6 Ways To Make Your Summer Music Festival Experience Better Than Coachella

by Jaime Heenan

Summertime is almost upon us. Or more importantly, festival season is almost upon us.

Those endless, magical days you spend with your favorite people while you dance in the sunshine are nearly here. If you like music, art, fun, laughing, friends, camping and sharing new experiences, you've probably been to a festival or 10.

Those weekends are always such a reprieve from life. Nobody has to worry about work, school, meetings, bedtimes or any adult responsibilities at all. Your only concerns are what to wear (this is important) and having fun.

As a seasoned festival veteran, I would like to extend some friendly advice to you about how to maximize your experiences. I have gotten better at festivaling — yes, it's a verb — over the years.

These days, I have it down to a science. So, I present to you my six tips for the best festival season ever. You're welcome:

1. Sleep.

Seems obvious, right? How can you possibility sustain yourself on a diet of sleep deprivation and vodka Red Bulls? You would be surprised how many people — especially if they're new to the festival scene — skimp out on sleep because they don't want to miss a single thing.

It's understandable: The FOMO game is real. However, your body and your brain will thank you if you get some shut-eye for at least a few hours a night.

If you've ever seen the zombies still dancing at 9 am on the Monday morning after a weekend of partying, you will know you don't want to be a zombie. Sometimes, the early morning sunshine will pound relentlessly into your tent.

It'll get so hot, you won't even be able to breathe, let alone sleep. You can always find somewhere to sleep, though: Trust me.

One time, our tent flooded after a Costa Rican downpour. So, we had to improvise our sleeping arrangements for the rest of the festival. Curling up on a stage behind a drum set isn't the most comfortable thing, let me tell you.

Otherwise, take your blanket into the forest to take a shady nap. It's possible, and it's important. Get acquainted with ear plugs and eye masks, too. They could save the day.

2. Water.

I spent the first few festivals I ever went to barely drinking water. Why drink water when I could drink beer? Those were my 20-year-old self's priorities.

However, I would have to come home from those festivals and have a five-day recovery period. No young person should have to recover for that long. Drinking water will keep everything running smoothly, both during the festival and after.

It will help you avoid headaches, hangovers and irritability. Slam some down whenever you have the chance.

I like to carry a big jug that I make drinks in — sangria is fabulous in the sunshine — and fill it with water before I make another drink. Electrolytes are also important. Bring coconut water, Emergen-C packs or Gatorade to replenish yourself.

Here's a trade secret: Vodka and Gatorade is a great combination, as is rum and coconut water. Hydrate while you dehydrate.

3. Play it safe.

Most festivals should have harm reduction tents. So, if you find yourself tripping out, freaking out, in need of assistance or feeling like garbage and you don't know why, don't be afraid to go ask for help.

You will definitely feel better. Don't forget to check your FOMO at the door: The dance floor will still be rocking upon your return. If you're buying drugs and there's a drug-testing service, get them tested. There's too much scary stuff going on these days to risk it.

Planning on having some sex? Not planning on it? Bring some condoms anyway, just in case.

You never know when a babe who digs your moves could shimmy up next to you. Another great time to use your ear plugs is when you're on the dance floor.

I know it sounds counterproductive, but those sound systems are insanely loud. If you're spending three days planted next to a speaker, it's a good idea to protect those babies. Your ears will thank you.

4. Come prepared.

When I first started going to festivals, my biggest concerns were clothes and booze. (They're the important things, right?)

Anything else was extra. If I needed it, someone else would have it. Now, even though this was often true, as an adult, I realized I like to have my own stuff. Things like a flashlight, sunscreen, baby wipes and some rain boots can really help you out.

I like to pack everything in big totes: They make organizing a breeze. If you have to trek a fair distance from your car to your camp, it can also be handy to bring a dolly or wagon to easily transport your gear.

Yes, someone will have one. But it's infinitely better to bring your own.

I've also found over the years that I don't need to bring that much food. Snacks are important. The potato chips will always get eaten.

But you will likely be having too much fun to eat three times a day (or even proper meals at all). But the food vendors are always open and delicious. Now, I factor those expenses into my festival budget, and I no longer waste all the smokies we were positive we would eat.

5. Pace yourself.

Pacing yourself is a good habit to get into. If you're somewhere for a few days, Thursday night is probably not the best night to let your freak flag fly just yet.

At one of my favorite BC festivals, Shambhala (shout out), Sunday always seems to be the best day. It's the day all the top headliners perform.

I tend to wake up on Sunday mornings feeling like a bag of trash. I'm positive I'm done for the weekend, and I can't even leave the tent.

But as long as I follow the above steps and hydrate, eat and nap, I can always rally and find my groove again. The worst thing ever is sleeping through the biggest night because you've been going too hard all weekend.

Don't let this happen to you.

6. Prepare for the comedown.

Coming back to reality after a few days of magic is tough. Showering is awesome, and nothing beats a cozy bed.

But everything seems a bit out of whack for a few days after a festival. Here are some things I like to incorporate into my post-festival life:

Vitamins: Get a little stock of things that make you feel good. 5HTP helps if you've been doing anything serotonin depleting. Vitamin C and B vitamins are also important to bring to the festivals.

Recovery time is also important. Many people head straight home after a festival. They have to go straight back to work, without having time to decompress.

If you can, take your time. Stop for a dip in the lake on the way home. Sleep for an extra day. Get some veggies in you.

If your boss is cool with it, your bank account can handle it. Even one extra day can be so helpful.

Cuddle if you can. Call your boyfriend, your girlfriend or your cuddle buddy, and get your Netflix and actual chill on. Nothing soothes the post-festival blues like some solid spooning.

So, there you have it: six important steps to help you make the most out of your festival experience. Whether you're embarking on the first festival season of your career or the last, these tips are important to remember.

So buy that ticket, pack that bag and get those dancing shoes ready. I'll see you on the dance floor.