Campfyre’s SXSW 2016 Unofficial Survival Guide

The Art of the Backup Plan

Don’t get rained out at SXSW. By that I mean you’ll have come far too far to let something as simple as literally getting caught in the rain or your cell phone running out of battery ruin your killer South By trip.

Between scrambling up flights of stairs to rooftop pool parties, navigating across a sea of sweaty bodies and going in and out of both joyous and downcast states of intoxication, you’re bound to lose your debit card, cell phone, your mind — or all three and then some.

Take our advice and follow our SXSW 2016 Unofficial Survival Guide if you not only want to survive the festival but have an awesome time to the max.

Campfyre’s SXSW 2016 Unofficial Survival Guide

Must-Have Stuffage

You should NEVER EVER, EVER, EVER, EVER forget these things when stepping out the door in the morn:

  • ID – To hold up to the stone-cold door guy and get into that swanky rooftop pool party no prob.
  • Debit Card – $$$
  • Cash – Enough for food and tipping when cards aren’t accepted.
  • Cell Phone – Duh! It’ll be a lifesaver if you can keep it charged. Godspeed!
  • Collapsible Water Bottle – Stay hydrated and travel light, old friend.
  • Water Tracker App – While your cell phone still has a charge, keep a water tracker app like iHydrate on there so you don’t die of dehydration.
  • Extra Battery Pack – You most likely won’t find a good spot to plug in a charger, but you might! So why not bring a charger along with that extra battery?
  • Rain Poncho – For when you DO get rained on. Unless it doesn’t rain. Then you won’t. But it might; so bring one!
  • Printed Schedule – For when your phone DOES die and you want to have a clue as to what you’re doing.

Secondary Stuffs

Arright, so into the little backpack all the essential stuffs go. Right? Don’t forget now! I don’t want to hear you complaining when we get there. I want you to have FUN.

There’re a few more things you might consider bringing with you. The secondary stuffs. Goods to consider if your lodging isn’t centrally located to the festival. And though these items are not necessarily necessary, they may serve to make you the life of the party:

  • Clothes – How about some fly digs just in case you get invited to a swanky party. Or maybe you won’t want to be soaking wet anymore after you get rained on. Keep it all in mind. But have a blast.
  • Snacks! – You’re gonna get hungry. You’re gonna lose your debit card. You’ll want to make it to the show on time. Bring snacks. And bring enough for the whole class too, if you want to.

The Grand Old Backup Plan

Rooftop party’s rained out! Singer with sore throat cancels show! Your name ain’t on the list, pal! Nothin is guaranteed. Plan, backup plan and backup-backup plan, please.

Note: This stuff doesn’t require prime backpack real estate; it’s just common sense stuff you’ll want to keep in mind and go over before arriving in Austin. And once you’re in town, you’ll want to check on these each morning before stepping out the door. Don’t wing it on arrival:

RSVP to Parties

  • RSVPster Account – Treat yourself and/or your gig buddies to an account at RSVPster so no one gets turned away at the cool parties.
  • Burner Email Account – Do not use your primary email account because your email box will get flooded.
  • @unrollme – In case you did use your primary account, find @unrollme on Twitter. They’ll unroll you.


  • City Map – Bring a city map. Know your way around town. Remember: Your. Phone. Will die. I don’t want you to. :-/
  • From the Airport – If you’re flying in, make sure you know what your options are for getting downtown and getting to and from the place you’re staying. There will be more than 250,000 people all trying to get to the same place as you.
  • Bring Your Bike! – Are you driving into town? Bring your bike with a good lock if you can fit it.
  • Taxicab – USELESS. Do not rely on them. They will take forever to get you across town if you can hail one in the first place.
  • Parking – Know where you’re gonna park, man! If you’re renting a car or driving to town, get this sorted out. Don’t spend wasted hours trying to park your car.

Each Morning

  • Map Out Your Daily Schedule – Make a list of events you want to attend at “” starring several events for each hour of each day.
  • Paper Notepad – Many reasons for this. Copy your daily schedule into this notepad. Your phone will die. Also, you’ll need a place to write down phone numbers, names, contacts of all sorts if you’re out networking.
  • Prioritize – Don’t overdo it. I want you to get the most out of the festival, so make sure you have a good idea about how long it’ll take you to get from one place to the next and…
  • Arrive Early! – Once you’ve prioritized, make sure you arrive at the events you care about before the crowd does. If it’s a panel, a show or a meet-and-greet you don’t want to miss, get there an hour or so early.

Who To Follow and What To Look Out For On Twitter

  • @SXSW – Duh.
  • @SXSWPartyList – THE party list for SXSW.
  • @360sxsw – Music HQ maintained by the Austin-American Statesman paper. For Interactive and for Film.
  • @ChronSXSW – The @AustinChronicle covering all things Music, Film and Interactive.
  • @SXSWparty – Tracks all the parties at SXSW.
  • @WhoaCo – Stay up to date with latest “news, rumors, shortest lines, and goodness” for SXSW.
  • @SouthByFreeNOMS – Unofficial guide to free food and drinks at SXSW.
  • @Nardwuar – This guy has interviewed everyone worth interviewing under the sun. From Fat Mike of NOFX to Lil Wayne (why not follow those guys too). Nardwuar knows what’s up, he’s hilarious and he’ll get you the scoop.
  • #SXSWtips – Need some extra tips and guides? Just search this hash and you’ll find a plethora.
  • @CAMPFYREtv – That’s us! Come see us at our booth and follow us throughout the festival.


  • Follow Bloggers – Such as @VeganLazySmurf to pinpoint the best places around town to eat if you’re a vegan, or Austin Food Blogger Alliance if you want to get a total taste of what the city has cooking.
  • Free Food Guides – @SouthByFreeNOMS for an unofficial guide to free food and drinks at SXSW.
  • Snacks! – Again, bring snacks with ya in your bag.
  • Event Catering – There may be snacks and food available at certain events. Parties often have this stuff.


  • Business Cards – Don’t forget these little guys. If you’re an artist make sure you’ve got enough CDs or download codes on hand to share. Don’t let your handshaking go to waste; make them remember who you are.
  • Arrive Early –  At least an hour to an hour and a half early. You never know who’ll be rolling in early, and you’ll have first dibs.
  • Be Prepared – With questions and answers. Make a lasting impression on the new people you’re meeting.

Did we forget anything? Let us know in the comments below!

And in closing, you’re going to have a blast if you just understand what a wild ride you’re in for. A tremendous amount of people descend on Austin each year for SXSW. You’ll be pulled in every which way from this show to that, to see this band play or that person talk, up and down stairs to rooftop pools and sub-street pub parties. Just remember to be nice to the door people and tip your bartender even if the drinks are free. Those guys and gals work long hours — all for you to have fun!

Don’t forget to take the Monday after SXSW off. You’ll probably need more time than that to recover, but get that at least.

See ya in Austin, party people. Come see us at our booth. We’ll be on the ground the whole time.

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