations. If not, revert to the SXSW website for its really comprehensive section all about booking hotels, including recommendations for the best ones and even a hotel map so you can select the best area for your needs.

SXSW Lodging


For all you music festival goers that enjoy roughing it, there are campsites nearby. Explore the sites listed below:

▪Austin Lone Star RV Resort

▪7009 S IH 35

▪Austin, TX 78744

▪McKinney Falls State Park

▪5808 McKinney Falls Pkwy.

▪Austin, TX 78744

▪Emma Long Metropolitan Park

▪1706 City Park Rd.

▪Austin, TX 78730

▪Hippie Hollow Park / McGregor Park

▪7000 Comanche Trl.

▪Austin, TX 78732

▪Leander NW Austin KOA

▪1351 County Road 269

▪Leander, TX 78641

Alternative Lodging
Enter technology. If you still can’t figure out where to lay your head, Air BNB provides an innovative alternative to the traditional hotel stay. Click here to see remaining availability in Austin during the SXSW music weekend. Additionally, SXSW also has a new “Alternative Lodging” section on their website, in addition to AirBNB recommendations. Click here for more info.

Lastly, let us state the obvious. If you’ve got any friends who live in Austin that’ll let you crash on their couch for free – go for it. Make it easy on yourself and your pocketbook and reconnect with your buddies via Facebook or Twitter!

SXSW What To Wear


Austin is a young and trendy city, so dress accordingly. While Austin is smack dab in the middle of Texas, remember the weather fluctuates a lot in March with highs in the upper 70s and lows hitting 50 degrees. Layers will be your best friend. Don’t forget these essentials:

▪ Backpack – Save yourself unnecessary pain and keep your hands free.

▪ Two pairs of comfortable shoes – Bring in a couple of pairs of comfortable and already worn-in shoes. On average you’ll be up and about for an average of 18 hours a day. With that kind of wear and tear back-up pair of flats and clean socks as well.

▪ Phone Charger – You’ll be checking the time constantly to hit up your choice sets, so spare your phone battery and pack a watch instead.

▪ Sunglasses

▪ Hat

SXSW Packing
Image By Eagle Creek


We’ve selected these necessities, to keep you happy, hydrated and most importantly, comfortable, during your SXSW adventure. Please note that lockers available to rent at the convention center. You can feel free to bring a smaller bag for all of your essentials and keep store emergency must-have items in a locker. Don’t leave your hotel without:

▪ Water – Bring a reusable bottle to save money!

▪ Cash – Most places will take cards, but cash is always king.

▪ Sunscreen – Austin get 300 sunny days a year – enough said.

▪ Poncho – Tis the rainy season.

▪ Phone charger – Take this with you everywhere you go!

▪ Extra bobby pins/hair ties

▪ Gum

▪ Earplugs

▪ Band-Aids

▪ SPF chapstick


SXSW Planning


You can enjoy a stress-free conference when you plan and map out your schedule ahead of time. According to Fuse.tv, “If you’re with a group and want to meet up during the day or at the end of the night, agree on a specific meeting place. Don’t rely on your phone too much since there’s a chance you won’t have service—or your phone will just be dead.” The good news is a lot of the venues are pretty close to each other with a few exceptions. Account for travel or walking time as you schedule your activities. Most showcases fill up really fast, so the best strategy is to always get there early.

Break Break The Rules

Make your plan. Follow your plan, but don’t treat your plan like a mandatory class schedule. Give it your best shot to see all the attractions on your priority list, but remember new experiences are all about discovery. If you’re walking past a session and you’re interested in the topic, stop and listen…SXSW is all about exploring new ideas.

Drink Water Constantly

Feeling like crap is the antithesis of fun. Heat exhaustion, massive headaches, and any trip to the hospital also make the crappy situations list. Keep water on deck and constantly chug to avoid dehydration. If you need an extra boost drink Gatorade and move away from direct sunlight.


Eat Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner 

It’s going to be hot. You’re going to have a ton of fun, but you’ll also be walking and standing pretty much the entire time. One thing you don’t want to run low on is energy you can get. Austin has amazing food trucks and nationally acclaimed BBQ. You should probably add in an extra meal just to fully enjoy all of the tacos you’ll encounter.

Don’t Overdo the Booze

SXSW turns Austin into the land flowing with beer and open bars.Pace yourself because there’s nothing more brutal than a massive hangover when you’re trying to have fun.

Worst Case Scenario  

Fuse had this great tip. “Make sure your name and phone number are in your wallet in an obvious place. Change your phone’s lock screen to an image that tells a stranger what to do if they find your phone on the ground. If you make it easy for a nice person to return something valuable to you, you’re only helping yourself!”

SXSW Music

Be In The Moment

Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat—it’s pretty much impossible to function without them. But don’t let social media steer your entire experience. Take all the photos you want but it’s ok to get absorbed in the moment. You can always post photos in your downtime.

Following these tips will help you make the most of your time, while in Austin. Be sure to check out Social Imprints at SXSW Interactive Booth 301 and keep up with all of our SXSW activities by following  @socialimprintssf #BrandWithPurpose.

Best Packaging Ideas

Have more words of wisdom to share with SXSW newbies? Feel free to share in the comments below!


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