The best way to ensure you enjoy your festival experience is preparation. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get everything that you’re going to need. Just remember that you need to strike a balance between packing ‘everything’ and getting your bags from the car (or public transport) to the camp site.
Pick suitable bags
A sturdy backpack is your safest bet when it comes to carrying your stuff through crowds and across fields. Avoid taking a suitcase because it will be bulky and difficult to carry. And forget anything with wheels – that streamlined bag you whisk around the airport will definitely not cope with trips across grass.
As well as a large backpack, consider taking a small bag that you can carry your stuff in during the day when moving about the festival.
Select suitable sleeping gear
There will be no Brownie points awarded for remembering your tent and sleeping bag. Just be sure to practice putting your tent up before you leave for the festival – struggling to put your tent up in fading daylight is no way to kick off your festival experience.
Pick a self-inflating mattress to make your life easier and to reduce the amount of items you need to carry in. Small camping pillows are a wise choice because they can be scrunched up for carrying and will fluff out for use.
It’s a good idea to invest in sleeping essentials, such as a travel pillow, eye mask and ear plugs for when you want to get some kip. Festivals are notorious for round-the-clock noise, even when the music has finished for the night, and you’ll be surprised by how bright it is inside your tent at 6am.
A wind-up torch is essential for middle-of-the-night bathroom trips and finding your way around the tent in the dark.
Take the right clothes
Festival clothing should be fashionable and fun. Whether you’re more interested in packing hippy chic outfits or fancy dress morph suits, you need to be prepared for all types of weather.
Avoid packing jeans as they are weighty and will be sufficiently miserable to wear in rain and mud. Instead, opt for shorts or skirts with leggings or tights and Wellington boots. Lightweight sporting or hiking trousers are also a great alternative because they are quick-drying and won’t take up much room in your bag.
Steer clear of sandals if you’re planning on getting anywhere near to the stage – your feet will get squashed! Just pack some cheap flip flops for braving the public shower facilities.
Most importantly, don’t forget to take some form of raincoat, poncho, or other rain gear in preparation for the inevitable shower
Cater for your needs
You’re going to need to eat. Decide whether you are going to take your own food or live off of the various burger vans and hot dog stands. Just be prepared to deal with rocketed prices and a questionable diet which may leave you feeling a little groggy.
If you’re planning on cooking, take along a compact and safe camping stove with fuel, a saucepan, and plastic or disposable cutlery, plates and bowls. Tin and bottle openers are the most under-rated essentials you can pack.
Don’t want to brave taking a stove? You can buy boiling water cheaply from stands at the festival for hot drinks and to to cook with (think back to student meals and dry pasta or noodles).
Remember to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated throughout the festival by packing a collapsible bottle which you can re-fill on site.
If you have the room, you might consider taking a disposable barbecue and cooler bag.
Don’t go overboard with the toiletries
Do bring your toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush and deodorant but leave the night creams and aftershaves at home. Pack a small quick dry towel for drying off after showering or being out in the rain as well as wet wipes to clean yourself and your cooking utensils.
Don’t forget sunscreen and bug repellent – your festival experience will be memorable for all the wrong reasons if you have to deal with sunburn and pesky insect bites. Remember to pack any medication you’ll need as well as plasters for blistered feet, headache relief tablets and vitamin tablets to keep you going.
If you have the room…
- Consider flags and signs for making a statement in the crowd or for making your tent easier to find.
- Pack fancy dress items such as accessories, glow sticks and face and body paint.
- Take a book, games and pack of cards to keep you entertained during breaks in the music.
Sam Edwards is a music lover, traveller and blogger. He enjoys sharing his backpacking experiences, tips and travel advice.