Guess what, guys? It is our favorite time of the year! Yes, it is finally FESTIVAL SEASON and you know what that means? Time to brush up on your music festival survival guide do’s and don’ts.
As a couple who has bonded, traveled to and worked for many music festivals and I, who has a career in marketing for music festivals, we are both so excited it is finally here. SxSW, Coachella, Future Music Festival, Bonaroo, Lollapalooza, ACL, Governors Ball are just a few big ones that we look forward to every year.
We have seen and done everything to master the true festival experience. We have created the ultimate music festival survival guide full of tips and music festival essentials, everything from festival camping, to the actual festival, to even dealing with the bathrooms!
A weekend can be ruined if you aren’t prepared for a few days of great music and great vibes, so we are here to help you have the best experience of your life. Here is our music festival survival guide to have an epic time!
MUSIC FESTIVAL GUIDE
1. BRING YOUR WRISTBANDS!
This is THE festival essential and probably the most obvious, and sadly, we see the wristbands being left behind more than we would like (Even we did it!).
You will not get in without and it is the worst feeling when all your friends get their wristbands out and you realize you forgot yours, at home, a 3 hour drive (or flight) away.
2. Your ID is just as important.
Again, another obvious one, BUT bring your ID if you plan on drinking. Most festivals have an ID check inside the grounds and a sectioned off drinking section so they require you to get a 21+ wristband before even getting a drink. Better safe than sorry.
3. Wear good walking shoes.
Yea, you want to be trendy in your cute little boho sandals and it’s hot out and they match your outfit, but people will step on your toes countlessly, you will get blisters if your shoes are uncomfortable, your sandals can break, and your feet and perfect festival pedicure get so dirty. Also, those never give you flattering tan lines….
4. Bring a pair of sunglasses and a bandana.
Sunglasses are great to block out sun and sand from your eyes and the bandana helps keep the sand and dust from your mouth and nose. Last year at Coachella, there was a sand storm that made dirt and dust fly everywhere. We didn’t have the bandanas so we woke up with black dirt pretty much embedded into our skin.
It wasn’t pleasant.
5. Pack some electrolytes and trail mix for the day.
It’s hot and sweaty out there, so the electrolytes help replenish the lack of vitamins you lose throughout the day… plus when you’re drinking, you’ll need them even more. And trail mix is just always a good and filling snack!
6. Earplugs are your friend.
I don’t want to sound like that old person now, but I have been to a few festivals and I have definitely damaged my ears. Music is so loud at festivals (especially when your goal is to go straight to the front) which is a great thing, but the ringing you hear afterwards, is actually permanent ear damage! Protect your ears at festivals to hear the music at a normal decibel. Also, you can use them when you sleep!! Bang! Double usage!
7. The best way to find your friends is to have a big stand out sign.
A pole with a teddy bear, a big cut out of your friends face (or Steve Buscemi’s), a noodle.Bring something that will be easy to find – the more obscure, the better and more obvious. You will almost always find your friends in a crowd when they have an obnoxious stand out sign.
8. Put your pride aside and bring a fanny pack.
Hey, they may not be cool but they are damn helpful. Purses break, snag onto people, and are just annoying at a festival. Fanny packs are easy to carry, they surprisingly hold a lot, and they’re awesome festival gear!
9. Bring some sneaky festival flasks.
We have done the sunscreen bottles, mini bottles in your pants, plastic ziploc bags filled with booze – but we found these plastic flasks that fit perfectly in every spot you feel like hiding it. Bras, undies, in boots, jacket hood – they are great!
Tips for the festival:
1. Plan your day for who you want to see.
Don’t be that person that looks back at a festival and goes “Vance Joy was there? And I missed it? Ugh”. That’s never fun. You also don’t want to be so stuck in the crowds that it takes you 45 min to get out and miss the acts!
Plan before you get to the festival or download the festival app that way you get notifications when you should start heading over to see the performance!
2. Bring an empty plastic bottle and drink LOTS of water.
There are lots of drugs, drinking, fun and sun at festivals that you tend forget to drink water. You don’t want to get dehydrated or pass out because you failed to keep hydrated. That in itself can take away a whole day out of your festival weekend just to recoop.
Bring an empty bottle of water so you can refill at water stations. Also, keep a look out for water programs – some do “pick up 10 bottles for a free one!”
3. Love your booze at a festival but find it too expensive? Bring these Speakeasy Briefs to sneak in alcohol! It’s a pair of briefs that has a zipper on the crotch area to put flask in. Genius? I think so. Does it work? Absolutely, yes it does!
As someone who has worked in the music industry and as the fun police (the person who checks for alcohol), they are not allowed to pat you on the crotch or boobs. It also saves you heaps of money from buying drinks. So these are essentials for an epic time!
4. Drink sensibly.
I have seen people puke on themselves, get kicked out for underage drinking, mix alcohol and drugs (and not drinking water), having sex in portos (disgusting, yes), making out with a tree, and even broken some bones. This doesn’t happen with everyone but it happens. Have a buddy with you, drink water, use electrolytes powder, and eat
This doesn’t happen with everyone but it definitely happens. Have a buddy with you, drink water, use electrolytes powder, and eat throughout the day. Have fun but be safe!
5. Time stamp your text messages.
Usually, there are so many people attending music festivals, that reception gets a bit fuzzy. So when you are trying to meet up with friends, make sure you timestamp your text messages.
“Meet me in 2 hours at the entrance. 5:42 pm.” It can be hours before you receive something, so make a system with your friends!
6. If you actually plan on drinking or doing drugs, make sure you have some next day remedy.
I prefer coconut water or berocca. You do’t want to get so hungover that you can’t make it out the next day (or being hung in the extreme heat for that matter), so plan with hangovers in mind! Take care of yourselves :)
7. Label or screenshot your contact info on phones and camera.
People lose things all the time and most festivals have a pretty good lost and found system. If your contact info is somewhere on your phone, camera, purse and wallet, it will most likely be returned to lost and found, then up on their website!
But also, try not to lose anything.
8. Put your phone on airplane mode when you aren’t texting.
Your phone will last way longer to take your pics throughout the festival. You can snapchat and instastories and let them load when you turn your phone off airplane mode.
Plus, enjoy the damn festival! You aren’t here to spend all day on your phone!
1. The Survival Necessities.
Tent, a sleeping bag, and pillows are festival essentials if you plan to camp. Depending on where the festival is, temperatures can heavily drop at night. But regardless, sleep is good at a festival, you wanna be prepared for the festivities the next day!
Last Coachella, Jack and I slept in my car. Pulled down all the seats, blew up an
air mattress, brought a comforter, and used those sun shades over our windows to block out the sun and it was PERFECT.
2. Bring utensils, paper plates, and plastic cups.
You can bring food and drinks to the camping grounds, which helps you save a fortune from buying festival food and drinks (about $12 per meal and $8 per drink!). Yikes. Plus, plastic utensils are best to just use and throw out!
3. Bring a tarp for shade.
It gets hot and shade is always a good idea.
4. Zip ties can save your festival experience.
This might sound random, but these definitely come in handy to secure any tarps or tents to something sturdy especially when it’s windy out.
5. Freeze most of your bottles of water.
You should take a cooler, get 4 1 gallon waters, and pack the cooler with 3 of them frozen. Why? So it keeps your drinks cold throughout the weekend and it will eventually melt away as cold drinking water during your weekend.
Put ice in the cooler as well to keep the first few drinks cool but once melted, you can use it to shower.
6. Facial wipes will be your savior.
It’s dusty, sweaty, hot, and pretty gross being mushed into a group of dancing, sticky humans so bring facial wipes as a quick and easy way to wipe down/ camp shower out at a festival. They also can keep you cool when hot if you put them in your coolers!
7. If you really want to shower, bring a solar shower.
Lines get soooo long at festivals to shower, and they are pretty gross. A solar shower is pretty useful if you’re really desparate for a shower option. Solar showers can make hot water, but lets be real, its usually hot out at these festivals and cold shower feels so nice!
8. Always bring duct tape.
Duct tape is like mint tea for Moroccan people; it fixes everything! Holes in tents, broken shoes, drunk people tripping over your stuff, taping things to poles to find your friends, makeshift clothing and the list goes on.
9. Don’t be gross and bring bin bags.
Come on, clean up after yourself.
10. A power bank is the best to charge your things.
Yes there are charging stations but they can be so crowded and most of the time, the sockets are all filled. Charge a power bank and use it to charge your electronics. It should last a few charges!
11. Portable speakers are always a good idea.
Just because the festival has ended, doesn’t mean you can’t still jam on. Plus, friendly people (and drunks) are always attracted to those listening to great music! It’s a fun way to meet people, but please do respect those trying to sleep at night. It is a long weekend!
13. Bring a deck of cards.
Because Kings Cup.
Tips for camping:
1. Do not bring any glass bottles.
The festival security can remove them because they are not safe. They break, they can cause danger – just bring plastics or cans. Beers or liquor in disguised plastic bottles is always smart or just hide things super well. Booze is costly at festivals, make sure you are well stocked for an epic time!
2. Make your camping space recognizable.
There’s nothing worse than walking around for ages unable to find your campsite (especially in the dark). Fairy lights, a big pole with a teddy bear, flags! The higher the better to be able to recognize where your spot is. Plus, more people come to the tents that look cooler!!
3. Play some music, but not too loud at night.
Play some good tunes, invite some passerbys, and have a bit of a dance party. Try not to be too loud at night – you are here to partake in the festival and so is everyone else, so be respectful at night that way others can sleep and enjoy their festival weekend.
4. Stay close to your friends cars in line to camping.
If you are going with a few friends with a few cars, make sure all your cars are behind each other that way you are parked together when camping! You can make a pretty awesome set up when you are all together!
5. Lock up your stuff.
This one always gets 50/50. Some say it’s safer to lock up your stuff, or if you put a lock on your tent, it seems like you’re hiding something of value, making your tent a bigger target. But we think it’s better to be safe than sorry! Or just lock things up in a car. Your choice.
1. You need to bring tissues or wipes.
Like NEED to. You will thank us for this one. Not all stalls have toilet paper or sometimes the toilet paper is wet for some gross reason, so always bring wipes. For toilets, hands, and touch ups. There are also wipes for dudes, so no excuses guys!
They are easy to store in those trendy fanny packs.
2. Toilet seat covers can be used if you are desperate.
This one isn’t for everyone, but if you are a germaphobe and are disgusted by small human waste boxes that have been baking in the hot sun, the seat covers can help ya out.
3. If you have no shame, bring a she wee.
Ladies, men can pee everywhere-the world is their oyster and it’s not fair for us! She wee’s can help you pee in any place at anytime (hopefully, no cops are around). It is just an easy female peeing device that lets you go wherever you need instead of waiting in lines.
Tips for bathrooms:
1. Head to the porto potties when you feel the need to.
If you need to go just a little bit, start making your way as soon as you can because by the time you wait you will have to go badly! That always happens to me and I end up doing my pee dance the entire time I am waiting.
You don’t want to head over when the performance is done because everyone and their moms will be going at the same time. There can be long lines but, hey, if you can hold it til the end of the act, more power to you!
2. If bathroom lines are an issue, get VIP tickets.
In other words, ‘Very Important Potties’. VIP tickets are great for the potties since not many use them, the lines aren’t as long, and they’re cleaner? I guess? Just better than the GA toilets! (Ps. I hear these are the new bathrooms at Coachella…quite the improvement!)
We hope you have the most amazing festival weekend and we are so jealous where ever you may be!
Festivals were some of the best experiences we have ever had. Great music, wonderful people, and just the ultimate vibe- festivals don’t get any better! ENJOY YOUR FESTIVAL SEASON!!! xx
Have any tips we missed? Tell us about your favorite festival experience!
Please share our guide with all your festi-friends if you liked it! :)