How I Prepare for Music Festivals

Who is excited for the 2019 Festival Season? I know I am! The kick off will be the weekend of March 8th, which is just a short week and a half away. It’s so close I can almost taste it. I am looking forward to all the new content that artists create for festival season to finally be released. I unfortunately (as of right now) will not be attending any festivals this year, but I thought I could write a quick helpful blog about how I prepare for music festivals. If you have never been to a music festival before, please know this is NOT something you can prepare for overnight. It is a lengthy process of working out travel details, requesting time off from work, purchasing and packing camping equipment, or booking of hotel. I am going to walk you through exactly how I prepare for each festival so that you can arrive like a pro.

Be prepared for all kinds of weather.

This is something that I failed to do my first time packing for a music festival and I learned my lesson the hard way. If you are going to festivals like Electric Forest, the weather will range from the high 90’s with tons of sun in the daytime and drop to the low 40’s at night. I had no clue it would get so cold at night so I suffered miserably that whole weekend. Don’t let that happen to you! Trust me, it will impact your experience. Remember to pack layers so that you can easily add or remove layers based on the temperature outside at the moment. Also, pack plenty of sunscreen. Even if it seems like you won’t get burnt, you will. Don’t let an irritating sunburn ruin your trip.

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Have a plan for looking good.

Sure, I understand that at these festivals, you will spend all day (and possibly all night) outside. With that being said, ignoring my hygiene and appearance for four whole days is just something I cannot do. Here are the best tips that I rounded up for staying fresh at festivals:

  • Bring cash for showers. A lot of campsites have trailers filled with locker room-style showers you can use for $5-$10 a pop. I don’t know about you, but this is worth the cash. I suggest wearing flip flops and your swimsuit while you shower. Make sure to include this into your budget.
  • Pack a whole case of water just for cleaning purposes if you don’t want to pay for a shower. If I need to get ready super quick, I have a friend assist me with “showering” by pouring water over my head while I scrub shampoo and conditioner into my hair. I typically stick with cleaning wipes to clean the rest of my body.
  • If you hate going to bed feeling dirty or want to keep your tent dirt-free, baby wipes will be your new best friend. They’re the perfect way to wipe the dirt off your neck, underarms, forehead, feet, and more. Bring a full pack to leave at your campsite, then pack a few singles in a plastic baggy to bring with you during the day.
  • Remember your old standbys from home, dry shampoo and makeup primer. Dry shampoo will make even the dirtiest hair last another day or two, while a good makeup primer will keep any makeup you have on from melting all over your face. I personally like to go makeup free, but I have many friends who rock makeup the whole weekend.
  • Speaking of makeup, leave as much at home as you possibly can. You want to stick to things you can apply quickly and easily, and not bring anything that is at risk for melting. I usually try to survive the weekend with Chap stick and waterproof mascara, but to each its own!
  • This is obvious, but double check to make sure you have your hair ties, deodorant, contact solution, medications, and any other essentials you think you might need.
  • Again, do not forget sunscreen! This will probably be the most important thing you pack all weekend.

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Beware of wearing the wrong things.

As much as I love rompers and leotards, they are not always the best choice for music festivals. Both will be problematic if you have to use the restroom throughout the day. Since most festivals only have Port-A-Pottys, removing your entire outfit to do your business is not ideal. The Port-A-Pottys get more and more questionable throughout the day (they are emptied and cleaned every morning), so I avoid wearing rompers and leotards at all costs. If you decide to wear a dress, wear shorts underneath to help avoid chaffing and showing your bum to the world if a gust of wind picks up your dress. I also run some Glide on the inside of my thighs every morning to help avoid chaffing. Finally, go easy on the perfume if you are in a wooded area with lots of mosquitoes. Substitute that perfume with some bug spray so you can guard your body from those annoying pests.

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Bring a backpack with lots of pockets.

This is always a lifesaver. I have a backpack with a weird secret pocket within a pocket. Most people working security skip right over it because they are trying to look through the whole bag so quickly. I have been able to stuff food and alcohol in the pocket and it has saved me so much money. Some people choose fanny packs, but having somewhere to keep a towel, snacks, water bottle, sun screen, money, and other miscellaneous supplies is really helpful. But be warned, don’t bring in too much stuff because you’ll be stuck carrying it all day. If you’re prone to losing your phone or other valuables, keep it in a designated pocket so that you know where those items are located at all times. Losing your phone or any other valuables puts a damper on the entire weekend. You’ll have other things on your mind so you could easily walk off and forget about them, especially if you’ve had a few drinks.

Decide who your ‘must-see’ artists are.

You have a limited amount of time, so you can’t see it all. A lot of artists overlap or end as another begins and could be at the other side of the festival. This is why you’ve got to have a priority. Once you have decided on the must-sees, create an offline copy of the schedule on your phone or print your schedule before you leave.

Prepare for no cellular service.

There may be a short duration throughout the weekend that you pick up a few bars on your phone, but most of the time you will have no cellular service. This is why I highly suggest keeping an offline copy of your schedule, so that you can look at it throughout the weekend to remember exactly what stage and time each must-see performance will be. On the first day stake out a good spot you can all meet if you decide to go different ways or if you accidentally get separated from your friends. Designated meetings spots are a must! Also, be aware of what’s around your campsite to get your bearings about the place. As it gets dark, knowing these will come in handy!

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Be cautious of gifts.

This goes back to the golden rule all parents teach children; don’t accept things from strangers. Even if it looks harmless, be prepared that the brownie, chocolate, gum or alcohol you were given may be more than just that. You can always accept it to be nice and throw it away as soon as you walk away. Use your own judgement and decide what you want to accept, but please be mindful.

Enter the festival with a full tank.

Fill up your tank before entering the festival grounds. You will turn your car on and off throughout the weekend to charge your electronics and I have seen many cars run out of gas before the festival is over. Don’t make the same mistake.

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What to bring.

Food

The festival is usually a good walk from the campsite, so it’s not really feasible to keep going back and forth. Once you’re inside you’ll probably stay there. Bring enough food to snack on while you’re hanging out at the campsite, but don’t bring so much that it goes to waste. It’s important to bring food that’ll still be good once your ice melts. Think things like:

  • Granola bars
  • Bananas
  • Oranges
  • Apples
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
  • Protein bars
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Crackers
Packing List
  • Concert ticket or wristband (this is very important)
  • Cash (ATMs inside the festival charge a fee. It’s better to have too much money, than not enough)
  • Tent
  • Tarps (the more the better)
  • E-Z pop up tent (it’ll be a life-saver if you are new to the camping scene)
  • Scissors
  • Flashlights/headlights/lantern (multiple sources of light)
  • Cooler (load it with water bottles and ice or reusable ice packs before you go and purchase more if you need once you get there)
  • Fold-able chairs
  • Blankets (the more the better)
  • Pillows
  • Air mattress and battery powered pump
  • Batteries
  • Table (not necessary, but much appreciated)
  • Towels
  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Battery powered fan
  • Water bottle or camelback backpack
  • Portable cell phone charger (if you don’t want to wait at the charging stations, bring one for every night)
  • Jumper cables for your car (it probably will die)
  • Toilet paper (Port-A-Pottys will run out)
  • Trash bags
  • Paper towels
  • Tapestries (for decor and makes it easier to locate campsite)
  • Cups, plates, eating utensils
  • Watch (besides your phone, which may die)
  • Baby wipes
  • Water (jugs or bottles)
  • Dry shampoo
  • Toiletries needed to get ready
  • Rain boots
  • Poncho
  • Variety of clothes

Clothing to pack.

The most important thing to consider when packing your clothes, is to pack for comfort. Don’t pack anything that would make you heartbroken if it were to get ruined.

  • For women I suggest wearing dresses because it’s nice having something light and flowy on when in the sun all day. A basic jersey sundress will do. If you aren’t a fan of dresses, stick with shorts and tank tops. Pack your 2 comfiest bras, so that you have a backup bra if the other gets dirty (you will sweat a lot).
  • For guys I suggest wearing shorts and tank tops.
  • Underwear- Pack 2 pairs of underwear for each day you will be attending the festival. This may sound a little excessive, but after sweating your butt off all day, it’s nice to slip into clean underwear right before you go to sleep. Have a small trash bag on hand to put your dirty underwear in to keep it separated from your clean clothes.
  • Hat- Pack a hat to cover your ears and face from the sun. Your skin will thank you.
  • Rain jacket or poncho- Ultimately, if you don’t pack it then it will rain. Be prepared!
  • A hoodie- It always gets colder at night, so packing a hoodie is always a life saver.
  • Swimsuit- I mainly pack a swimsuit to shower in, but some festivals have water parks and fountains to keep the festival goers cool.
  • Bandanna- A bandanna can be worn over your nose and mouth to avoid breathing in dust, can be used as a headband or can be drenched in cold water and tied around your neck.
  • Tevas or Chacos- I personally own a pair of Tevas, but both brands make a good shoe. They are extremely comfortable and easy to pair with any outfit. It’s nice having a shoe with a back, but let’s my feet feel the air, unlike athletic shoes that make my feet sweat.
  • Flip flops- I only wear flip flops when I shower, use the bathroom or running around the campsite. DO NOT WEAR THE FLIP FLOPS INTO THE FESTIVAL (this is a rookie mistake). If it rains and creates a lot of mud, your feet will get stuck in the mud and most likely your flip flops will break.
  • Rain boots- If it rains and creates giant mud pits, rain boots are your saving grace.

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Embrace the experience.

You’ll never be able to duplicate an experience like an outdoor festival. Even if you go to the same music festival multiple times, each experience is unique. Be sure to explore all aspects and really soak up the whole event. Meet new people. Join a yoga session or Frisbee game. Don’t worry about how you look or what people think. The more you are willing to step outside your comfort zone, the more the weekend will become more memorable to you.

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Stories or Tips? Please share them!

What music festivals have you been to? Which festivals are you going to this year? What items did you wish you packed, and what did you pack that you ended up not using? What’s the best live performance you’ve seen? How did you stay clean and presentable over the weekend?

I want to know any tips or tricks you might have for the newbies. Please leave a comment and tell us your thoughts on music festivals. I can’t wait to hear what you guys have to say!

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