According to Joah Spearman, a SXSW native and co-founder/CEO of Localeur, a startup aimed at helping travelers experience cities as locals do, there seems to be three different kinds of people that end up attending South by Southwest in Austin:
1. People who weren’t even aware it was happening when they planned their trip to Austin.
2. People who planned months in advance and have their reservations booked at Hotel San Jose or the W Austin.
3. Or the people who hardly made any plans, but somehow stumbled upon a badge for the music festival.
Spearman is giving tips to SXSW newbies on how to make the most of your experience like a local.
The first tip was being aware of the not-so-typical music festival set up SXSW has. Locations range all over the city, typical roads, restaurants, and coffee shops are all turned into music venues and closed off areas. So in that case, it’s ideal to pack comfortable shoes, some type of rain coat (completely unexpected weather and downpours have happened before), plus some sunglasses and swim clothes.
The second tip from Joah was not to have high expectations of what your badge can do for you. There is a hierarchy of badges, starting at platinum badges and working its way down to local music wristbands. So plan accordingly.
Lastly, keep in mind that group planning is the worst planning. Knowing how to make your rounds throughout the days and using meals as meet up times with friends is essential. There’s too many talks, shows, and parties to worry about where all your friends are at any given moment. This would be the best way to maximize your SXSW experience and still having a good time with the people you came with.