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Ultimate 2019 SXSW Survival Guide for Creators

If you’re one of the more than 50,000 people across the globe who is making their way to Austin to join in on one of the most collaborative, diverse, and inventive festivals in the world, you might be scrambling to figure out what to do, see, eat, and basically how to survive SXSW. Patreon will be both attending and hosting events in Austin (check out our House of Creativity) this year, so we wanted to help guide you (see what we did there) by listing the best experiences for eaters, drinkers, but more importantly, creators to not only survive but thrive during SXSW!

Where to start

This isn’t your typical festival — with activations, sessions, shows, and more, across film, music, and interactive media, and more, it’s hard to choose just one thing to attend or get so overwhelmed you choose nothing at all. One way to avoid this is by putting your schedule together in the weeks before you get to the festival. You can create one using a simple spreadsheet with times and locations of events, by downloading the official SXSW app, or by using the SXSW website to favorite the things you want to do based on your interest throughout the week.

Another very important thing to note as your creating your schedule is making sure you know the type of badge you have and what events it will allow you to attend (here’s a handy quiz that will show you which badge to purchase and what you’ll have access to). If you have a few events that you absolutely cannot possibly under any circumstances miss, take advantage of your SXXpress (South by Express) pass which allows registrants with Platinum, Interactive, Film, and Music Badges to request prority acess to conference sessions, parties, screenings, and showcases. Also, if you’re looking for parties and events based on your specific creative focus and industry, check out the Twitter hashtag #SXSW2019, RSVPster, or even Eventbrite to avoid FOMO during the week.

What to bring

1. Portable Charger: As many veteran attendees will tell you, there is no device more sacred than that of a portable charger during SXSW. Yes, you’ll most likely be stopping by activations that have charging stations, but if you decide to check out a film, a late-night showcase, or a session that’s so enthralling you don’t want to walk away, you’ll be thanking us you packed your portable charger.

2. Pen and Paper: It may sound archaic, especially at a festival run for and by the technically savvy, but instead of toting around your laptop may we suggest a notebook? It’s easier to carry than your laptop, plus you’ll save battery life by not taking notes on your phone.

3. Cash Money: Also make sure to bring money — yes, cold, hard cash. This will make it easier if you’re having a group lunch where the restaurant doesn’t take multiple cards or if you’d rather jump into a pedicab than a Lyft during high traffic times.

4. Reusable Water Bottle: Sure, the city of Austin has amazing watering holes (read on for our recs), but no festival is fun when you're dehydrated. Pack your reusable water bottle and keep up on your H20 throughout the event.

5. Business Cards: Some people think they're cheesy, some folks don't even have them anymore, but we're on Team Biz Card for festivals and events such as these. Networking can happen so fast, locales can be loud... it's best to be able to pass your card to another person instead of hope they'll remember your Twitter handle.

6. Comfortable Shoes: This isn't Coachella; no one will judge if you're dressing for comfort so you can walk to all the sessions and showcases. You're in Texas, bring some boots or other trusted shoes you know can help you stay on your feet.

Where to eat

It’s no surprise that Austin has some of the most delicious food you can come by, a perfect balance of southwestern cuisine meets delectable barbeque. It might be hard to hit up all the places you want to eat during SXSW (not that we’re saying you shouldn’t try!) but here are some good places to start. Texas Monthly once wrote that Franklin’s Barbeque sells the quote, “best barbeque in the known universe.” and we don’t think they’re wrong. Expect long lines outside of this Austin staple, but the brisket, pulled pork, and potato salad are well worth the wait!

If you’re looking for something a little healthier but will all of the one-of-a-kind Austin taste, check out Veracruz All Natural. Some of the cities best handmade tacos come from this infamous food truck, and if you’re not in the mood for tacos, you can always have one of their fresh smoothies.

Basically, if you can dream it you can eat it in Austin. Also, check out Eater.com’s curated food list for a wide range of worthy food stops you should make during SXSW.

Where to drink

With two locations, one downtown and one on South Congress, Jo’s Coffee is an Austin landmark. If you’re worried about making it to every event on your agenda, check out their signature Turbo coffee drink and thank us in advance. Looking for a more relaxed coffee shop with a focus on the art of espresso? Look no further than Caffé Medici. If you, like us, run on coffee then your mornings at SXSW are most likely going to start with finding the right place for a stiff cup of brew. Luckily, Austin is full of great places for coffee.

And last but not least, check out Better Half Coffee & Cocktails, where you get to decide if you’d rather wind down with a cocktail or wind up with a coffee when you hit that mid-day slump.

The ultimate survival tip

We saved the most important SXSW survival guide tip of them all for last (drumroll please…): Remember to have a great time! It can get chaotic but take the time to soak in as much information, sunshine, and interaction with likeminded creatives as you can. Also, if you’re a creator who wants to spend time with Patreon during SXSW, make sure to request an invite to our House of Creativity, where we’ll be hosting panels, shows, and events for and by creators just like you!

See you there.