My SXSW Survival Guide

February 28, 2018

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SXSW Survival Guide

South by Southwest (SXSW 2018) is almost here and it’s one of my favorite events to attend in Austin. Over 440,000 attended last year for a week of education, interactive, film, and music. It’s the ultimate event to network, share ideas, learn new technologies, and be inspired.

SEE ALSO: 23 Austin Texas Food Festivals You Need To Attend

I’ve attended SXSW for the past 4 years and if there’s anything I learned, it’s that each day is LONG! You start the day early checking out panels and networking, then grabbing some amazing food, and then it’s on to events, concerts and hanging out with friends. The worst part is when you’ve been out all day and at night you realize that you don’t smell great.

I rarely have time to go home and change during the festival, but I’ve learned a thing or two over the years – so between what to pack and what to wear, and of course what to visit, I’m sharing my essential survival guide to SXSW 2018 below.

So I’m psyched this year to have Downy Protect & Refresh Liquid Fabric Conditioner in my SXSW routine. Now my clothes are protected from fading, pilling, and stretching, plus get 24 hours of odor protection – , so I can go from sun up to sundown (and maybe keep going to sun up again) and my clothes stay looking and smelling amazing.



SXSW is all about planning ahead and creating a calendar of events that you want to attend and events you may attend. You don’t want to miss out because FOMO is real. Top resources to find events are:

  • Eventbrite
  • Facebook
  • RSVPster
  • Twitter – use the hashtag #SXSW2018 or #SXSW to track new events and even celebrity sightings



Don’t overdress – SXSW is very casual unless you’re a startup looking to impress investors. Dress casual and comfortable because you’ll be out the entire day and won’t have time to go back to change. So how does one survive an entire day at SXSW with all the sweat, food, 6th street, bar hopping, and rubbing against strangers?

Enter Downy Protect & Refresh Liquid Fabric Conditioner. It protects clothes from stretching, fading, and fuzz, AND gives them all-day odor protection (like deodorant for your clothes!) – , so I can go from sun up to sundown (and maybe keep going to sun up again) and my clothes stay looking and smelling amazing.

Just because I love tacos, doughnuts, and pizza (all of which I will be eating at SXSW) doesn’t mean I want to smell like food throughout the day. Downy Protect & Refresh protects my clothes from odors all day. It’s so easy to use, too, just pour it in the fabric conditioner dispenser in your machine after you add your detergent – no need to wait for the rinse cycle.

Downy Protect & Refresh

Here’s what to wear & bring with you to SXSW:

  • Comfy pants like jeans or trousers if you have meetings
  • Comfy top – button down or t-shirt
  • Water bottle
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Wallet
  • Business cards
  • Shoulder bag or tote – for all the swag!
  • Phone charger/battery pack


Downy Protect & Refresh

A Taste of Koko



If this is your first time to Austin, here are your must-eats:

  • Tacos – Veracruz, Tacodeli (breakfast tacos), Torchy’s Tacos
  • Margaritas – La Condesa (my favorite margaritas), Las Perlas Mezcaleria, ATX Cocina, and Fresa’s.
  • Barbecue – don’t stand in line at Franklin (they might be bought out during SXSW but I do recommend ordering online in advance for pick up #localtip), and go to La Barbecue

SouthBites pops up during SXSW and it’s my go-to spot to grab something to eat and you try out new trailers that come from out of town for the week:

  • Briggo Coffee Haus – coffee meets technology to create the perfect cup
  • DFG Noodles – local Austin food truck with really good Singapore street food
  • Ghost & Grits – New York food truck serving up southern cuisine
  • Happy Lobster – really good lobster roll but the angry fries is where it’s at
  • Lick Honest Ice Creams – best ice cream in Austin
  • The Waffle Bus – one of Houston’s top food trucks serving up sweet and savory gourmet waffle sandwiches

ATX Cocina

Fareground on Caesar Chavez and Congress is Austin’s first food hall with 6 local Austin concepts:

  • Henbit – locally sourced and seasonal breakfast, lunch, and dinner by the team behind Emmer & Rye
  • Ni-Komé – ramen and sushi by the owners of Komé, Daruma Ramen, and Sa-Tén
  • Easy Tiger – breakfast pastries, freshly made bread, baguette sandwiches, and pretzels with beer cheese.
  • Dai Due Taquería – tacos and tortas made with Texas game, Gulf seafood and veggie combos.
  • Antonelli’s Cheese Shop – there are over 75 kinds of local, national, and international cheeses in the Antonelli’s cheese case. They also make a killer grilled cheese with tomato bisque.
  • Contigo – Rotisserie chicken, chicken wings, and the iconic Contigo burger

For more downtown Austin dining options, check out my Best Downtown Austin Restaurants To Eat At SXSW guide!


Austin Texas


Don’t drive. I-35 is always congested once you go past the 15th street exit and you will be blocked in. Driving through the streets of downtown Austin will be a nightmare too. Use rideshare or take advantage of the official car sponsor of SXSW for a free ride around downtown. If you live in North Austin, I recommend riding Capital MetroRail to downtown.


Downtown Austin


There are a ton of events during the day at SXSW but there are even more at night. Plan ahead by checking online for shows and pop-ups – be sure to check if the show requires an SXSW badge. You are in the live music capital of the world and Austin definitely demonstrates that during SXSW. Popular live music venues during SXSW include:

  • Mohawk
  • Stubb’s
  • Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater
  • Antone’s Night Club
  • The Belmont
  • Parish


So no matter what activities and events you get to experience at SXSW, be sure to start your adventure with Downy Protect & Refresh so you can take on Austin all day (and night) long!

See you at SXSW!


Jane Ko is the Austin blogger behind A Taste of Koko, Austin's top food and travel blog featuring the hottest restaurants and weekend getaways. Jane has been a speaker at South by Southwest (SXSW), Texas Conference for Women, BlogHer, and more on entrepreneurship and social media. She lives in Austin Texas with her dog and cat.