10 festival hacks

If you’ve ever been to a festival and wished for a way to make life easier, a few cheats and short cuts or the best way to make the most of your experience, you’re not alone. We went to Coachella in the Californian desert and learned from our own mistakes (combined with a bit of advance research and personal experience, of course). We present our top festival hacks…

26 May 2016


1. Hire a locker

Most of the big festivals have lockers you can hire for the weekend and we strongly advocate them. Interestingly, though, despite the fact we took a lot of tech and gadgets with us, we found everything light and compact enough to keep on us all day. However, our locker (we got one big one to share) cost about $80 between us for the whole three days and was great for storing extra clothes and boots for when the sun went down. It also doubled as a meeting point. Make sure you book in advance as they sell out.

Tip: Take a photo of your locker number and location, and also the code if you’ve got a combination lock. If there’s a choice, pick a combination lock as you won’t have keys to either share – or lose!

2. Rent off-site accommodation

If it’s within your budget and you don’t feel you’re missing out on the camping experience, we’d recommend staying somewhere a bit further out. Not only will you have proper washing facilities, you’ll also have somewhere comfortable, warm and clean to sleep. And like us, if you travel somewhere warm for a festival and you club together and rent a villa, you might be lucky and get a private pool thrown in. There’s also likely to be good WiFi. We were also able to keep food and alcohol costs down by doing a grocery shop, and eating before we headed to the site.


3. Take the shuttle bus

Many festivals operate shuttle bus services to get you to the site easily. Sometimes, the service is free to ticket holders. What’s great about the shuttle buses is that they generally take you closer to the entrance than if you drive and park in one of the designated car parks. Festivals are sprawling events and the walk to the main arena can often be a long one so anything that cuts that trek, especially if you’re on your feet for most of the day, is a godsend. At Coachella, there were also pedi cabs which you could hire to take you from main arena to shuttle bus pick up.

4. Take warm layers

It might be lovely and warm during the day but even in California when the sun goes down, so can the temperatures – Coachella takes place in April. In the UK, that’s even truer, and you can also often bank on rain so warm socks, a rain jacket and a pair of tights can go a long way. You can also use a pac-a-mac as something to sit on.


5. Extra power

It’s gutting when you lose charge in your phone. You’re no longer able to take pictures and videos, and you’re also no longer able to contact friends if you lose one another. Take an extra battery with you if you’re relying on your camera and definitely take a portable charger, like a Mophie Powerstation, for your phone. A lot of festivals provide charging stations but the queues can be massive.


6. Activate mobile payments

Some festivals now accept mobile payments so it’s a good idea to download and set up the iPhone or Android payment services before you go as you won’t have to muck about with cash, cards, wallets and purses. It’s faster and easier.


7. Set a meeting place

If all else fails and you do lose your friends, setting a meeting place is a good idea. WE WISH WE’D DONE THIS. Yes, it happened to us. In hindsight, we would have picked the big yellow art installation in the middle of the arena as our meeting spot of choice…


8. Walkie talkies

On the Coachella YES list for permitted tech, these are a great way for staying in touch with your friends without incurring roaming charges on your phone (if you’re abroad). Plus, they’re lots of fun. Once, at Reading Festival, we picked up the security channel… oops!

Check out the Binatone walkie talkies.


9. Emergency loo roll

Some festivals are better supplied than others but you don’t want to be caught short. Keep some folded up in your pocket or bag and use it sparingly when you need to! Some wet wipes are also a good idea.


10. Download the festival app

Keep on top of line-up changes and stage times with the official app and to help plan your festival, plus it pays to keep an eye on the internet for rumours of secret sets and special guest appearances. You don’t want to be the only one that missed Rihanna at Calvin Harris. Or the NWA reunion if that’s more your thing.


Check out the rest of our Coachella coverage and gear up for festival season by getting the tech to take on your travels.