It’s difficult to say how much you’d spend at SXSW – the amount is infinite. You can do it for super cheap – if you keep an eye on the free parties, have a friend to stay with and already live in the US.
But if you don’t, like me, you could end up spending an absolute fortune.
Here’s a look at everything I spent at SXSW in 10 days from the start to finish of the festival.
There was a time when I debated just getting an interactive ticket as the music line up didn’t look too good, and then I just thought that if I was going to do it I might as well do it and really go all out. So I bought the full access platinum ticket at $1575, in the fourth stage of purchasing (tickets go up closer to the time).
Total = £1095 | $1575
I booked into Hostel International (left) before I was even certain I was coming – back on the 1st October. I didn’t book for long enough though and so on the 6th November I booked the remaining time at Drifter Jacks 6 nights. Lesson learnt there – just a month and Drifter Jacks was almost twice as much when it’s usually the same price.
I actually spent longer at each hostel at the start and end but I’ve worked out the nights that cover just the festival.
Hostel International | 3 x £25.50 = £76.50
Drifter Jacks | 7 x £46.25 = £323.75
Total = £400.25 | $568.44
I flew into Austin and am flying out of Minneapolis so this is obviously a little skewed, but just to give you an idea I paid £516.17 on the 20th December for my flight.
Total = £516.17 | $741.94
So much food is free at SXSW but if you want something more than hostel porridge, free McDonalds and free tacos (pretty much what I survived on), here’s what else I bought.
- 2 x sushi trays from Blue Grocery $6.99 x 2 = $13.98
- Yakisoba at Alamo Cinema $9
- Hotdogs at Alamo Cinema $9
- Disgusting salad crepe at the stage at Ladybird Lake $9
- Sushi at RA Sushi Bar $15
- Chicken fajita salad at Isalias Tex Mex $9
- Chicken rice thing at Llama Food Truck $11
- First day taco meet up $30
- Tacos food trcuk from near Rainey Street $5
- Chocolate pretzels at the cinema $3
I’d paid for the taco meet up above when I bought my pass as I thought it’d be a good way to meet people, but there was definitely no need for that expense. My most regrettable spend for sure!
I was actually very lucky at SXSW as in addition to all the free food I got three dinners paid for me by friends – this incredible sushi boat (photo by Nick from NicksTravelBug), pizza one night and tacos another. But this is how much I spent so Ive left them out.
Total = £79.31 | $113.98
- Six drinks in a round at Maggie Maes $60
- Four drinks at Richie Hawtin $20
- Beer at Maggie Maes another night $5 (yeah, that’s CHVRCHES above)
- Drink at Bangers $7
As I said, most of the drinks were free over the 10 days. These were just a few little misdemeanours where I’d misjudged the parties. But for the amount I drank, £64 is not bad!
Total = £64.01 | $92
I bought coffee every day, from either Starbucks, Houndstooth, or Bat City Coffee in the Austin Convention Centre. The free stuff at the hostel didn’t quite hit the spot and I liked it as a reward for managing to get out of bed and Downtown.
It was usually around $2.50 a cup x 10.
Total = £17.39 | $25
In my first hostel I tended to walk in a lot, even though it was 2 miles away. This wasn’t the best idea. I got tired, but it was so nice walking along the riverwalk on the sunny morn. When I didn’t walk, they seemed to just wave me on to the bus, not bothered whether I paid or not. Which was brilliant.
I also got two Lyfts, which is like Uber, seeing as they gave us all a $20 voucher at the festival, so those trips didn’t amount to much.
I’m going to have to estimate this one because they don’t give tickets on the buses. There was also a festival bus that went between the Convention Centre and the Alamo cinema but I never quite mastered it.
$20 on the bus ($1.75 a journey)
$5 on Lyfts (I had that free voucher)
Total = £17.39 | $25
Socks – for that day when my feet were dying and it was only about 10am. I shouldn’t have walked two miles with uncomfortable trainers with no socks. I NEED FLIP FLOPS dammit. And then I accidentally bought kids socks which only fitted halfway up my feet. It wasn’t a good hour for me.
Total = £4.17 | $5.99
Final cost of SXSW
Ticket = £1095
10 nights of peak time hostel accommodation = £400.25
Flight = £516.17
Other expenses = £79.31 + £64.01 + £17.39 + £17.39 + £4.17 = £182.27
+ $45 | £32
– which is the difference of what has actually gone from my purse
(which I presume I’ve spent on water, or other drinks / food, I guess, who knows… )
Total = £2225.69
(£222.60 per day)
But, after ticket, flight and accommodation, I actually only spent £21 a day and ate and drank like a trooper with constant entertainment from 9am to 6am (my latest night!).