With music festival season upon us, it’s impossible to avoid all of the latest magazine articles pushing their top 10 must-have outfits. Who knew you needed 10 different tabloids to show you the best way to wear cut-off shorts? However, what many of the tabloids and fashion magazines lack is an insider’s perspective. Being a Coachella Valley native, I have not only been to the festival once or twice, but I have witnessed firsthand the hilarious mishaps that can happen when you take on Coachella Fest without preparation. So, without further ado, here are my top 15 rules to surviving Coachella:
1. Wear comfortable shoes. I know this seems like an obvious one, but every year, there are people in wedges and tall boots. Sandals are not advised, as your feet will get super dirty, super fast, and that’s certainly not comfortable. Not to mention, it’s no fun getting your toes stepped on or soaked with spilled drinks while you’re trying to enjoy a set. Sneakers are the way to go, my friends.
2. Stay hydrated! Don’t be the idiot that misses out on Kendrick Lamar because you passed out from dehydration in the Sahara tent half an hour before. Coachella Valley is a desert and it’s probably way hotter than you’re used to. Plus, if you’re drinking alcohol, you’re already going to be dehydrated. Same goes if you drank coffee that morning because you thought you might die if you didn’t get some caffeine. You can’t bring water into the festival and it’s overpriced at concessions, but you can bring in an empty bottle and fill it at a fill station. I’d recommend one of the huge SmartWater bottles so you don’t have to fill up as often.
3. A mini backpack beats purses any day. Sure, a cross-body bag is cute, but after a few hours, your shoulder will be screaming with pain and you may resent yourself. A bigger backpack is fine comfort-wise, but it will get in the way, and someone behind you at a concert might get more than a little annoyed if you keep hitting them with it. Fanny packs are great, but you can’t fit a water bottle in them, so be warned.
4. Keep your phone in your bag, at least for most of the concert. One or two snaps of your favorite band is enough to make your friends jealous, but more than a few is A) simply obnoxious and B) distracting you from the actual concert. You may think you’re going to go back and watch all those cool videos you took, but trust me, you’re not.
5. Eye drops are a godsend and everyone should have them. You will wake up in the morning and feel as if you’ve died and been resurrected — your eyes will be tired. You can always count on that nice desert dust to be swirling around. So hydrating eye drops works wonders.
6 Speaking of dust, bandanas are necessary! You may think it doesn’t go with your outfit, but by the end of the day, when you’ve swallowed ten pounds worth of sand, you won’t care. You can get some nasty lung infections if you breathe in too much of the stuff floating around there (I know from experience), so it’s good to be cautious. It’s an added bonus that you use whatever you brought to sit on in case you feel like chilling on the grass for awhile.
7. Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen! You may not get the darkest tan you were hoping for if you wear it, but you will absolutely get the worst sunburn of your life if you don’t. Make sure to reapply every few hours. Keep in mind the spray kinds are not allowed on the festival grounds, so make sure you buy the lotion.
8. You may (almost certainly) find yourselves with nosebleeds in the morning. You aren’t dying, but the dust and the dry air really catches up to you fast if you aren’t used to it. It’s dorky, but a saline nasal spray when you wake up and when you go to bed (if you can remember) works miracles.
9. The best way to get up front for your favorite band is to slowly work your way up close during the shows before it and then sneak your way to the front when people are filing out at the end of the first set. Hit up the concerts before your most anticipated ones. You might actually find a new band you like.
10. If you have a ticket but don’t actually know many of the bands that are going, check out the lists of the most anticipated Coachella performances on sites like Rolling Stones and Pitchfork. They tend to know who’s going to be the most entertaining and who all the soon-to-be-really-popular-but-aren’t-yet artists are. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing the 1975 before they were the 1975.
11. Sometimes it’s fun to pop into a tent when you have no idea who’s playing, if you have time to kill. Some of the best concerts I’ve seen were smaller ones I just stumbled upon.
12. The lemonade is killer. (The stuff with half a lemon in it.) You’ll know what I’m talking about.
13. The food is ridiculously expensive, but it’s also some of the best food you’ll eat all year, so be prepared. I still dream about that mac n’ cheese-stuffed grilled cheese.
14. When you need some food outside of the festival, don’t just gravitate toward the fast food chains you eat at all the time. Try out some of the local restaurants and coffee shops. The Fresh Juice Bar will change your life, and their berry bowl aesthetic is on point. IW Coffee has killer muffins and a coffee sign that all the locals have taken pictures in front of already, but will nevertheless look great on your instagram.
15. Last but not least, it is totally okay to go to a concert by yourself if the rest of your squad doesn’t want to see the same band as you. One of the best concerts I’ve been to was by myself. It’s actually a cool experience to be alone for a concert or two and socialize with the people around you. You can meet up with everyone later, and it’s so much easier to get to the front when you’re alone.