It’s that time of year again – the air is getting warmer, the leaves are return to the trees and over 100,000 flower crown-wearers, live music fans, Instagram models, celebrities, and other various people willing to drop $500+ on a weekend-long festival gather in Indio, California for Coachella. Coachella is the festival of every 16-year-old’s dreams – or at least it was of mine.
But looking back at it, I’m glad I didn’t go to a festival of that caliber at that age. Festivals are a lot to handle – a marathon of live music sets often in the beating sun, with chronically low water and the few food vendors that’ll charge you $20 for one (1) taco without flinching always struggling to keep up with the long lines. You’ll return home with blisters and random cuts and bruises, sleep deprived, broke, dizzy, and hungry. Festivals are not for the faint of heart.
They are, however, will be some of the most exciting, jam-packed days of your year and will create dozens of what will be some of your favorite memories. Rookie mistakes are inevitable. You’ll definitely end up packing too much of one thing and not enough of another. There are a few mistakes, however, that you should try to avoid making. I’ve compiled a list of my top tips for festival rookies below:
Water is life
Take it from someone who has passed out in a festival crowd – it’s not fun. There’s nothing more annoying than having to leave the rail at your favorite act because you’re thirsty. Dancing with a water bottle is obnoxious.
Go with the trusty ol’ Camelback like I do or opt for something a little more fun. Vibedration packs are hot right now, and come in various styles and colors for a more ~fashionable~ hydration experience. Vibedration even sponsoring me to say this (but they totally can if they want to – if you’re part of the Vibedration team hmu). In case you’re looking for some more options to browse, this site conveniently lists them.
Fanny packs are functional & back in style
Having some kind of hydration vessel strapped to your back means plenty of room for storage in the front. You heard me correctly, kids – that fanny pack you made fun of your mom for wearing on your 2005 trip to Disney World is back in style. Mine, personally, has those fun sequins that you can run your hand over to change their color (iykyk). So fun. Plus, you can hold all of your items at once in one convenient spot AND bust a move at the same time with handy dandy, hands free storage. If I haven’t sold you on wearing a fanny pack already, you’re a lost cause.
Keep an open mind
Festivals are places where people feel at ease with being themselves! All kinds of people are attracted to festivals, all joined together with a mutual love for music and that’s a really beautiful thing. This is a time to leave your judgments at the door and embrace your own unique style and permit others to do the same. You’ll create a safe space for others and enjoy yourself more if you keep an open mind!
Struggling to figure out what to wear this festival season? Check out my blog, “The hottest festival wear for 2019,” for a guide on what to wear.
Keep your snack game strong
Now that you’ve got your handy dandy fanny, time to fill that thing with snacks! Unless you want to pass out by the rails and have to be dragged through the crowd to an open place where you can once again breathe and regain consciousness, you’ll definitely want to feed yourself every so often. Fest food is notoriously overpriced, so you’ll definitely want to bring a few things of your own. Go for something high on protein like nuts or granola bars to keep you running all day long.
If you’re going to a festival that offers camping, go for it. Especially if this is your first festival, camping can be a great way to meet people and capture more of the overall festival experience. Yes, even if the overall experience means pitching a shoddy tent over a pile of rocks on a 30 degree slope. Yes, even if torrential downpours nearly wipe your tent down the side of the mountain. You will be dirty. You will feel less like a human and more like a forest-dwelling creature by the end of it. That’s all part of the journey, soak it in.
Then again, I’ve heard from a lot of other people who do not agree with my sentiment at all. If you’re someone who hates the outdoors, values your sleep during festivals and wants somewhere to get away from it all after the show’s over, camping may not be for you.
Don’t skip packing the fun stuff
When packing for Camp Bisco last summer, my friends and I tried to pack as light as possible. We thought we might regret anything extraneous we brought. Did we really need glitter or stickers or multiple changes of clothes? The obvious answer is no, we didn’t. But those things make festivals fun! Bring something that other people can interact with. Stickers, bubbles, glitter, and lights are all lots of fun. Unique flags and totems are also great. These things may take up a tiny bit more space in your car, but it’s totally worth it.
Use the buddy system
If you’re traveling with a huge pack, of course, it’s not 100% necessary to keep an eye on everyone in your group at all times. But try to stay with at least someone in your group, or give your friends an idea of where you’re going if you tend to wander off. Festivals are a great place to meet new people, but no one wants to be the person that all their friends are missing their favorite sets to look for.
Be safe, love mom
Just in case the last point wasn’t motherly enough, I’m about to really drive it home – but only because I care! In addition to getting enough water and nutrients and at least some sleep, don’t drink too much and be safe with other substances of choice, if you choose to do them. Make sure you have at least ONE friend that you can refer to as mom and know where you can find medical services if you need it for any reason.
Cover photo is of Coachella, from Variety and not my image, in case that wasn’t clear.
Check out some festival documentary reviews by me while you’re at it, then watch the films because they’re frickin great: