The Ultimate SXSW Packing List

If you’re reading this, you already know – or maybe you don’t – that SXSW (Interactive/Music/Film) is upon us and this year it promises to be as big, if not bigger, than last year. South-by 2012 will be information overloadier than ever thanks to the usual firehose of panels, keynotes, chit-chats and decentralized dance parties planned for this year.

In hopes of helping you, dear reader, in your pursuit of south-by-nirvana I’ve compiled the ultimate SXSW packing list. This gear will keep you going when your body can’t, allowing you to maximize your exposure in Austin and achieve total conference domination; so fire up that notepad, because you’ll want to write this down.

  1. Jetpack. Getting around Austin is like New York City without cabs, subway, pedicabs, bicycles or really any form of transportation. A jetpack solves this simply and elegantly, while also encouraging onlookers to gawk and wonder where they can get their own. Leverage these “15 nanoseconds of fame” to educate the audience about your company’s ad buying software.
  2. 10 doses of adrenaline. Science has shown that the average SXSW Interactive attendee drinks about 4000 espressos during the conference. This causes the heart to stop, usually after every 400th macchiato. Keep adrenaline on hand so someone can revive you Pulp Fiction style.
  3. Red Bull. For when the espresso place closes.
  4. Vitamins. Specifically, whatever kind replaces the stuff we get from vegetables. There will be meat and you will eat it like God and Texas intended, with your mouth and possibly a bib. By the way if you would like to know where to find an entire roast pig, check out Haddington’s. The drinks there are impeccable, as are the bartender’s curly moustaches. 
  5. Ham radio/morse code thingy. Your mobile, tablet, laptop and other 3G/Wifi enabled devices are to SXSW what those same things are to the rest of the year: pretty to look at but sort of useless otherwise. Explained another way, your phone won’t work cuz half the world’s population of smart devices are trying to use the same router at once. One check-in from Austin is enough y’all.
  6. Wineskin. The only way to fight hipster is to out-hipster the other guy. I’m pretty sure no one’s rocked a wineskin down there yet; at least not at the Interactive festival. Impress/imbibe all at once with this must-have accessory.
  7.  San Antonio emergency numbers. You never know where you’ll wake up. Better safe than sorry.
  8. Map of San Antonio. See previous item.
  9. Cash/RoTel+Velveeta+Tortilla chips. Cash is as good as the southern party dip sensation known simply as Queso. Also known as RoTel. Anyway, most places take credit and debit but you’ll stand out from the crowd with a little green stuff. And you’ll win the crowd over if you carry Queso around. Just sayin.
  10. On your last day, go to the rooftop pool, order a thing of beers and just float for awhile until they make you get out. A deprivation chamber is really the only things that will help you transition back to the real world after the conference, and you can’t afford one of those. But a few cold ones and a little pool floating will suffice.
  11. Tweet. But instead of using Twitter, talk to people.

I could keep giving you tips all day, but what would be the fun in that? SXSW is about learning, and you’ll want to experience some of the festival’s magic on your own, without warning. Like DDPs. Look into that. And, on a more serious note, think about upping your mingling game. It’ll probably help you more in the long term than seeing every panel on your to-do list, and it’s a great excuse to sample Austin’s great foods, drinks and music. Get out and try it, and let me know if you score a jetpack. I’m @VanHoven, and I’ll see you out there. 

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