Kicking off the Couch 2 SXSW


In my old age, I’ve become something of a conference snob. I want to go to conferences and events where I can a) sit around a table with people in similar roles and bounce ideas back and forth or b) get inspired by the newest, craziest ideas imaginable.

To that end, one of the conferences I plan to attend next year is the interactive portion of South by Southwest in Austin, TX. The organizers promise:

The 22nd annual SXSW Interactive Festival returns to Austin, Texas from Friday, March 13 through Tuesday, March 17, 2015. An incubator of cutting-edge technologies and digital creativity, the 2015 event features five days of compelling presentations and panels from the brightest minds in emerging technology, scores of exciting networking events hosted by industry leaders and an unbeatable lineup of special programs showcasing the best new websites, video games and startup ideas the community has to offer. From hands-on training to big-picture analysis of the future, SXSW Interactive has become the place to preview the technology of tomorrow today.

Yes, please!

After signing up, I asked a few veteran attendees if they had any tips or tricks for first timers. What I quickly found out is that SXSW is the Burning Man of conferences. The same tips apply: stay hydrated, bring snacks, load up on sunscreen, wear comfortable shoes, stay away from the brown acid. People prepare for Burning Man months in advance, and it seems prudent to treat SXSW with the same care. This conference is a marathon, not a sprint.

Over the next six months, I’m going to use my blog articles to highlight conference prep and hopefully provide some helpful tips for your own conference experiences (and if you’re going to SXSW, hit me up!) I’ll cover everything from walking programs to panel picking to packing tips to proper party etiquette and more.

First up is the walking program. I’ve been told that at SXSW I should expect to walk 10-15 miles per day (and that’s WITH the ever-present shuttles). 10-15 miles! That’s 30,000 steps! I’ve successfully completed the couch to 5K running plan, but a 5k is far less daunting than walking 75 miles. My boots were made for looking cute, not for walking.

SXSW is still 24 weeks away, so I have ample time to try out both of these intermediate and advanced walking programs that will have me walking a brisk hour a day, three times a week. But, no matter your fitness level, 30,000 steps a day is going to make your dogs bark. One tip I’ve heard is to not only bring comfortable shoes, but to bring several pairs of comfortable shoes so that your inevitable blisters aren’t all in the same place. Ugh. Given Austin’s hot temperatures, sandals are in order. Luckily, there are handy guides to buying walking sandals and even exhaustive lists of the best styles. Sadly, none of them are very cute, but that’s the hard price you pay for comfort.

So, I’ve got a plan, but I still need some help. Post your favorite conference secrets, travel tips or walking plans on our Facebook page now!

About Kris Prusynski

Kris works on the Commercial Marketing team at TDS Telecom and helps TDS achieve their online objectives through digital marketing and website optimization. She has worked in the digital marketing space for over 15 years, in product categories as diverse as shoes, banking, beds and pig farming supplies (really!). Kris has both undergraduate degrees and an MBA from the University of Wisconsin - Madison and therefore bleeds Badger red. She’s a veteran blogger on topics ranging from digital marketing to Wisconsin fish frys to the sweet necessity of ugly office sweaters. Nowadays, you’re more likely to find her on Twitter or Google+ trying to decipher the mysteries of A Song of Ice and Fire. In her spare time, you can find Kris kayaking, hanging out at the dog park, or thinking about lawn care.

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