10 Foolproof Ways To Survive Your First Music Festival

by Lauren Santye

When the summer months hit, everyone wants to get outside and feel the music.

With the camping music festivals that have been around seemingly forever -- Coachella, Bonnaroo, etc. -- and the new ones emerging every year, the general population has festival fever.

Last year, I went to Firefly in Dover, DE, for the first time and based on my experience, I'd like to share some tips to help you through your first camping festival:

1. When it comes to your feet, don’t think cute, think practical!

When people start planning their trips to festivals, especially girls, a common first thought is what they will wear.

A big chunk of pre-festival time is devoted to finding the cutest outfits, but many forget they are preparing for a camping weekend, not a fashion show.

Shoes, in particular, are one of the biggest things you need to concentrate on. We’ve all heard the importance of choosing comfort over style, but often, that advice goes ignored at festivals.

However, you are on your feet and walking many miles every day, so comfortable and durable shoes are essential. 

2. You are at the mercy of Mother Nature.

Although the weather isn’t always bad, it’s important to be prepared for all conditions, from scorching hot to freezing cold, wind to rain and everything between.

It’s in your best interest to bring ponchos, umbrellas, raincoats, handheld fans, sunglasses, sunscreen, etc.

Even if you don’t end up using any of it, it’s nice to know you have the supplies back at camp if the weather turns ugly.

3. Even the coldest shower can improve a day drastically.

Some festivals provide access to showers for a small fee. Even though the lines can be long and the water freezing cold, they can make a huge difference.

After a long, hot, sweaty and dusty day, there is nothing like feeling clean and refreshed after a shower.

Some advice when it comes to showering at a festival: It is best to go when everyone else is on his or her way to the festival.

At this time, the lines tend to have little to no wait. Another great time to go is during a popular band you might not be as interested in seeing. This way, access to a shower is much easier.

4. Lose the purse and embrace the pockets.

It is common sense to not bring a large, bulky purse into a festival, but when it comes to purses in general, sometimes no purse at all is a better option.

When you want to keep your hands free, a side bag is a great alternative, especially when you’re out at bars.

However, at festivals, the side bag can feel bulky when standing in massive crowds of people.

A great tip is to wear shorts or pants with many pockets so you can fit your phone, money and any other essentials in them comfortably. In doing so, it’s one less thing you have to carry around and one less weird tan line.

5. Remember, it’s an all-day affair.

Camping music festivals definitely take a toll on your body, so doing things to help it out during the day is a great idea.

These festival days are long and filled with drinking, dancing, walking and little sleep, so bringing a little something to give you extra energy isn't a bad idea.

Other things to consider: When sleeping in your tent at night, bring something like a yoga mat or cushion (or for an extra luxurious camping experience, an air mattress) to sleep on.

Also, wear layers for when the temperatures drop (and rise), and bring ear plugs (and even a sleep mask) to improve your sleeping.

6. Leave the valuables at home.

There is a time and a place to bring out your best clothes, shoes and jewelry, but when it comes to camping at a music festival, it's definitely not the place.

It’s best to keep anything you don’t want to get filthy, broken or lost at home. As a general rule of thumb, bring things you won’t necessarily care if they get ruined.

7. Divide up your money for each day.

Don’t bring all of your cash into the festival. Instead, divide up a set amount for each day and keep the rest of it tucked away safe at your campsite.

There are many things on which to spend your money, so don’t blow all your cash on the first day, thereby forcing you to rough it for the rest of the festival.

8. Stick together.

Festivals can be overwhelming with the high volumes of people and spotty cell phone service.

A good way to stick with your group is to have clever ways for each member to be able spot the group from a distance (i.e. wearing the same color shirts, carrying signs, large flowers, etc.).

If this idea isn’t for you, a good alternative is to plan designated group meeting spots in case someone gets separated from the group.

9. Plan, plan, plan.

It’s impossible to see every band playing at the festival, so it’s important to plan out each day and the bands you want to see.

There is a good chance two bands you want to see could be playing at the same time, so choosing which you want to see more is something that will most likely happen.

Many of the stages take a decent amount of time to walk to, so make sure to leave time to get to each performance.

10. Stay hydrated!

Although this one may be obvious, it’s important to stay hydrated the whole time.

This is something many people forget to do because they are preoccupied with the festival and the music.

There is also a lot of drinking that goes on during the festival, which, inevitably, leads to further dehydration. Many festivals have water stations, so bring a water bottle inside the grounds.

If you don’t feel like carrying one, you can buy an inflatable one and have it hook onto your pants with a karabiner.