I’ve been going to festivals for over ten years now. That’s a lot of walking through mud, jumping around, spending nights in tiny tents and having one too many warm beers. And I still love it. (Despite swearing in a hundreds-deep queue for the entrance with a heavy backpack on that I’m never ever camping again).
In that time, I’ve picked up quite a few festival tips that go beyond the basic ‘take some loo roll, drink plenty of water’ insights that any first-time festival-goer will definitely pick up pretty quickly. Time to read my top ten ways of not just surviving a camping festival, but having the easiest and most comfortable experience possible. Because comfort is totally the new rock and roll.
1 | Look after your feet
Because they’ll be doing a LOT of walking and standing up and dancing about. They may also be subject to a lot of mud, puddles and being stamped all over by beer-fuelled dudes running to get to the front for Limp Bizkit. So unless it’s a scorcher and hasn’t rained at all for weeks, thin canvas shoes probably won’t cut the mustard.
I always swear by my Doc Marten boots for a festival (make sure you break in your new DMs first though – and have plasters and thick socks on hand), but a pair of solid wellies will do the trick just as well. Again though, thick socks are definitely order of the day. I also always take a pair of trainers for campsite chilling too, to give my feet a little bit of a rest from traipsing around in chunky boots.
2 | Be good to future you
Trust me, when you’re waking up to sunlight pouring into your tent (or, alternatively, when its’ freezing cold and you never want to leave your sleeping bag), you’ll appreciate that bottle of water or can of coke you grabbed last night more than ANYTHING in life.
3 | Bin bags are amazing
And not just for making sure your campsite doesn’t look like an explosion at a landfill site by Saturday morning. Oh no, the humble black bin bag comes in plenty handy. Whether it’s for seperating your dirty clothes (very handy when you take five pairs of identical black pants and gag at the idea of the ‘sniff test’), muddy boots, a makeshift poncho or perching your bum on when the floor’s damp, take a roll of them along with you and you won’t regret it. And you’ll make lots of friends wanting to steal one too.
4 | Save some clean and comfy clothes for the journey home
Seriously, when you jump aboard a train full of non-festival folk dressed in their suits with good hair, you’ll suddenly become VERY aware that you’re emitting that very specific odour made up primarily of fields, sweaty bearded men and portaloos. So take some comfy, clean clothes wrapped up in a plastic bag ready to change into once you’re offsite. You’ll thank me for it, and so will everyone else on public transport.
5 | Get to the front with minimal effort
The easiest way to get closer to your fave bands in a festival crowd? Head to one of the sides of the stage. Particularly the side furthest from the entrance – crowds tend to congregate in the middle, but you can grab yourself a pretty epic view by being a bit sneaky and not having to fight your way through a moshpit. See also: looking slightly lost and sad while calling out a pretend mate’s name and peering around pensively.
6 | Create a DIY pillow
I’m totally an advocate of comfort when camping. I wouldn’t be seen dead rocking up to a festival without an airbed in tow, and have even considered buying a full on camp bed (then realised they’d be hella heavy and the only thing I like less than being uncomfy when I sleep is carrying hella heavy things).
However, one thing I never bother to pack any more is a pillow. I just use the bag from my sleeping bag, shove all my clothes into it, and ta-da! Instant DIY pillow with things you’d have in your bag anyway. Which means more room for gin. *thumbs up emoji*
7 | Keep your loo roll dry
Yep, TAKE LOO ROLL is one of the first things you learn when you Google ‘basic festival tips’ (probably, I haven’t actually Googled it). BUT, what if your precious portaloo paper gets wet? And where do you put it when you’re walking around? The answer: Sandwich bags. Y’know, those plastic ziplock ones? Just pop your loo roll in there. You can also tear some off and put it into another bag, to fit in your daytime arena bag.
8 | Prepare for where you’re off to
Despite being a bit of a festival ‘veteran’, this year I actually went to my first European festival, Groezrock. It was brilliant, although I was woefully under prepared, particularly for the journey home. So if you’re heading abroad make sure you get your plans sorted in advance (including working out exactly how to get home and allowing lots of extra time for it), making sure your phone and bank card are set up to work abroad if you need them, and learning a few useful phrases in the local language. E.g: ‘where is the bus station’, ‘is there a camping shop here’, ‘what’s your cheapest beer’….
9 | Keep warm at night
Whether you’ve got a roll mat or an airbed, the floor is one of the main sources of cold when it comes to sleepytime. To create a barrier between the cold and your bed for the night, pop a foil blanket (like this) between the bottom of your tent and your mat/airbed. It’ll help keep your body heat in and the cold out!
10 | Get yourself a portable charger
When I first started out going to festivals, I always used to take along a cheapy phone (RIP Nokia 3310) that would last for DAYS on one charge to festivals. But now, I like to share a bit of the weekend with friends and family back home – and love seeing posts from others at the festival too.
Now, I’m all for putting your phone down and taking in the bands, and try and spend limited time on my phone – but with most festivals providing apps with helpful info, having a smartphone with charge is generally a pretty useful thing. How else will you find out that your fave band are doing a secret set? One of my best investments (for day-to-day life as well as festivals) was a portable charger – I get around 3-4 charges out of this one, and it’s small enough just to throw in my backpack. Much cheaper and more convenient than using the charging tents every night.
Just don’t forget to charge it before you leave…
What are your top festival tips? Share them on Twitter using #UltimateFestivalHacks for the chance to be featured in the Maximise Ultimate Festival Survival Guide!
*post written in collaboration with Maximise – but all tips I’ve definitely learnt the hard way all on my own…