1. Money belt.
Bring a money belt, or as I see it, the “inside fanny pack” or “fanny pack diaper.” Here a guy wears it on the outside to show you how loaded he is, but in reality, this would be tucked into the front of his pants. This is a common (also paranoid) tourist practice in Europe to avoid pickpockets.
2. Dry Shampoo
The gods have spoken and they don’t really care if your hair is dirty. They just don’t want it to look dirty. I’m not sure who invented this heavenly powder, but kudos to them. If you look less gross, you’ll feel less gross.
3. Shower wipes.
A complete necessity if you’re camping out on festival grounds. Chances are, you’re going to start smelling. Quickly. Real showers are a thing of distant dreams, so carry shower wipes with you. Not only will you feign cleanliness, you’ll feel better. And I imagine it’s a good way to make friends (clean your friends!)
4. Or, if you’re fancy, a portable shower.
Portable showers can keep water warm for something like seven hours at a time, some even have plug-in heaters for easy reuse. Not the most practical invention in the universe, portable showers are more commonly used by people on festival tours and the like, but that doesn’t mean campers don’t swear by them.
This guy clearly knows what he’s doing.
5. Portable phone charger.
Because your phone will die.
If you’re camping out, chances are a rechargeable battery powered device (like the one in the first image) won’t help you very much. Luckily we live in a world where double-AA batteries still exist, so bringing those along with you — and a charger powered by the same technology — is a good move.
6. A plastic bag…
…and duct tape…
…to make rain shoes!
Homemade wellies! These are ridiculously easy to make and you won’t have to carry around an extra pair of shoes just in case. You’ll look a little silly, but you’ll have the last laugh.
7. Extra set of clothes.
In case of rain, mud, etc. Especially socks! Wet socks are the effin’ worst.
8. No rompers!
Yes, they’re adorable. Yes, I would wear one everyday for the rest of forever if I could. No, you’re not going to wear one to a festival. Why? Because peeing is hard enough as is, don’t do this to yourself. Do you really want to be naked in a port-a-potty? I didn’t think so.
9. A light jacket.
Even if it’s a billion degrees out, you never A) know if the temperature will drop at night – and if we’re talking about a desert festival, like Coachella or something, it will, B) it could rain, and C) it works as a pillow AND a thing to sit on.
Here’s to you, jacket.
And your many uses. We love you.
10. Shoulder bag.
Shoulder bags (also known as cross-body bags) are ideal for festivals. Backpacks and fanny packs actually worn on the fanny are easy targets for pickpockets. Try grabbing a wallet out of one of these!
11. First aid kit.
It doesn’t have to be too elaborate, but if you manage to trip/cut yourself/bleed everywhere, it’s nice to have your own gauze and bandaids ready. Missing your favorite band because you have to find the first aid tent blows.
12. Waterproof bag.
You hate rain. Rain hates you, too, and it wants to destroy all of your worldly possessions. It wants to stop you from complaining about it on twitter. But rain cannot stop you from buying a waterproof bag. Your iPhone will thank you.
13. LED light keychains.
Because how are you going to pee if you can’t see anything? How are you going to find anything in your money belt? Give them light!
14. Prepare to lose phone service.
Quite often service slows or stops completely. It have something to do with population density and overloaded networks. Plan accordingly: don’t rely on your phone for everything.
…And now for the fun stuff…
Hang out near the radio tents.
No matter what the festival is, bands spend most of their day doing press, hanging out in radio tents and such. Stand there, find temporal love.
Or by the tour buses.
This is subject to the layout of a festival, but I know for a fact traveling tours are super easy to access. Plus, if they can avoid doing press in a tent, they’re on their buses being interviewed and/or playing BioShock/eating hot pockets.
16. Use the buddy system!
It’s obvious. Don’t lose your friends! Especially if they’re the type to engage in illicitactivities. And what if you lose your phone? What if your phone stops working? Do you even have a friend if you can’t text them?
No one wants to be this guy.
17. Befriend a cabbie.
This one took me years to learn. If you’re at a multiple day fest in a city where it’s hard to find a ride, try to befriend a cab driver on your first day and learn of private car services. If you can rent a car, do it. Nothing sucks more than missing part of a festival because you lack the means to get there.
Leaving and arriving early is also an option. It’s not ideal, but hey, at least you’ll be able to get to and from the fest with ease.
18. Use social media!
Most festivals have their own apps that include maps, notes on where to find free things, etc. Download them! If you can, familiarize yourself with it before actually getting to the concert grounds. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and heartache.
19. Follow hashtags.
Even if there is an app available, make sure to follow unofficial guides to your fest (for example, at South by Southwest in Austin, @SXSWfreenoms is very helpful.) Use the fest’s official hashtag — you’ll learn of breaking news in real time.
20. Get to the front.
A simple “excuse me” works!
More often than not, at large festivals, people will line up in front of main stages and squat there all day. If you’re like me, you probably only want to see a few of the acts. Actually pushing your way through a crowd rarely works, but if you say “excuse me,” people will usually make room. THAT EASY! Don’t let the size of the audience intimidate you.
But if that doesn’t work, pretend you lost someone.
For those with loose morals: play the “I lost my sister/friend/brother/mother” card and yell out a random (and common) name. People will get out of your way.
“Where are youuuuuuuuuu Ashley?!?!”
21. Sometimes bands you like will play at the same time.
So get organized!
If two acts you want to see are playing back to back — or worse, at the same time — stay organized! See both: half of two sets is sooooo much better than missing one and regretting it.
22. If staying overnight, know where to put your tent!
Don’t camp by the stage, a walkway, or at the bottom of a hill (in case of rain.)
Because if this happens…
…You don’t want this.
Not sleeping there.
23. And finally: How to pee!
If you’re doing the pee pee dance, you’ve waited too long.
Nothing is more excruciating than needing to pee like a race horse and having to wait in a 20-minute bathroom line. If you’re about to burst, there’s a high probability that you’re not going to make it. Talk about embarrassing!
Know where the port-a-potties are.
Fest-goers typically stay near the most convenient port-a-potties, ignoring the fact that there are many places to relieve yourself—the further away, the shorter the line. And they’re less disgusting come 3pm.
Migrate to the back of the port-a-potty line!
People stay near the front. If you can walk behind the port-a-potties, do it: you’ll save time you would have wasted in line.
Or, if you can, pay for VIP.
If you can’t live without luxury, many fests offer real bathroom accomidations in VIP. It’s expensive, and probably not worth it, but hey. There’s soap and paper towels and other first world luxuries in there.
Or find the kids area.
The bathroom here is usually clean AND completely vacant in the evening (because babies.)