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Pack up your skinny jeans and vintage shades — South By Southwest (SXSW) 2013 is on the horizon. The massive 10-day (March 8 to 17) conference in Austin, Texas, garners equal attention for its tech-forward panels, film screenings and musical performances — not to mention a city full of unofficial parties and gaggles of gustatory delights. An event of this magnitude can be chaos without a game plan, so we tapped Austin locals and SXSW veterans alike for their survival tips.

ZUMA Press, Inc./Alamy; j.crew
Essentials to Pack
Leave the fancy duds at home: SXSW — and Austin in general — sports a hip, casual vibe.  “Your SXSW ‘uniform’ should consist of skinny jeans and comfy shoes or cowboy boots, paired with flannel shirts or American Apparel tees,” says Sadie Cornelius, owner of SKC Marketing in Austin. “Also, bring a water bottle, plenty of business cards, and don’t forget to accessorize with sunglasses.” A smartphone or tablet is ideal for trading contacts and getting up-to-the-minute social-media updates on the SXSW scene, so charging cables and back-up power packs are key. Equally important: “Pack light, because your suitcase will be overflowing with swag,” says Tara Berkoski, a New York public-relations executive headed to SXSW for her third consecutive year.

Christian Remde/east side king
Best Food Trucks
Austin is a street-food heaven, with hundreds of trucks, trailers and carts across the city. “Paul Qui’s East Side King [trucks]  are the best food trailers in town,” Cornelius says. “And this year, he’s curating a selection of trucks called SouthBites.” That’s great news for foodies, who can find top picks from the Top Chef winner and James Beard Awarded chef across from the Austin Convention Center throughout the conference. Even better: It’s open to the public.

Celeb Spotting
With all the film screenings, concerts and hip hobnobbery at SXSW, celebrities are just part of the landscape. “SXSW is the best time to spot a celeb in Austin,” says Dani Dudek, entertainment editor for The Digital Texan/­ATXgossip. “This year, expect to see Steve Carell and other cast members of The Incredible Burt Wonderstone out and about [see page 44 for our cover story on Olivia Wilde, who also stars in the film], as well as Dave Grohl, who’s a ­keynote speaker for the music portion of the fest. And, of course, hometown hottie Matthew McConaughey  is sure to be spotted all over the city.”

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Unofficial Parties
For many people, going to SXSW doesn’t necessarily mean going to SXSW. The number of unofficial events and parties that run concurrent to the conference, no badges required, is staggering. “Music day-parties are my favorite — usually free alcohol, less crowded and anyone can go,” says Lindsey Reynolds, an Austin native and six-year SXSW volunteer who co-owns a boutique bartending service called The Goodetime Gals. “Nighttime gets a little more upscale and exclusive.” She recommends checking Do512.com or RSVPster.com to find out what’s happening.

American Airlines is proud to be the new official airline
of the annual South By Southwest film and music conference in Austin, Texas. We’ll be in Austin conducting a number of events throughout SXSW, so keep an eye out for us at the convention center, on the streets of Austin and online. 

Visit AA.com/sxsw for more information, and follow @AmericanAir on Twitter for
SXSW updates!