Packing for a festival can be stressful, especially if it’s overnight. There are so many small details to remember, and with limited space in your bag it can be hard to decide what should stay and what should go…
Speaking from personal experience, I can think of few worse feelings than when you finally arrive and settle into a festival, just to realize you left behind something important. Your weekend is thrown off balance; and it’s never good to start festival weekend on the wrong foot. So, I’ve compiled a comprehensive list of often forgotten essentials in hopes that it will help you (and my future self) not make those avoidable mistakes again.
Portable Phone Charger
We’ve all experienced a phone losing battery suspiciously quickly at a festival. While for maximum enjoyment, I recommend not being on your phone much at all during the festival, having your phone charged is important in case you get separated from your festival group at any point, especially if the festival is at a location you’re not familiar with, not to mention in case of an emergency. Keeping a (charged) portable charger in your day pack is an easy way to keep your phone fully charged and ready for whatever the task at hand may be.
For the most part, festival season takes place in the spring/summer months. Depending on the location, this can mean direct sunlight — LOTS of direct sunlight. The only thing that could be worse than forgetting something would be to get a gnarly sunburn on the first day, making the rest of your weekend miserable, painful, and uncomfortable. Keep extra sunscreen with you, and if you’re as pale as I am, don’t forget to apply multiple times throughout the day.
This may seem like an obvious one, but from my experience, people tend to prefer bringing credit/debit cards to festivals. My advice— bring both, but opt for cash. It saves time; so instead of waiting for a credit card machine to read your card, sign, and tip (while you’re missing your favorite band open their set in the distance…definitely not a personal experience…) you can easily pull out your cash and continue on your way.
This one seems obvious as well, but I can’t tell you how many times I forget them. The sun is bright; protect your eyes and bring your sunglasses.
Refillable Water Bottle
So you don’t waste money on the water they sell on site! They will charge you as much as humanly possible for a single bottle of water on the grounds, not to mention if you buy plastic bottles, you risk accidentally littering on the festival grounds. Regardless if you litter or not, if you buy plastic water bottles you’re contributing to the massive issue of plastic waste our planet already faces! Do your part to save the environment; bring a reusable water bottle.
For those of us with longer hair, these are ESSENTIAL. For a summertime festival (especially if it’s in the south), long hair turns your head into an oven, collecting and absorbing all the heat the sun has to offer. Keep yourself cool by keeping your hair off the back of your neck, and out of the way. Heat aside, if you’re planning on attempting to squeeze your way through the mass of sweaty bodies to get to the front of any show, having your hair down is pretty much equivalent to what Edna (from The Incredibles) says about superhero capes. If you don’t get that reference, watch the movie and thank me later.
And as a planet lover bonus you can get the awesome biodegradable ones because how many times do you just lose these things, right?
Travel-Sized Toilet Paper
Yes, most festivals now-days have nicer port-a-potty restrooms with toilet paper, so you don’t have to suffer the reality of relieving yourself in a giant, disgusting hole anymore. HOWEVER, this does not mean the toilet paper won’t run out in the first few hours. Plus, you don’t know what kind of germs are on the toilet paper in those restrooms. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather clean myself with toilet paper that’s been touched by me, and only me. Travel sized toilet paper is compact, and easy to throw into your festival day pack; so why not bring it along?
Travel-Sized Body Wash
There is nothing nastier than the feeling of sleeping in other people’s sweat and dirt picked up from a long festival day. If you want to start each day feeling at least somewhat refreshed, definitely don’t forget a little body wash. Some people would argue that the dirt and grime of festivals is part of the fun and experience, so for that reason I’m going to make this an optional-often-forgotten item. I for one, would not want to camp at a festival without it, but the choice is always yours!
I feel like these are often forgotten because …why would you need a swimsuit at a music festival? While packing clothing for a festival, you probably rarely consider bringing one. However, piggy-backing off my last point: if you plan on keeping yourself somewhat clean, you will definitely want to consider packing a swimsuit. Typically at camping festivals, the showers are communal. You, and the people around you, will likely feel much more comfortable if you bring a swimsuit along. Unless, of course, you are totally comfortable with public nudity, in which case— more power to you, way to be fearless.
Advil / Tylenol / Your Pain Reliever of Choice
This is at the top of the list for me, which makes its placement on this list rather ironic. My intentions, however, are simply to emphasize the importance of this item. I get headaches somewhat frequently anyway, so adding days full of sun, alcohol, loud noises, and low water consumption is pretty much a formula for a weekend-long, killer headache. Having these on hand is necessary to ensure that your weekend stays full of fun, happiness, escape, and every other wonderful thing that a festival should be. (Take these in a healthy manner of course, plenty of water and on a full stomach, and probably avoid alcohol. I’m no doctor so please do not take this as professional medical advice)
All of these, combined with the items on our Ultimate Music Festival Packing List, should ensure that you are fully prepared to take on any festival. Don’t risk forgetting something that could throw your whole weekend off balance! A festival is a time for vacation, being surrounded by like-minded individuals, creativity, freedom, and ultimate pleasure. Prepare accordingly so you can allow yourself to experience all that you are hoping to and more.