3. DRY ICE! Several grocers in the my town sell dry ice, so you will need to check locations close to where the festival takes place. The trick to dry ice is to pack it correctly. To do that, you will need to do the following: put the dry ice in bottom of an ice chest, then put a towel or two on top of dry ice (important), put a layer of ice on the bottom (above the towels) and allow it to freeze over then put a little more ice, then the items in your cooler.
It’s hard to tell you how much dry ice you’ll need because it depends on how big your cooler is and if it actually shuts properly. It’s a hit or miss situation. Sometimes your items will get frozen at the bottom so I suggest putting cans or plastic bottles toward the bottom so you can pry them out if need be. Take a knife or screw driver of sorts in case you need to pick at the ice, and worst case scenario is you have to shotgun a beer or two. If you get it correct you should only need to buy ice 1-2 times during the weekend, or maybe not at all dependent on weather and shade.
4. Water containers. Staying hydrated is the key to a successful festival experience! Purchase a Nalgene bottle or similar container. Last summer I purchased a Gription wide mouth lid for my Nalgene. It’s great for two reasons. First, it attaches to my backpack because of the design (normal Nalgene lids tend to stretch when on a carabiner). Second, it locks and seals shut so it’s pretty hard to lose water while walking the festival grounds. Purchase a CamelBak or similar hydration pack that can also work for storage. That way, you can try and sneak in some granola bars and fruit to last you at the concert grounds so you don’t spend too much money on food inside. Don’t forget to get an extra bite valve for the hydration system (mine have broken on site on more than one occasion).
5. Sunblock & the Misty Mate. This is a must! Don’t skimp. I know you want to work on your tan but be smart about it. Don’t go and get burnt the first day to ruin your entire festival experience. I recommend Bullfrog. Bullfrog is water and sweat proof. Purchase another lotion for your face. And don’t forget to take some aloe vera just in case!
The Misty Mate is awesome, don’t ask…just get one. You can thank me later.
6. Hat/Visor/Handkerchief/Sunglasses. You will need these items to help combat the heat and look fashionable at the same time. I sometimes wear ski goggles because they protect your eyes from the sun and the dust. Plus, they are awesome to dance in during the late night shows. Sometimes you’ll need to use the handkerchief to put around your mouth to combat the dust as well. Take some cheap but fun sunglasses. I know I wouldn’t like losing my Maui Jim’s because I had a little too much fun dancing.
7. Well ventilated tent. Make sure you open your tent windows at night to ventilate and during the day while at your site. You can also purchase some small battery-operated fans to put inside of said tent. These can usually help you get another hour or two of sleep… if you’re lucky. Don’t forget to put a tarp under your tent to help with water leakage. Make sure to waterproof your tent as well.
8. At least two canopies, three if you have the ability to pack them in your vehicle. These usually are 10’x10’ in size and E-Z UP tend to be the standard. If you plan on going to festivals or tailgating at sporting events don’t buy the cheap kind. These are investments and can be used for years.
The key to a good campsite is being able to provide the maximum shade space. Think about where you’re setting up the canopy in relation to the way the sun rises and sets. Perhaps you can use the canopy to act as a shade for your tent in the morning? Perhaps you can run a tarp off the side. Canopies can also be a great way to provide protection for your tent and your gear during potential downpours.
9. Purchase a good cooler or three! Another item you can’t really skimp on. If you plan on having a cookout or going to the lake a good cooler can come in handy. A festival situation is no different.
10. Bring food that you can cook quickly or that won’t spoil in one to two days. If you bring meat (burgers, steak, etc.) make sure to cook it within the first day or two. Bring other items that can be prepared quickly. I usually bring tuna/chicken salad and it’s a great way for packing a sandwich on the go.
Also, bring good breakfast food. Bacon, eggs and OJ help get you going in the morning. I usually do breakfast burritos, salsa at a campsite is imperative. Bring plenty of snack foods: fruits, chips/dip, Chex mix, trail mix, granola bars, etc. Sandwiches are also a quick and inexpensive choice. PB & Jelly and other condiments don’t really spoil. Bring canned and plastic beverages/food containers only as some festivals will confiscate alcohol and other items that are in glass containers (security took away my grape jelly one year – so make sure to get the squeeze bottle).
12. Plenty of clothes. Bring your bathing suit for bathing/relaxing. Shorts and jeans, long sleeved and short sleeved shirts, hoodies, rain gear (Emergency Poncho), boots, sandals, crappy tennis shoes you don’t care what happens to. You know the Crocs everyone wears now? Well, Bonnaroo 2004 is where they became popular. This is the equation I would use to illustrate my point:
Music Festival (Rain + Sandals) = No more sandals.
Get it? Also, don’t leave your Crocs in your car all weekend. Mine shrunk from being in the hot car. I think a five year old boy can fit into them now.
13. Plenty of cash. The ATM lines are horrendous.
14. Cell phone charger (plug and car). A lot of festivals have a place you can go charge your phone up but you usually have to wait in line. Charge it with your car charger – but make sure to turn off your car after use. I’m finding that phone calls are getting easier each year at festivals — Big Cypress was a nightmare, I had to stand on top of a mini-van just to get a signal.
15. Cooking utensils. Skillet(s), propane stove, propane, forks, knives, spoons, plates, etc. Tupperware and Ziplocs work well to store food as well as clean cutlery. Viva Paper Towels are quite possibly the best invention ever. I purchased a clear storage container to hold all of this kind of stuff in and stored it under my camping table. It keeps your items clean/dry and doubles as additional table space. You should also take a 4 – 6 ft. folding table. Trust me on this. Don’t forget the dish soap to clean your cooking items after use.
16. Towels. For cleaning yourself, your dishes, drying off, etc. You really can’t bring too many.
17. Camping chairs. Get the kind that has a foot rest for the campsite and one with a low back for the festival grounds (if they are allowed). You’ll need them at the end of the day/middle of the day. Portable Hammock are also wonderful devices. Hey, you are on vacation — so take time to relax!
18. Music for your campsite. I always have my iPod and a small set of speakers that run on AA batteries. This is awesome for campsite music as well as in the hotel when you are following your favorite band. Encourage your friends that will be camping with you to bring their own mp3 players and make playlists. Don’t hog the music — this is a great time to expose and be exposed to new music. That’s what a music festival is about, after all.
19. Other essentials. Bring tools (hammer, screw driver, etc) and extra tent stakes. An air mattress is a WONDERFUL addition to your tent. I did it for the first time last year and will always travel with mine from now on. Solar showers are great for cleaning up during the day and in the morning when the pay-as-you-go showers are busy or not available.
Don’t forget your sleeping bag, blanket, and pillow of course! Bring some Tylenol, Benadryl, and other sundry items in case you get ill. Trash bags help everything. Keep your dirty clothes in them. Clean up after yourself and more importantly use them for recycling. Several festivals have really stepped up initiatives to divert tons and tons of recyclables from becoming waste, so do your part and recycle at your campsite. It’s only a matter of separating it, so what have you got to lose?
19. A headlamp, extra toilet paper, baby wipes and hand sanitizer. Petzl is a standard. You can never be too prepared for the port-o-let, who knows what you will find — especially in the dark!
And finally, but most importantly be sure to bring…
20. Fun, laughter, and a good attitude!