RTX is fast approaching, and I feel like I should share some of what I know about Austin, Texas.
1) Plastic Bags are not allowed. Unless you're eating at a non chain restaurant, you won't find plastic bags. Most stores sell their paper, so it's easier (in most cases) to purchase one or two reusable bags during your stay. HEB has cute Austin themed ones, so it's serving a purpose, AND it's a souvenir.
2) If you stay within the city limits, something is always open. Bars, breakfast diners, dining restaurants, something is always open. I remember last year we were walking back to the hotel from 6th street at maybe 2:30 am, and we stopped for donuts. Something is always open.
3) Get a good burger at least once. This still applies if you are a non meat eater. Austin has some amazing vegetarian/vegan friendly places. My personal favorites are P.Terry's, which you can only get in Austin, and What-a-burger, which you can (mostly) only get in Texas. Last year, I had an amazing black bean burger at a bbq place near the convention center, though I can't remember the name.
4) There's always food within walking distance, but leave with a plan or you will be walking for hours. From the ACC I've walked and had Phở, sushi, Tex-Mex, straight up Mexican, Wings, Asian, and burgers.
5) REMEMBER WHERE YOU PARKED. Two years ago, @swirlfire and I took a fellow guardian all over Austin to try and find her car, and unfortunately, we ended up dropping her off at her hostel. Drop a pin, take a picture, keep the parking ticket, something. I have never wanted to help someone so much with no power to do so. Don't lose your car to Austin, know where it is.
6) It's pretty hot here. Make sure you wear sunscreen, take advantage of shade, and drink plenty of water. Please drink water. If you're out drinking, please drink water. If you're walking from the ACC to the JW, please drink water. If you are standing outside in the sun, please drink water. In the past years, the swag bags have the perfect room to carry a snack and drink. Please do so.
7) Some people think all of Texas is cows, horseback riding, and cowboy hats. This is not true. Texas is just like a lot of other places. If you travel outside the city, you will most likely see cattle, horses, and cowboys. You're also likely to see hogs, deer, rabbits, and random drive thru zoos with all sorts of animals. You'll see cops on horseback, specifically at 2 am on 6th street, when they clear the streets and let cars use it again. It's normal. They have those in New York, too.
8) This is a personal preference of @swirlfire and I, but we never eat anywhere that is also in our home town. Specifically, fast food. If we have it at home, we're not exploring a new city through food. Even though we live in Texas, we've been to Austin numerous times, and even lived there for a time, you can always find somewhere new. (I realize a lot of my numbers are about food. Dude, the food tho.)
9) The weekly Austin Chronicle (found online or at the door of most stores) is the best paper to pick up for a listing of current events and show listings. Chances are, you’ll find at least several shows that are of interest to you-- this is the “capital of live music.” Last year we randomly found out about a Drive In 80's Theater that way. There's also coupons once in a while, which I (a terrible coupon clipper) find invaluable. I like saving 10$ on Tacos, ok?
10) This one's a little ugly, but it needs to be said, As a brown person who experiences it on an almost daily basis, I feel I can talk about it. Austin is honestly one of the best places in Texas. You are accepted as one of their own (Unless you're from Southern California) and shown a wonderful friendliness. Breast feeding is protected by law. Anywhere a man can go topless, a female can, too. (In my experience) the police are friendly, and will even laugh at you if you ask a really stupid question. However, if you travel further outside of Austin, into the smaller towns of Texas, racism and sexism still very much exist. I live in a small Texas town, and have to constantly defend where I was born. I have black friends who are greeted with hostility, one who was told he wasn't allowed into another person's house. If you are traveling outside the city, be prepared. Hopefully, no one encounters any. RTX is a great fun place, and I hope everyone is safe while there.
11) Have someone know where you're going/Know where you are. Have a meet up place. Nothing is scarier than losing your friend in a bar and not being able to contact them because WIFI was shut off because it's closing time and you can't use your phone in America. (Actually happened, and we reunited her and her friend.) Even if it's something as simple as screenshot the Uber page and send it to your mom. Even if 's something that seems as stupid as the group meets in front of the Shark Robot Booth at 4pm to break for dinner. It helps keep everyone safe, accounted for, and together. It can be very scary in a city you don't know, country you don't know, by yourself. It can also be very scary to lose your friend. Keep in contact! GroupMe, What'sApp, Discord, even Facebook Messenger is a great way to keep in contact with your group. Worst case scenario, you get lost and have to find the police to get you back. WORST worst case scenario, they all go to P.Terry's without you because they couldn't find you.
12) The slogan of the city is "Keep Austin Weird." If you see anything crazy, it's totally normal here. If you see a mostly naked pedicabber, or a group of bar hoppers at 10am, or a man stapling money to himself, don't be surprised. However, if a Street Performer grabs your attention and makes you stop, you totally owe him a dollar.
This is by far a definitive list, but thing's I've learned from experience either in my travels to new cities, or by meeting other Guardians and attendees that have never really traveled before. I want to be the old lady and share my knowledge. If you have any more, feel free to comment them below!