Music is a wonderful gift that we sometimes don’t deserve. It can bring people together and create incredible experiences shared with family and friends. If you’ve experienced a music festival before, you know how incredibly surreal the entire event can be. You also know there’s a lot that goes into making that weekend a success. So whether you’re about to party it up at Coachella or ACL grab a pen and write these helpful survival tips down. You’ll thank us later.
1. Plan your stops.
Music festivals are an absolute gift from the music Gods because you have the chance to see multiple amazing acts within one weekend! With that being said, it’s important to map out what performances you’ll be seeing throughout your festival experience. Most music festivals have several stages spread apart. You’ll need to know who you’re seeing in order to figure out where you’re going. By planning out the performances you want to catch, you can also plan on when to get some food, when to purchase another drink and when to take a bathroom break! Most music festivals have apps now that make it incredibly easy to map out the performances you want to see.
2. Read festival rules & guidelines.
There’s nothing worse than arriving at a themed party and not being dressed appropriately. To think, you could have avoided the embarrassment if you’d just read the actual invite. The same idea applies to music festivals. Each festival has its own set of rules and regulations. Some festivals have restrictions on the kind of food or beverages you can bring in. Others might limit the size of your bag. Regardless, it’s important to be aware of what is and isn’t allowed at the festival you are attending.
3. Wear comfortable shoes.
Think practical, not cute. This might seem like common sense, but if you aren’t prepared to stand, walk, run and jump in the shoes you’re wearing then they probably shouldn’t be worn in the first place. A LOT of walking, running, standing, jumping and more walking will be done when you’re at a music festival. There’s a really great chance that your shoes will be covered in dirt, scuff marks, scratches and spilt drinks. Ultimately, don’t wear shoes you’re too attached to.
4. Dress code is key.
We know you want to look cute and possibly catch Anthony Kiedis or Brandon Flowers eye, but don’t subject yourself to uncomfortable clothing all for the sake of looking cute for a couple of hours. Remember, it can get hot and you will get sweaty! If you are opting for a cute festival look, at least try to wear breathable fabrics. Remember you’ll be in a sea of crowds under the beaming sun. Maybe you should reconsider that full sequin outfit?
5. Stay hydrated.
Music festival season is typically during the warmer months of the year, so with that being said you definitely want to plan on staying hydrated with something other than overpriced beer and wine! Most venues will let you bring in recyclable water bottles or factor sealed water bottles. You can also always purchase water inside the venue, but it can be much cheaper to just bring your own water bottles and refill at the provided hydration stations and water fountains at the festival.
You work hard and you deserve to play hard! Nothing should get in the way of you jamming out to your favorite band while sipping on a cold beer, but you can’t go an entire weekend just living off alcohol (or you shouldn’t). Be sure to keep yourself fed. Drinking on an empty stomach can be incredibly dangerous. The good thing is most festivals have food trucks and vendors all festival goers can dine at. If you have a break in between performances, be sure to refuel with some water and food or snacks.
7. Check the weather.
Weather is unpredictable, but it doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared. It’s really important to check the weather before you head out to a music festival for several reasons. One being you’ll want to make sure you’ve dressed accordingly. For example, you’ll probably opt for some shorts and a crop top in 90-degree weather, but if it’s looking like it might rain you’ll opt for some old shoes you don’t care for or even a pair of rain boots. You can even pack an umbrella and/or wear some rain boots to avoid losing shoes to layers of mud if it does in fact rain. Additionally, rain might affect your commute and you’ll want to make sure you have a backup plan. Whatever the case may be, check the weather so you can prepare adequately.
8. Stay vigilant.
Never leave your stuff unattended, no matter how free-spirited and amazing the environment or atmosphere might be. Always keep your wallet and personal belongings in your bag or on you at all times. It only takes a second to lose your keys, wallet, cell phone or other personal items. If you’re with a group of friends, ask someone to watch your stuff, even if you’re only leaving for a quick minute. Experiencing theft is the quickest way to put a damper on your festival experience.
9. Sunscreen. Sunscreen. Sunscreen.
It can be easy to forget about sunscreen when you’re having the time of your life, but you’ll be doing yourself a favor when you don’t show up to work on Monday looking like a lobster. Sunscreen should be worn every day, and your music festival experience is no exception. Don’t underestimate those cloudy days either–you can still catch a really nasty burn during a less-than-sunny day. Be sure to reapply sunscreen to your face and all exposed body parts throughout the day. Also, did you know sunscreen can help fight wrinkles? Bet you’ll remember sunscreen next time!
There’s a good chance that you will have to use the portable restrooms at some point. Thousands of people will also be using those same portable restrooms. While it isn’t the most glorious activity, it is part of the experience and you’ll want to be prepared for it. Be sure to pack wet wipes, hand sanitizer and your own supply of toilet paper. The supplies are pretty self-explanatory and incredibly useful.
11. Separation anxiety.
Music festivals are a great opportunity for friends and family to hang out and have fun, but it can also be a bit chaotic coordinating between so many people. Cell phone reception is also virtually non-existent while at a music festival, so be prepared. In the event, you and your group split up throughout the weekend set up a designated meeting place. So if you lose track of your friends or get separated from the group, don’t freak out. You prepared for this! If you plan on catching different acts, you can all plan to meet back up at this designated spot after the performances.
12. First-Aid supplies.
In the spirit of being prepared, put together a small first-aid kit that is easy to carry. You’ll want to pack band-aids, Advil, tissues and antihistamines. These will all come in handy. Bandaids are great for aiding blistered up feet and pounding headaches. Advil can also come in handy if you’re feeling aches and pains that accompany the music festival experience. The antihistamines can help alleviate sneezing, itchy watery eyes that occur due to the dust, dirt and other allergens in the air.
13. Handy gadgets.
Because you’ll be out and about for at least 10 hours, it might be a good idea to invest in a reliable portable cell phone charger. This way, you don’t have to worry about your phone being dead when it’s time to call an Uber or you’re having issues locating the group you came with.
14. Fanny pack it out.
The bright side is fanny packs are a lot more socially acceptable now. It might seem like a bit of a fashion risk, but it’s much easier to get around crowds with a small fanny pack as opposed to a larger, bulky backpack. If you don’t plan on bringing any spare clothes or large items then a fanny pack is exactly what you need to hold your ID, credit cards, cash and cell phone.
15. Don’t drink and drive.
So you’ve made it through the day and you’re ready to call it a night. If you’ve enjoyed a few drinks and your home, apartment or hotel aren’t walking distance then be sure to find an alternate mode of transportation. There are plenty of methods of transportation in most major cities such as Lyft, Uber, city buses and taxi cabs. If you could afford a $12 12 ounce beer, you can certainly afford a designated driver that keeps you and others safe.