For many of us on the music scene, COVID-19 hit us HARD. Before COVID-19, I was traveling to music festivals all over the country. Music festivals are a huge part of my life and one of the reasons I have fallen in love with travel. Traveling to music festivals has blessed me with learning about myself, meeting new people and exploring new places. However, when I first started attending festivals, there was A LOT I learned the hard way. Whether you are camping at a music festival (this will be a separate post), car camping or staying in a lovely hotel, here are basic tips you should know before you lock on your wristband and pass through those golden gates.

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1. Do not wear your best shoes!

Summerset Music Festival in Somerset, Wisconsin.

I have learned this the HARD way. Now, there are some festivals where you can be indoors-especially winter time. In Minnesota, Snowta NYE Festival is usually indoors at The Armory in Minneapolis. However, the majority of festivals will be outside. Even with good weather, you can count on your shoes feeling their wear and tear in one night. So wearing those new pair of white Nikes or customer made Converse boots? Not the best idea. Also- I highly advise you to not wear sandals and flip flips. 1) Your feet will HURT. 2) You have a great chance of someone literally “stepping on your toes”. 3) If your shoe breaks (this happened to me at Summer Smash in Chicago), chances are you are going barefoot the rest of your time.

2. Read about what you can (and cannot) bring in with you.

Electric Forest in Rothbury, Michigan.

One of the first things I do before I even pack for a festival is read their list of prohibited items. There is nothing worse than waiting in line for…well, awhile, then being told you cannot enter because of something you have on you. A good example of this was one of my friends being forced to toss their bag or bring it back to the car (it was a 20 minute walk back and forth to the car, then having to stand in line again). This was because they only wanted clear bags to be brought into the festival. Most festivals will let you bring in an empty Hydro pack or empty water bottles as they have free fill stations throughout the festival. Some even let you bring small, unopened snacks, your hammock, blanket, etc. It’s also helpful to note if they allow re-entry.

3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

515 Alive in Des Moines, Iowa.

After you figure out what container you can bring in, it’s also helpful to check out the map of the festival and take note of where the water refill stations are. I have been to some festivals that have misting stations as well (HIVE Festival). I have seen one too many people pass out and get taken to the First Aid tent because they were dehydrated. Festival goers who love to ride the rails are especially at risk because there are no air pockets towards the front-everyone packs in like sardines and constantly push forward, making it difficult to break through the crowd to get water. You can also get pedialyte packets to add to your water to maximize hydration (this is my trick!). Always make sure you have a full bottle of water on you and you will survive and thrive!

4. Be prepared for rain, humidity, strong winds, snow…any weather.

Shaky Beats in Atlanta, Georgia.

I’d say always check the weather, but even that is not correct all the time! Plus, some places may be hot and humid during the day but very cold at night (Rolling Loud in California is a good example!). It never hurts to have a cheap poncho in your bag that you can toss (they are $1 at Wal-Mart and can fit anywhere, so it’s not an inconvenience to bring in with you) and a warm hoodie or coat you can were at night time. You can usually rent a locker to keep items you do not want to carry around as well. (Check the website of the festival beforehand!).

5. Whether it’s California, Michigan or New York- bring sunscreen!

515 Alive in Des Moines, Iowa.

Even when you think you do not need it…you do! Because newsflash- that cloudy overcast can still damage your skin! Your skin will thank you once you return home from your festival fun. It can be a good idea to pack some Aloe Vera in your bags to help with post-festival recovery.

If you are looking for recommendations for sunscreen for your face, check out this post: 5 tips for Skin Care While on the Road!

6. For spring, summer and fall festivals…bring some kind of a fan.

Shaky Beats in Atlanta, Georgia.

Whether it’s a small battery-operated fan or a handheld accordion fan (this is my choice!), you will be so thankful for the ability to create your own air flow. Some of my favorite people at festivals are the ones who come up to you and fan you when you feel like you are about to collapse. I learned early on how valuable this can be during summer festivals. Also, some of the accordion fans can be a fun prop to dance with and stylish too!

7. Nourish your body.

Rolling Loud in San Bernardino, California.

Chances are, your body is going to be working REALLY hard. You are going to be walking (maybe) dancing, off routine and possibly outside in the elements. Before I go to a festival, I like to make sure I have a good breakfast or lunch. I also utilize protein bars A LOT not only at festivals, but for when I travel in general. It’s a good idea to figure out what options are available at the festival for food before hand, and even where they are located.

8. Consider bringing your hammock or blanket if allowed.

Electric Forest in Rothbury, Michigan.

This more pertains to larger festivals with no re-entry (especially if you are camping there). If you will be there all day, chances are you will want to take breaks, rest and sit down. Bringing a towel, blanket or something to sit on can be a life saver. If you are at a festival like Electric Forest, don’t be surprised to see hammocks sprawled everywhere as people “camp out” waiting for their favorite artists to take the stage.

9. Your tribe attracts your vibe (and vice versa).

One of the best suggestions I can give you is go with a great group of friends. Of course, you want to go with people you are going to have a memorable time with. There is nothing more exciting then knowing the people you are going with have the same passion for music as you do. But you also want to make sure you are going with people who are reliable, trustworthy and will watch out for you.

10. Have a plan and meeting spot with your tribe.

515 Alive in Des Moines, Iowa.

Let’s face it- whether you want to see different artists performing at the same time or you get caught up in the crowd storming the venue to get to the headliner, your group will get split up. And for some reason, music festival venues aren’t always in a spot where you get the best service. It’s for this reason it can be a good idea to have an idea of who wants to see which artist at which stage, decide on a meeting spot and check in times. I also suggest making sure everyone knows where to meet at the end of the night. Some festival goers get REALLY creative and make a totem to help with this!

Sometimes by the end of the night phones are dead, so it never hurts to bring a portable charger with you.

11. Be smart and safe.

I won’t go through all the things you have probably heard several times (don’t set your drink down, don’t take things from strangers, don’t go anywhere along with strangers, etc. etc.) but I will mentioned I have seen people pick-pocket others at several festivals. I will never forget the last day of Rolling Loud the long line of people at the Lost and Found tent. Most of those people were there because their phone or wallet was missing. With more venues requiring only see through bags for entry, it is easier to figure out how to steal phones. Most of the time, if you wear a backpack, you will not even notice someone unzip it. This is what wearing your back pack in front or a fanny pack in front can be helpful to protect your belongings. Also, try not to bring more money or valuable cards into the venue unless you absolutely need to.

12. Keep an open mind, be polite and embrace the experience!

Music festivals are beautiful because they are a break from the real world. You can dress how you want, make new friends in one night who you will talk to for a life time and get lost in the music. Be present in the moment, be open to trying new things (go discover a new artist!), support artists and small businesses. Most of all, be kind.

Rolling Loud

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Interested in the best skin care products to bring to a festival? Read 5 Skin Care Products to Pack in Your Bag for Your Travels here.

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