Like clockwork, since the last few weeks have slowly gotten warmer, my inbox has been hit with every reminder of all the big summer music festivals. Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Afropunk, Coachella, to even local events like Electric Forest and Movement are sending out their email and social media blasts with reminders ranging from pre-sale to sale dates and lineups.  Stores like Nordstrom, Topshop, Forever 21, and H&M are already sending out their festival season edits and look-books. In the rush and excitement of planning on attending one or if you’re lucky, multiple festivals this season, here are some tips from someone who has survived a few without too many wounds.

  1. It’s possible to attend a festival at the last minute, but better to plan months to a year before in some cases. Things happen, such as money and logistics issues. Sometimes it’s best to give your boss and parents heads up a few months in prior then remind them a few weeks before.
  2. Someone who was coming might not be able to at the last minute for whatever reason.  This happened with my friends last year, four of us were going but one person had to pull out the day before after her internship hired her in fully.
  3. Save at least $300-400 more than planned. If someone does have to bail, extra money helps covering their part. You might’ve had money for gas, hotels or your Air B&B figured out with a different number involved. Now with one person short you all should be able to figure out how to cover their absence.
  4. If you’re driving to a festival in-state or out, take the car that has little to no issues.  Make sure the car has had at least a basic inspection (oil, tires, trans fluid, brakes, a working spare, and jack) two weeks before. You don’t want to break down or get a flat in the middle of nowhere and not be able to change it.
  5. Make sure you all have your passes on you before you head out. If they’re mobile passes, make sure they’re saved. If they’re wristbands, make sure you each have yours or designate the most responsible person to hold onto them.
  6. If you’re the friend who’s unfortunately the responsible one, be prepared to play parent. Sometimes even in overtime mode. That means making sure phones are charged, bring an extra charger & power bank.
  7. Due to unfortunate security issues, most fests are no longer allowing bags with more than one pouch. Some are now selling branded drawstring gym sacks which are cleared for entry. Buy your own cheap one before the festival or shell out money for the festival one.
  8. You will live in sunblock. Most festivals will let you bring in carry-on size bottle. I don’t care how much melanin you’ve got in your skin. Especially those with paler skin.  Being out in the sun from dawn until past midnight for however long you attend you will wake up with sunburn then spend the rest of the event painfully peeling.
  9. Whether you’ve paid for general admission or VIP passes, everyone’s got to go through security and lines are long and hot. Bring a disposable bottle of water to drink in line. You’ll be asked to trash it when you get to the front.
  10. Also while you’re in a hot, crowded line, try to be nice or at least civil to the people around you. There’s always going to be that one jerk in line being hostile for no good reason. Don’t be that jerk.
  11. More than likely, you’ll watch someone get stupid drunk in line with something they’re trying to sneak in. Sometimes people will pass the alcohol around. Do not drink it. I watched a group of strangers do that at Lolla on day two then ran into some of them again, totally sick. Drunk in a slow-moving, hot security check means spending that day feeling horrible.
  12. Also you’ll sometimes have people come up offering you things. I’ve been offered everything from harmless pins, crystals & beads to some very dangerous stuff. Stuff that I can only imagine how they snuck it in. Accept the prayer beads or crystals, say thanks and pass on the illegal stuff.
  13. Be prepared to lose track of friends in the crowd and sometimes not having service, despite your provider claiming to have super coverage in the area. A good way to cut through the crowd is to hold hands and walk through at an angle. Another tactic, pretend you need to puke and move fast while having another friend go with you shouting that you need to puke. It works well, trust me.
  14. Do not let buzzed friends wonder off or go to the restrooms alone.
  15. Eat something before heading in each day. Even if it’s a cereal bar. Eat something a few hours in and drink water. Alcohol and energy drinks will dehydrate you more. I’ve watched people drop like flies from thinking they were fine but were actually dehydrated and hungry.
  16. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your style. It’s a festival, it’s about having fun. A lot of clothing brands and stores make lots of money this time of year cause everyone’s buying the same festival looks. Then when you get there about 95% of attendees look the same.  Body glitter, crop tops, short sleeved button ups, feathered and fringed accessories. Everyone looks like they raided Topshop and H&M. Groundbreaking.
  17. Also in terms of clothes, don’t feel the need to spend large amounts of money.  Thrifting, TJ Maxx, Target, or rework something you own. Why spend lots of money on looks that’ll be stained/torn by the end?
  18. Pack for the weather but bring a hoodie or sweatshirt. Parties go way into the night and those boiling temps earlier will drop by twilight. The last few I attended had extended temps listed as overcast and mild only for all four days to be sunny and high 80’s.
  19. Have fun, talk to people who you think mean well, avoid those who give off bad vibes.  Lots of little things can add up to make a festival memorable. Sometimes meeting new people can be as much fun as the music.
  20. If you’re in another city, spend the mornings before the grounds open checking out tourists spots. There are usually lots of free to cheap things to do in places that host festival events.