Coachella Music & Arts Festival: Survival Guide

Our host, Jonathan Joseph had the opportunity last year head over to Palm Springs, California to join in the festivities for the first week of the “Coachella Music & Art Festival”. With each passing year, Coachella continues to grow and creating a stronger presence in the music industry every passing year. For those who are planning to take the plunge into the wild and crazy world that is Coachella, here’s a helpful guideline of the things you need to do to prepare yourself for the wildest time of your lives!

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Getting There:

Flights/Renting Cars:

Looking for a flight to California? Our recommendation is to fly down to Indio’s closest airport in Palm Springs International. It will be closer and more convenient to relax a little more on your trip to Coachella. For those looking to save a few extra dollars, it is very common to land at LAX, rent a car and make the 146-mile trek to the festival. You’ll end up saving some money, but remember after a wild three-day weekend, the drive back will not be a fun one – given that you’d possibly be exhausted from all the partying.

Be sure to check out flight deal websites like Skyscanner or Google Flights for the lowest possible flight fares. If you’re looking to rent a car, I highly recommend Avis or Budget who usually offer discount prices on cars for the festival.

Shuttle Service:

When you’re in Indio, the shuttle services is your best bet to getting to the festival grounds. The buses are scheduled to pick up people as frequent as every 30 minutes to take you directly between the designated pickup spot to the festival grounds. It will save you time, money, and no need for any designated drivers. Details on the shuttle service can be found here

Driving:

If you aren’t staying on the Coachella grounds or you don’t have a shuttle pass, you most likely will be driving your car to the festival grounds. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend it because of you’ll have to deal with the multiple lines to get in and out the festival and parking.

Taxis:

If you need to get from point “A” to point “B”, taxis might be your best bet. They might not be most cost effective, but if you’re looking to move around quickly, the cabbies around Indio got your back. Coachella offer a list of authorized cab franchises, so be sure to add their phone numbers to your phone, in case you’re in dire need of a one.

  • American Cab: 760-322-4444
  • The Desert Yellow Cab: 760-340-8294 (TAXI)
  • Desert City Cab: 760-328-3000

If you end up hopping in one, be sure to ask them their wild cab stories – many of them tend to pick up celebrities like my driver who picked up Tommy Lee (of Motley Crue)

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Where to Stay?

On-Site Stay:

One of the options available at Coachella is camping on the festival grounds. After talking to some on-site campers, many of them highly recommend staying on the grounds because of the unique and convenient experiences the campgrounds allow them to have. Campers will have quick access into the grounds directly from their site. There are on-site showers and bathrooms to get you cleaned up and ready for the festivities. For more information, check it out here.

Off-Site Stay:

There are many places to stay outside of the Coachella grounds. The first option can be a hotel, which will be with nice provisions, like Wi-Fi, and you’ll definitely be living comfortably. Many of the hotels have access to the shuttle service provided by Coachella, so no worries on transportation, there will always be around the corner. If you need to start booking, do it sooner than later..actually just stop everything and do it now. You can check out the Coachella hotel packages here or try your luck on hotel booking websites like Travelocity, Expedia or Hotels.com.

For those planning ahead of time, Airbnb is another great option. You can get full rentals on homes as low as $400 per night and can accommodate 5-7 of your friends, which can possibly work out to $130+ per night if you get the right group. For more information about Airbnb rentals, check it out here.

Tips for an enjoyable trip:

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Get there early:

You should try to settle into the city or campgrounds by mid-day Thursday, this will help you adjust, rest and you won’t have to worry about the traffic getting into town. From what I was told, the lineup into the campgrounds are massive, due to the security checks and procedures they need to do. From my experience, since we booked through Airbnb, we were able to settle in on the Thursday before the festival started. It helped us get ready, pick up our beers, buy our food and plan for next day festival activities.

Hygiene:

It’s incredibly hot in Indio. No matter how much you try to avoid the sun, you will be sweaty within a couple hours. If you’re not staying in a hotel, hit up those campground showers and do yourself (and everyone else) a favour and get washed up.

Get some sleep:

Being out in the sun can take it’s toll, lessons were learnt after all partying I did, but sleep is very important. Try to at least get 5-6 hours of sleep per night, so you can feel re-energized to party.

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Eat early and well:

Within Coachella, breakfast is the most important meal. If you want to make the most of the festival, most likely you’ll need to be eating well and heavy early in the morning so you can enjoy various performances between lunch and dinner hours, which tends to be when a lot of the major performances happen.

Many people eat light during mid-day and night, while eating heavy earlier in the morning. If you decide to get food on the festival grounds, the line-up can be surprisingly long and a bit pricey. All the food vendors at Coachella take ‘cash only’, so if your strapped for cash, you can drop by an ATM machine, but get ready to pay some premium service charges.

Get organized:

Be ready to have scheduling conflicts – most likely you will miss some performances you’ll wish you had seen, but if you get ready and plan ahead, you will probably significantly cut down on these missed events. To help with this, be sure to download the Coachella app on your phones (available on iPhones and Android devices). This will help you organize yourself, share line-ups with your friends and much more.

Don’t be afraid to break your plan:

This might be a tad hypocritical, but even after planning and organizing all the events you want to see – things might not work exactly as you imagined. Don’t be scared to break away from the plan and do something else. The festival is about discovery and being on an adventure, it isn’t meant to end up being like a school schedule. If you’re passing by a band and they catch your attention, join the crowd and enjoying the music

Charging your phone:

In age of Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and WhatsApp, your phone’s battery is going to deplete very fast. To take pictures and videos, it uses data and power which in turn can have you at low battery before you even realize it.

My suggestion is to consider purchasing or picking up a portable charger. For the situations that require it, you have a charger on-hand. If that doesn’t work for you, there are mobile charging stations setup across the grounds. Use them as often as you can, but keep in mind that there are a lot of people at Coachella who also like to charge their phones.

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Stay hydrated:

Water, water, water, water! Seriously, it will be on your mind the entire time you’re at the festival. Because the temperatures get so high, stay hydrated. From my experience, there were numerous cases of people passing out from being dehydrated.

A helpful tip would be to pack empty water bottles (3-4) and fill it up at the water stations before entering the concert zones.

Do not over-drink:

With the high temperatures, alcohol tends to make you dehydrate faster. With that in mind, you’re more likely to feel tired, hungover, and feeling crappy if you start your day with some alcohol. Your best bet is to start drinking by the afternoon when the weather starts to cool down.

Prepare for misfortune:

Bad things happen, so be prepared. Make sure your name, e-mail address and phone number are in your wallet, phone and camera. Hopefully, a good Samaritan is kind enough to return any missing items. Be prepared to get lost or split from your group, if that happens make a game plan before-hand, so they know where to meet or how to get a hold of you. Try to either pick a unique spot like “in front of the at Heineken House”  or “underneath the yellow line banner” (it will make sense for those who are there).

Openness and attitude:

Coachella is a hub of travelers internationally and across the states. Everyone is there to enjoy the music and share in the experience. Take in the good vibes, flow with the music, try to check out bands and artists that you may have never seen before. Be adventurous and be open to the bigger world of music.

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Be more social, and less “social networking”:

Due to the poor signal range at Coachella, a lot of the time your phone will have very little signal. Try not to waste your time taking videos and pictures on a consistent basis. Concert always are more enjoyable when you’re full attention is on the performance, so try to avoid taking multiple videos on Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook – just simply enjoy the shows.

If you can’t resist – a helpful tip was I took Snapchats while my phone was on airplane mode and uploaded it when I got back home. Not only did this help me save my battery life, but pay more attention to the concert.

Don’t disturb the ‘celebrities’:

I think it’s obviously to say that everyone attending Coachella is there to enjoy the music while taking in the California sunshine. Just like you and me, many celebrities also like to make that trek to join in the festival fun. If you’re looking, you will see a lot of celebrities walking about the festival grounds.

As an unwritten rule, you don’t bug the celebrities (even if it’s Rihanna standing in front of you) while on the festival grounds. Try to avoid the typical ‘selfie requests’, intense conversations, work inquiries, etc because at the end of the day, they want to just enjoy the music with their family and friends, which should be respected. There is a time and a place where it might be appropriate (i.e. Coachella after-parties, Wal-Mart, etc), but use your discretion and read the situation.

What to pack:

The following items might or might not be necessary items for you in particular, but they definitely will help improve your experience significantly. Bring a backpack for the essential items, while the others can be kept at your hotel or locker, when you think you might need it.

  • Comfortable Shoes: since you’re walking around everywhere, be sure to pack some comfortable shoes (no heels, ladies)
  • Walkie Talkies: think about it – bunch of friends on walkie talkies? Come up with some cool nicknames and let the fun begin.
  • Shorts
  • Extra socks: just in case, there is rain. Extra socks will save you from having smelly feet.
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Coachella Wristbands
  • Sunscreen (spray-on): spray is quicker and easier to use.
  • Deodorant (spray-on)
  • Sweater: when the night comes, it will get cold, so be sure to pack something warm.
  • Earplugs: after a full day of speakers pounding in your ear, earplugs will help soften the blows from the bass drops.
  • Chapstick: it gets dry out there and you’re lips need to be hydrated.
  • Gum
  • Wet Wipes: whether it’s after you use the bathroom or after you finish your meal. This, my friend, is a lifesaver.
  • Bandana: it will protect your face from the sandstorms that pick up during the day.

 

Pro-Tips:

  • For those out of town, you definitely have to check it out “In-N-Out Burgers”.
  • Be sure to check out the daytime pool parties and after-parties like the Lacoste Pool Party, Neon Carnival and H&M Coachella Party – you will not be disappointed.
  • If you’re looking to take an afternoon nap, don’t do it in front of everyone. Seriously, you’ll end up on Instagram with hilarious hashtags.
  • Do not wear black. Seriously, it’s just not a good idea. You will be hating yourself.

 

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Photos were taken by Jonathan Joseph

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