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South by Southwest Wrap-Up

After surviving the crazy weather, the crowds, the panels, and the parties, I’m very happy to return to beautiful, albeit soggy, SF. As promised, I wanted to follow up with my initial post about my thoughts as a first timer at the conference on Saturday.

To quote my co-worker, Chelsi Nanako, in her post about the conference, SXSW is intense. So how can a couple of first timers survive? Here are my top 5 tips for noobs like Chelsi and I…

5. Arrive to panel sessions EARLY! Before venturing to Texas, I was warned probably a million times by my boss about how the panels do fill up – so arrive early. I recall thinking to myself “ya, ya, I’ll give myself an hour or so and I should be OK.” Not true. For the super popular sessions held in the convention you might get lucky and find a seat. However, for the smaller sessions you’re going to want to give yourself that little bit of extra time because odds are if you want to see that one session about a million others do too and I’ll be packed.

The crowd listening to Baratunde Thurston (left) and another crowd of people waiting for a session to start about 1 hr prior (right)

4. Pack light for the day. I didn’t do this and ultimately regretted it. Because my hotel was about 5 miles away from the convention center, I didn’t have the luxury of being able to run back to the room to drop things – so they all ended up in my backpack. This was fine given the chilling, wet first two days however once the sun broke through the clouds and it heated up, it was far from ideal. Suggestion: pack only essentials for the daytime that way you’re not “that guy” lugging around a fully loaded pack at parties, meet ups etc… like myself.

It gets warm, so pack light.

3. Backup batteries = a must. Because SXSW has grown over the years, a we’ve seen the birth of hyper intimate social networking apps like highlight, and Sonar. These guys kill, absolutely kill your phone’s battery. So bring a quick recharger like this Duracell guy I bought. They’ll only set you back about $20 and prolong your phone’s life by about 25%. Well worth it.

My Duracell battery pack...such a life saver

2. Load up on hand sanitizer and airborne! Admittedly I’m a bit of a germaphobe, but there are a lot of people touching door knobs, and counters which means a lots germs. Be smart, bring some hand sanitizer and some vitamin-C to counteract the long hours, the partying, and all the germs.

1. Book your tickets EARLY! This can’t be stressed enough. Think of it this way: the longer you wait to buy your tickets, the further away from the action you’ll be. So plan to buy you tickets early, because you don’t want to be far away from the action.

The registration card I filled out while waiting for my badge to be printed

Once you go, you’ll quickly understand why people are already anxiously waiting for SXSW 2013. I hope to see you there!

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