Packing for SXSW: Daily Survival Kit

There have only been two days in this work week, and they’ve both been stressful. Spring break is a benchmark. I had a list of things that I’d do “before spring break”. Today I realized that list is actually things I have to do “by tomorrow”. One of the fun things on the list is – pack.

So, here I am, packing, and playing with my new camera.

The first round of packing is my emergency/pharmacy/miscellaneous essentials group. These are basically things I’m going to have on me at all times.
(Although, I hope I can ditch the umbrella after day two.)

SXSurvival Kit

Here’s my kit:

Pretty straightforward

I have no idea if this does anything at all. Friends of mine swear by it and say it’s good for hangovers. I’ve never felt WORSE after taking it, and have felt better after, but don’t know if it was because of it. It’s not that expensive, I have a giant box of it, and it doesn’t taste awful – so into the bag it goes. Remember, SXSW days are long and there is a lot of free booze. At least it won’t be 95 degrees this year.

I was anti-earplug as a teen and still tend to go without them, but there are some shows that are beyond ridiculously loud and one last year that I had to sit through (stand, actually) that was seriously awful – I’m looking at you – …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead

Antibiotic ointment
Ok, you probably don’t need to carry this around with you everyday, but it’s not heavy, and my family is addicted to Neosporin the way the dad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding was addicted to Windex. It fixes EVERYTHING! I use it for cuts and stuff, but also as lip balm in a pinch, and lotion for super dry skin.

Yeah, this is my moisturizer, but the lesson is SPF. This has 30 in it. I wear it EVERYDAY YEAR ROUND. For you northerners – YOU CAN GET SUNBURNED HERE ANY TIME OF THE YEAR. I’ve gotten my worst burns in October and February because I wasn’t expecting them. Again, the temperatures are going to be mild for Texas, but wear sunblock.

Hand sanitizer
I’m germ averse, but not a germophobe, I don’t carry this around with me everyday, but the bathrooms get A LOT of use during SXSW and take a dirty club bathroom and add 16 straight hours of live music and free beer and constant use. Yeah. Don’t count on there being any sort of paper product or soap.

This one is specific. Band Aid brand blister bandaids are the GREATEST THING EVER. I go to a lot of conferences. I walk many many miles at these conferences. I’ve experienced blisters. I’m telling you, the bilster bandaids are amazing. You don’t even need the Neosporin. They cover, cushion, and dull the pain. They stay on through multiple showers. I have no idea how they do this, it’s freaking magic. They’re not cheap, but they are entirely worth it. ENTIRELY WORTH IT.

Swiss Army Knife
This is another thing you probably don’t NEED. I use mine everyday. This tiny one has a little blade, scissors, a file, toothpick, and tweezers. I used it when I was hiking and ran into a cactus, I use it to open boxes at work all the time, I use it to trim off a split end or string hanging off of some article of clothing, and the other day I used it to get the strap onto my camera. It could pose a problem for you folks flying in with only carry-on bags. I get that. If you see me, and need something opened, just say hi. 🙂

Ponytail holders
I use them for so many things besides my hair. Securing the wrapping on my lunch leftovers. Cord wrangling. Shooting at the backs of heads of people in sessions who are “asking questions” but really giving speeches about how awesome they are.

Drugs, legal drugs
In this case, vitamins and ibuprofen.

Stupid Umbrella
I’m irritated that rain is even a possibility, but it doesn’t look like it will be too bad if it actually does happen. This one is small, light, and adorable. If you don’t bring an umbrella bring an emergency poncho – not for you, for your bag full of electronics. I’ll probably have both.

I go nowhere without my Burt’s Bees.

So that’s it. The entire list.

Except tissues, bring those too. Or napkins. Something paper to use when the restrooms run out.

SXSW is a blast – a 20-hours-a-day blast. Do yourself a favor, make yourself a similar kit and have a much happier festival – hangover, sunburn, headache, and bad-breath free!

Have a great SXSW, everyone!


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