If you read our Family Friendly Events During SX 2014 post the other day, you may have been thinking, “How the heck am I supposed to pull all of this off with kids in tow?” Well, you probably can’t. But you can definitely pick and choose, and you could definitely use some advice if you’ve never done it before. Do512 Family Featured Babymaker, Nicole from LiveMom, shared her Tips for Doing SX With Kids with us today. Heed her advice, and have fun out there!
Are you ready for thousands of music-lovers, music execs and tourists to descend upon our fair city? Ready or not, South by Southwest will be here before we know it. There are plenty of Austinites who flee the city or do their best to avoid leaving the house during SX. For those of us with kids off for Spring Break, South By offers up lots of opportunities for low-cost fun. Plus, like ACL, it can be a great way to see a lot of music in just a few days.
Needless to say, it can be overwhelming for a first-timer, but don’t fret, we’re here to help. Here are some tips for doing SXSW with kids.
>> Be ready for anything >
This sounds obvious, but the city changes during SXSW. Not only are students from preschool to college out of school for Spring Break, but over 150,000 people attend the Conference and Festival and many more travel to town to take part in events surrounding SX. This could mean anything from street closures to parking suddenly being $20 downtown in a pay lot (true story) to seeing musicians set up on any street corner. Also, if you tend to stick to your part of town, it’s very likely that you will come across buildings you don’t remember seeing, disappearing parking lots and pop-up tents in every conceivable spot downtown, so it can be hard to remember you actually are in Austin. Last year, we thought we had hatched the perfect plan to take Metrorail down to the Convention Center for Flatstock, but the train arrived in Crestview packed (at 11am!) and despite having paid for day passes, we ended up driving downtown after we learned another train wouldn’t arrive for an hour.
>> Pack smart >
Assume you should bring food for your kids in case the lines are a mile long or there is only free beer. Hungry kids = cranky kids = no fun for anyone. There may be lots of free food, but it’s usually junky (I’m looking at you, Doritos). Side note: the same rules apply to mamas and papas. Expect that it could be hot, loud and sunny, so you should have sunscreen, sunglasses and ear protection (I bought a pair of these after last year, since it was so hard to get the foam kind in my kid’s ears). Bring cash in case you can’t use plastic. Bring bottles you can refill along the way with water.
>> Have a plan, but be ready to ditch it >
I add everything conceivable to my Google Calendar and then have a Plan A, B and maybe even C. Just like when you are preparing for trips, make sure you know where you are going, where to park and what to expect when you get there. Think about what parks might be nearby in case you need a change of scenery, or even a library.
>> Buddy up >
I’ve wanted to meet up with friends during SX, and when you have kids, that is just harder. Cell reception gets wonky, you get texts hours later and everything takes longer than you would hope, so travel with friends if you want to make sure you spend time with them while you are there. Everything’s more fun with a buddy anyways, right?
>> Take it easy >
If you have kids and aren’t working, you are supposed to be on vacation…right? With events in the early morning and more after the kids are in bed, it’s easy to burn the candle at both ends. Few kids are really going to enjoy spending their Spring Break spending the entire week braving the crowds and attending the free shows in what is, admittedly, an experience catering to grown-ups. Plan just a few outings a day, make sure you are well-rested and call it a day. When I get down about missing a show, I remind myself SX happens once a year.
So, good luck!