If you are planning to go to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival – the music festival outside Indio, California held every April – you probably have the most important thing: tickets. That’s a good start, but if you are planning to spend one or both of the consecutive long weekends at the festival you might need a bit more to have a pleasant time. From where to stay to what to bring with to how to dress, a little preparation goes a long way to not being a dehydrated, sunburned mess at the end of the day or weekend. Here are our top 10 tips for a better Coachella.
1. Choose Lodging Wisely
If you want one of the coveted on-site camping spots, it’s absolutely crucial that you book it, along with your festival tickets, the day they go on sale. If those camping spots are sold out, you can do an off-site camping spot, or if you are not a camper or need more comfort (and your own bathroom), there are plenty of Airbnb or other rental properties in the area. Staying off-site will require you to drive to and from the festival each day, but you will have a real bed to sleep in and likely a kitchen to cook in, which might make up for the time spent in traffic.
2. Drink Plenty (of Water)
Perhaps the biggest mistake that Coachella rookies make is not staying hydrated. It’s easy to forget to drink water, or maybe you don’t want to stand in line to get it. The good news is that the price of water at the festival is capped, but you still need to get it. If you have access to a Camelback backpack or other hydration system, it’s a good idea to bring it with. You can have more water on you, which will save you from spending tons of time in line just to get something to drink.
3. Protect Yourself from the Sun
It’s only April but the desert location means temperatures can be high and sun strong. Be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen (only non-aerosol is allowed) and lip balm with SPF to avoid looking like a lobster after the first day. It’s also recommended to bring a lightweight long-sleeved shirt and some form of low-key hat with to keep yourself protected if the sun is strong.
4. Eat Wisely
You are not allowed to bring your own food or drink into the festival, and what you will find within is rather expensive and unhealthy. So, it’s best to fuel up as much as possible before entering the grounds, and if you do need to eat then it’s perhaps better to go for something like a burrito with some protein, rather than a slice of pizza that will leave you hungry in a few hours.
5. Power Up
Places to charge your phone or other electronics will be either hard to find or nonexistent. Pack your portable charger or power pack so you can charge your stuff at least once and avoid being completely cut off when your phone dies. Or you can make friends by offering a charge to someone in need.
6. Dress for the Conditions
Did we mention that Coachella takes place in the desert? That means the weather will most likely be hot during the day and cool down at night. Wear breathable, loose shorts and a T-shirt or a dress or skirt for comfort and be sure to bring extra socks for when yours get wet or sweaty. A lightweight packable jacket is a good idea, as are sunglasses and some sort of hat.
7. Bring Your Patience A-Game
You will be waiting in a lot of lines at this festival. Heck, even getting to the festival will require sitting in a lot of traffic, no matter if you are carpooling, taking an Uber, or driving yourself. Then you will need to wait in line for security to get in, get your pass scanned, and then yet again when you need food, water, or to use the bathroom. Rather than get annoyed at all of this waiting, it’s best to just embrace it. You might even make friends while in line!
8. Plan Ahead
Unsurprisingly, when you cram tens of thousands of people into an area, mobile phone service can be bad to nonexistent. That’s why it’s a good idea to pre-arrange a meeting place with your friends if you plan to split up to see bands on different stages. It’s also a good way to preserve precious phone battery life.
9. Pack Lightly, but Smartly
There’s no need to bring a ton of stuff with you, but there are a few things you will be thankful to have.
- Bug spray: You may be in the desert, but there are still bugs.
- Comfortable shoes: Don’t wear flip-flops or super uncomfortable shoes, no matter how great they look. Lightweight, breathable shoes that are easy to take on and off are ideal.
- Cash: Not everywhere at the festival takes cards or cashless payment, so it’s best to bring cash to avoid long ATM lines or not being able to pay. Just keep it safe!
- Earplugs: It’s best not to lose your hearing or end up shouting “What?” at people for days after the festival.
- Poncho: You can buy a cheap, disposable poncho that will come in handy if it rains.
10. Follow the Rules
Yes, food and alcohol at Coachella are expensive. If you are camping on-site, the good news is you can bring food and drink with you in your vehicle (other than glass bottles) and save a lot of money by eating most of your meals there. However, you are not allowed to bring alcohol into the festival itself. You will be searched, and alcohol and drugs will be confiscated, so it’s best to save your substance consumption for outside the festival itself.