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I Will Never Book a Hotel for SXSW Again

Going to Austin Without Joining a Hunger Games of Lodging

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I will never book a hotel for SXSW again.

There are people who plan their SXSW trip well in advance, use the app to "favorite" all the interesting sessions and print out a minute-by-minute schedule of their week.

I am not one of those people.

In previous years, as a result, I've ultimately had to frantically search for hotel rooms in, near or not-so-near Austin in the few days before the festival. The race to get a room is brutal. It's the veritable Hunger Games of lodging.

This year, I took fate in my own hands and chose to opt out of the frenzy by flying into Houston and driving to Austin in an RV.

My colleague and I took a quick cab from the Houston Airport to the RV Rental Location, where they had our camper waiting for us out front. She was glistening from a fresh wash, brand new with only 26,000 miles. Inside the building, we met with Steve, a reddened local, who sat in front of the other myriad items for rent. Mostly ornate chocolate fountains and leaf blowers.

Steve liked to talk about the weather, and each new thought seemed to be a novel inspiration for another thought, nearly paralyzing him in the midst of completing our paperwork. But later, after a quick functional tour and a late-afternoon Chik-fil-A pit stop, we were on the road.

Three hours later, we rolled into Lone Star RV Resort -- auspiciously positioned between the Adult Video Megaplex and a Baptist church. We were set up: two queen-size-esque beds, a table for working, Wi-Fi and fridge full of Shiner and Lone Star.

Then we did have to confront one awkward reality: There's not a lot of places you can squeeze a 25 ft. fiberglass behemoth in downtown Austin, six miles away. But we found a quaint little vacant lot on the other side of the highway to park every day. And nobody seems to mind.

The whole thing wasn't half bad, once you get past the musky man-scent, eating microwaved Hot Pockets for breakfast and occasionally emptying the sewer tanks. The RV Resort gave us a prime location right in front of the showers, where it looks, feels, and smells a lot like camp.

Is it as comfortable as staying at the W? No. Do you get clean sheets every day? No. But I do enjoy the freedom of being a road warrior and rolling in on my schedule. Keep an eye out for my RV again next year.

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