Festival SZN
Coachella guide

Everything You Need To Know To Experience Coachella Like A Pro

You’ll feel like a festival veteran with these tips.

by Kristin Corpuz
Originally Published: 
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With festival season in full swing, there’s none more highly anticipated than Coachella. Over two weekends, the desert in Indio, California is filled music, parties, activations, and more, making it a fave for both festival pros and newbs alike.

But with a festival so big, it can be quite difficult to plan everything: how to get there, where to stay, what to do, who to see... That’s where a first-timer’s guide to Coachella comes in clutch, so you can experience the influencers’ paradise like a veteran.

Coachella is ... a place to flex your fashion sense.

The first thing you should know about Coachella is that it’s not only a music festival, but a full experience. In addition to musical sets happening at the festival grounds throughout the weekend, some of the biggest brands in the world — from Kendall Jenner’s 818 Tequila to Revolve — host pop-ups and parties throughout both weekends.

There’s plenty to do in between watching your favorite acts, and Coachella is also a place to flex your fashion sense. If you love getting dressed up, there are tons of opportunities to be adventurous with your wardrobe and beauty looks, like festival queen Vanessa Hudgens.

Below, take a peek at this quick list of all the things you need to think about while planning your dream Coachella experience.

You Have Multiple Options For Getting To Coachella


Flying in for the festival gives you a few options: You can either fly into one of Los Angeles’ many airports and drive to Indio, or take connecting flights into the Palm Springs airport, which is significantly closer to Coachella.

From any of those airports, you have a few options for getting out to the desert. Renting a car gives you a lot of flexibility. You can also take a rideshare or book a car from LA to the festival (Gateway Executive Transportation is a limo service that many LA-based influencers prefer), so it’s up to your preference and whether you’d like to drive.

Valley Music Travel also offers one-way shuttle service to and from LAX and Indio (each direction is sold separately), so that’s an option if you don’t want to drive but also don’t want to worry about booking a car.

If you go with ridesharing, your best bet is to fly into the Palm Springs airport, which is closer to Coachella. However, flights to Palm Springs tend to get very expensive this season to account for the high volume of tourists coming in, and you’ll likely need a connecting flight since it’s a smaller airport.

For a truly bougie experience, Aero offers semi-private chartered jets to fly into Palm Springs starting at $975 one way.

Presley Ann/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Choose A Hotel Or Airbnb That Matches Your Coachella Vibes (& Budget)

There actually aren’t many places to stay in the Coachella Valley area. You’ll find more options in the surrounding towns, including La Quinta, Palm Desert, and Palm Springs, which are about 20 minutes, 25 minutes, and 35 minutes from the festival site, respectively. (Keep in mind that traffic during the festival can get get pretty bad, so those estimated driving times could potentially double.)

These towns have plenty of options for hotels near Coachella, or if you have a big group traveling together, you’ll also likely be able to find house rentals that may be more economical than booking individual rooms.

Palm Springs hotels are known for their luxurious approach to wellness.

Palm Springs hotels are known for their luxurious approach to wellness, coupled with the city’s love of mid-century decor and stunning desert and mountain views. The Ace Hotel & Swim Club is a frequent favorite, especially for young festival-goers. The retro interiors and giant pool make it a fun place to hang out, even when you’re not attending the festival.

For a more upscale, relaxing experience away from the energy of the festival, the Moroccan getaway-inspired Korakia Pensione will make for a beautiful retreat while you recuperate from your festival activities.


If you’re up for a longer drive and want to get out of the central Coachella Valley area, opt to stay in Joshua Tree or its surrounding towns instead. Central Joshua Tree (including Pioneertown) is about an hour away from Coachella, while neighboring town Twentynine Palms clocks in at about an hour and a half.

The Joshua Tree area offers an escape that Angelenos frequently take advantage of, and will give you the full desert experience. Note: Rideshares might be a little harder to book in this area, so this is a better option if you’re planning on renting a car.

For a private retreat for up to four people, book your stay at Arro Dunes in Twentynine Palms. It’s a peaceful getaway that truly feels like you’re in the middle of nowhere, perfect for unplugging after a long day of dancing and walking around the festival.

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Parking Comes With Your Pass, But There Are Other Options As Well

There are a few different avenues you can take for getting to and from Coachella once you’re in the desert. If you are renting a car, it’s pretty easy to drive from your accommodations to the festival. The traffic can be quite heavy, especially as you get closer to the festival site, but it’s a great option if you like the flexibility of having your own mode of transportation.

All festival passes include access to the general parking lot, or you can buy preferred parking access for the whole weekend if you want to be closer to the entrance. Please remember to enjoy the festival responsibly if you choose to drive.

Getting to Coachella is fairly easy (there’s a designated drop-off zone).

Ridesharing is very readily available as well, especially if you’re staying in one of the festival’s surrounding towns. Getting to Coachella is fairly easy (there’s a designated drop-off zone), and getting home is actually pretty seamless as well.

All of the drivers line up in a big waiting area and passengers get in line and call a car; your rideshare app will then give you a code. Once you get to the front of the line and are assigned a car, you give the driver your code and your destination is put into their app — this way, you don’t have to worry about searching for the right car.

Valley Music Travel also offers Any Shuttle passes, which stop at various local hotels in the area and run frequently throughout the day and night to get attendees to and from the festival. Even if your hotel is not on the company’s list, the shuttles will get you much closer so you can walk or rideshare back to your accommodations.

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Remember To Pack The Festival Essentials

Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to bring in any outside food or drink, so keep that in mind when you’re grocery shopping for the weekend. You are, however, allowed to bring in a refillable water bottle, provided that it’s empty upon your arrival (it just has to be 40 ounces or less and can’t be made of metal or glass).

Not being able to bring in your own food just means that you get to enjoy the plethora of food vendors available at the festival — and there are plenty (albeit, it could get expensive).

Karl Walter/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Stands and trucks are scattered throughout the festival grounds so you can grab a quick bite on the go in between acts, but if you want to sit down for a second, stop by the Indio Central Market, which is a huge tent featuring over 15 different restaurants. (The best part is, you get to sit in the shade while you eat.)

For anyone camping at the festival (or don’t have a car and just want to take advantage of it), there’s a free supermarket shuttle that runs from the campgrounds to a nearby grocery store so you can pick up the essentials. This is a great chance to pick up things you forgot to pack as well, like sunscreen.

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Other Coachella packing essentials that TikToker @sheadurazzo suggest you bring in your backpack are:

  • Hydration packs like Liquid I.V.
  • A pack of gum
  • Cheap sunglasses
  • Plenty of lip balm
  • A portable charger
  • A bandana
  • Band-Aids
  • Deodorant

As far as your outfit goes, you’ll also want to bring a sweater to throw on at night when the desert gets chilly, and bring a comfortable pair of shoes to change into since you’ll be doing a lot of walking.

You could always take OOTD pics in your cute shoes at your hotel or Airbnb before changing into your fave pair of sneakers to wear for the rest of the day. Both Dixie and Charli D’Amelio wore their own D’Amelio Footwear shoes to Coachella in 2023, and they passed the no-blister test.

Plan Ahead To Save Money During Coachella

Between festival tickets, flights, lodging, and food and drink, the expenses of going to Coachella can really add up.

A great way to save money during the festival is to go grocery shopping at the beginning of your weekend so you can make breakfast (and maybe even lunch) at home. Most festival days don’t start till around noon, so you can enjoy your food from the comfort of your accommodations. Making breakfast means you only have to buy one meal at the festival. (Pro tip: Keep some leftovers in the fridge for when you get home — you’ll be grateful you did.)

You should also remember that rideshare platforms activate surge charging for the entire weekend, and taking cars everywhere will probably be one of your bigger expenses. If you’re up for driving, renting a car can be the more economical option, especially if you’re in a group and can split the cost. However, gas is always more expensive in California (especially these days). For that reason, opt for a smaller, more fuel-efficient car.

Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

For accommodations, Airbnbs and hotels will probably run you around the same price because everyone inflates their prices for the festival weekend. But the plus side of Airbnbs is that you usually have access to a kitchen, and some even have private pools. If you’re going in a group and want to bunk together, renting out a house can help save you money in the long run, and provide you with more space than you’d get at a hotel.

Now that you’re armed with the basics, it’ll be easy for you to get to and around Coachella. All you need to do is throw on some fringe and glittery eyeshadow, and you’re ready to dance the weekend away.

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