How To Survive SXSW In Style

We’re just a few days away from one of our favorite annual events, the South by Southwest Music, Film and Interactive Festival. Every year thousands of creative musicians, filmmakers and tech geeks descend on Austin, Texas, for conferences, presentations, networking events and showcases. If you’re making your first trip to SXSW, it can be a bit overwhelming because there’s so much to see and do. Here are a few tips and tricks, along with some gadgets, apps and websites to help you navigate the Convention Center labyrinth, equip yourself for each day’s journey and let your friends know that you’ve found the hottest spot:

Build your itinerary:


Before you head down to Austin, make a list of your must-see bands and events. As much as it may hurt, you have to accept that you can’t see everything. Luckily, you can make picking your events (and actually finding them) easier with the SXSW GO Official Mobile App for iPhone, iPad and Android. Head to to create a calendar of events you want to attend, then sync it with the app. That way you’ll always know what’s coming up next and you can manage your timeline on the fly. The maps within the app show what’s happening in real time AND show you how to get there. Navigating the Austin Convention Center can be a bit daunting without a floor-plan reference and, rest assured, that’s built into the app too (iOS only for now, Android coming soon).


You can also use SXSW GO to make connections with thousands of SXsocial registered attendees. When you register to attend, you can create a profile to share your badge picture, your schedule and more, making networking a cinch. We have our profiles on there, so search for Paige Guyton and Ricky Cadden, and don’t be afraid to introduce yourself. Just try not to trip us up if we’re filming something for YouTube.


Gear up:

Once you have your itinerary for the day, get your gear in order before you leave your hotel room.


First off, wear comfortable shoes. SXSW has more walking than a Lord of the Rings film and you will seriously regret those high heels or no-arch-support Converse All Stars. There is an upside to that much walking though—how many calories you’ll burn. Why not enjoy the fact that the fun you’re having is actually getting you in shape? Grab a Fitbit at RadioShack and clip it to your belt or purse. It tracks your daily steps, distance and calories burned, using an advanced motion sensor and uploads that information to Trust us, you’ll be eating from so many awesome food trucks and pizza windows that you’ll be happy to know how much exercise you’re actually getting to offset those yummy munchables.


Next, you’ll need something to carry all your tech toys. This HP Laptop Messenger Case is perfect for lugging around your laptop, iPad, phone, keys, whatever. You’ll definitely want to keep a laptop or tablet handy during the day, and the padding inside will keep your stuff safe in the midst of a concert crowd if you don’t have time to drop it off at your hotel room before you head to the parties.


We all know that SXSW isn’t just about keynote speeches and trade shows. You’re going to be hopping around to concerts and parties too, all of which require ID due to the alcohol and waiting lists. Instead of digging through your wallet or purse, holding up the line EVERY… SINGLE… TIME you’re asked for it, do yourself and the rest of us a favor and equip your phone with the Incipio Stowaway Credit Card Case. It has an easy-access compartment for your driver’s license and credit/debit card so you can flash your mug and birthday quickly and easily.


Your final piece of gear should be something to keep your phone charged up. You’re going to be texting, taking pics, checking schedules and stalking Ricky and me on the SXSW GO app so much that your battery isn’t likely to last all day. We’ve mentioned the Enercell Power Pack portable charger on the blog before and it’s because you really can’t go wrong when it comes to charging on the go. However, since SXSW involves so much walking around outside, you could go with the Scosche sunVOLT Solar Charger. It’s compatible with almost any USB-powered device and you can plug it into your computer or USB charger after the sun goes down or if you want to speed up the charge.


Stay in touch:



Finally, if you’re going to SXSW in a group, managing the herd quickly gets out of hand when you split up to go to other events. Once that happens, coordinating with simple text messages won’t cut it anymore because you no longer know who’s with whom. Get the group together on the GroupMe app instead. Every text is visible to the whole group and the location function shows where group members are and where their last message was sent from. You can even share photos inline to show everyone that you’re where the action is and they better get there ASAP.


So there you have it, a few tips, tricks and equips to help you make the most of SXSW. Ricky and I will be there Friday March 9th through Monday the 12th, and all of our coverage will be here on The Shack Blog, as well as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Follow us there and be sure to check back for all the action! We’ll see you in Austin.


What are YOUR must-have gadgets and gear for an event like SXSW? Leave a comment below and we’ll send one lucky commenter a full SXSW Survival Kit!


One comment/entry per person. Contest begins at 2:00 pm CST on March 5, 2012 and ends at 1:59 pm CST on March 7, 2012. Winner will be chosen randomly by RadioShack and announced after 2:00 pm CST on March 7, 2012.


No payment or purchase necessary to win. Neither a purchase nor payment will improve your chances of winning. While you’re pretty cool in our book, you are not a winner of this contest yet. Void where prohibited. Must be a resident of the 50 United States to win.

Updated 3/7/12: Thanks to everyone for commenting! Congrats to April J. on winning the SXSW Survival Kit! 


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  • Rob Zazueta

    Obviously, the smart phone is my gadget of choice. I have an EVO 4G 3D, which is invaluable for recording everything, posting updates and keeping track and communicating with all the folks I meet while in Austin. I also carry my Panasonic digital voice recorder to get podcast interviews in between sessions and parties.

    • Ricky Cadden

      Rob – the digital voice recorder is a GREAT suggestion, especially during sessions! Good call.

  • Nicole

    Love these goodies! I would say something one must not forget is sunscreen. All that time behind a computer has probably left you a little pale and you don’t want to spend sxsw sunburned (plus, you know, skin cancer).

  • emma walpole

    have to have comfy shoes, my BB and a camera.

  • Sandra Fabian

    I go to SXSW every year!!! I would love to see the Radio Shack booth there and check out the new Androids!!!

    My must have is for sure comfy shoes, smart phone to check schedules, take pics and videos and a bag to carry all the CD’s and goodies I pick up!!!!

  • Timothy Choi

    All I need is my Galaxy Nexus for maps, Foursquare, and Tweeter! Oh and a spare battery or charger will help too.

  • Jessica P

    My must have gadget would have to be my Flip Cam. I would love to bring something that was compact and small enough to it in my pocket. It would be the perfect device to capture memories in video and also pictures!

  • Brett

    My SXSW must-have gadgets are a phone with a very capable camera like an iphone 4s or galaxy nexus, something with a lot of pockets, and hand sanitizer… lots and lots of hand sanitizer.

  • Lynette Doelp

    Amazing adventure ahead, you need to be stocked by TheShack if you don’t want to waste a moment fuddling around w/maps and such. Schedule and save precious moments. Most of all have fun, and save time to be spontaneous as well. You never know the surprises @RadioShackLive might have!

  • Jade

    I think for my must have gadgets I’d carry an Android Table (ASUS Transformer Prime), a phone (HTC ONE X which isnt out yet :( ), and an enercell power pack to make sure these things all keep a charge while i’m out!

    As far as gear goes, I’d need need a stylish pair of comfortable sneakers, and a windbreaker with a hood, in case it rains. and oh! a bag to carry all this stuff in.

  • Bryan A.

    My must haves are my Laptop, messenger bag and comfortables shoes. There should be a lot of free wi-fi spots around Austin and you can take advantage of it to find your next hot spot.

  • Carrie Wallace

    I have to add a travel pack of wet wipes to the list. After food and sunscreen you’ll want one before touching the gadgets.

  • mom4everever

    recharger wet wips

  • Elden W

    My must have gadget is anything that can connect to the internet (mobile phone, laptop, or tablet). I feel totally out of touch when I don’t have a connection. On the practical side, comfortable shoes are a must and t-shirt and jeans are my staple wardrobe at these events.

  • april j

    Super survival kit! These goodies would be awesome to pack on my next trip to a conference.

    My must have gadget is my laptop. I like the bigger workspace that it gives me. Although always keeping it charged can be a challenge. My other must have is a plastic bottle to hold water so I can keep hydrated.

    Paige and Ricky have fun at SXSW. I look forward to your updates and posts.

  • Tim Hewitt

    Mainly gotta have my iPhone 4S to take pics of my favorite bands for my Facebook friends and to post Tweets and LinkedIn postings covering the latest tech solutions and marketing ideas for my clients. My phone can pretty much do everything I used to need my laptop, camera and video camera for, so it makes for a much lighter load on the go.

    AND definitely sunscreen for me is a must…I usually get burned! Unfortunately I can’t go this year, but I hope that Paige and Ricky from Team RadioShack have a blast!

  • Sean S

    My must have gadget is my Evo phone. Also aspirin is a must have for that headache that comes from too much sun and fun. Thanks for the awesome giveaway! Good luck to all!

  • kim

    My must have gadget is my smartphone and my charger. My gear is throat lozenges. I talk, yell and sing a lot during events like this one and my voice gets a little sore. Love to meet new people and see old friends at events like these. Have fun at SXSW.

  • Kait

    My severely lacking survival kit is making me nervous! Gosh, I hope I win.

    So far, I have comfy shoes, layered clothing, umbrella… and an ipad. Definitely need to think about a bag and your other ideas!

  • Kay Z

    Great tips! My best tool for survival at SXSW is comfy shoes & knowing when to take a break!

  • Jessica

    Remember to bring a little snack – energy bars are perfect. Some of the day parties are hours and hours of awesomeness, but little food to sustain you! I once had to beg a cheeto off a stranger at the Paste Magazine day party. Embarrassing lesson learned.