Well, my SXSW trip is over. I didn't manage to survive solely on day-party free food and beer the way I'd hoped to because doing so would have been at the sacrifice of other, better shows. Plus, my experience Thursday taught me not to trust a free-beer or free-food promise. My food expenses were far lower than I expected simply because I hardly ever had time to eat. I stopped for Whataburger at about 3 a.m. last night driving back when I realized that I hadn't eaten anything since breakfast. There was so much to do, see and hear that food just didn't occur to me.
On Saturday I managed to save a few bucks by backpacking my own beer into "Mess With Texas"; a sixer of Lone Star tallboys cost less than a single Miller Lite tallboy would have at festival prices. Then after talking my way into the VIP area I almost scored a free pair of headphones from a Skull Candy marketing representative, but then he asked what band I was in. Turns out the giveaways were for musicians only.
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Other freebies included an energy drink, Wi-Fi connection at The Courtyard Marriott (available to anyone, not just paying guests) and, of course, free parking on residential streets east of I-35. Mostly, though, what I got for free was exercise. I walked more over these four days than I had the entire year leading up to SXSW. So there's the bright side to the recession. Don't think of it as being too broke for a taxi or parking spot; think of it as free exercise.