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ebonyI’ve made up in my mind that I will be attending the South by Southwest, SXSW, conference in Austin, TX in 2015. SXSW is an annual music, film, and interactive conference and festival held each year. I describe it as a myriad of art meets culture meets digital/tech which equals #AllThingsCool!!! Yes, it’s still early in 2014 and yes, this year’s conference is going on as we speak; but, this conference is so large that anyone who has an inkling that they may want to attend should start planning now. The likely dates are Friday, March 6th – Sunday, March 15th (1-week vacation noted). Ebony Magazine has a heavy presence so I’m excited about that, too! (see their popular giveaway in the photo the left)

courtyardThe first thing I know is that hotels will fill up quickly so I do a little research. Because I’m a Platinum Elite member with Marriott, I’m hoping to use that perk to score a room really close to the convention center (#NoDriving). There are 3 possibilities, 1 pretty likely, and all very close to the convention center. Although the Residence Inn provides free breakfast and a laid back environment, I’m not a huge fan of the bedding options, but it could work. The second option, Courtyard, is great because it offers double-beds and may be the key bringing the cost of my trip down (queue room mate music). The 3rd option I note is a JW Marriott opening the same month the conference kicks off. It’s a long shot (and likely very expensive), but what I can do at the moment is place a reminder on my calendar to get the ball rolling (I know Marriott books 52-weeks in advance). Assuming the rate will be $300/night and that I’ll probably stay 6 nights, my cost would be ~$900 (not including tax).

deltaNext, I need to find a travel buddy. Someone as geeky as me, who likes the arts. Hmmm… So, even though I vowed to give up Facebook, I post “Who’s up for SXSW 2015?” and eagerly await responses! In the meantime, I estimate the cost of a flight on my beloved Delta, purchased 3 months in advance for one week (Saturday to Saturday) to be around $350.

Next, on to registration. I note the costs ($995 for Gold), add it to my projected budget and move on. At the moment I can’t say for certain which option I’ll need, so to get remotely close to  making a decision, I locate an online version of this year’s schedule, just to get a taste of the offerings. My plan is to go through the schedule and highlight events that interest me (more on that later). This type of “wishful thinking” is not foreign to me… As a child I’d often grab my mom’s JC Penney catalog, pretend I was rich and make a list of everything I’d buy (clothing, houseware, bedding, you name it)… including style numbers, totals, quantities, colors, etc. Before you give me the side eye – a kid can dream, right??!

Anyhoo… I note a few other useful resources, SXSW’s mobile app and First Timer’s GuideMVMT50, No-Badge Guide and a few tips from local news outlets (Dallas Observer, MyFoxAustin). Comfortable shoes? Duly noted… bring on the shopping!

So yes, I’m serious... I’m going! This is the first of many posts that will track my preparation and eventually,  my adventures in Austin! Stay tuned for my next post and to see how my pre-planning pays off (or not!)