How NOT to Camp at a Camping Music Festival

May 29, 2015

I rolled over as my face smacked the side of the tent. The sunlight had warmed the nylon and the brightness stung my eyes as I slowly opened them.

The heavy scent of old bananas suddenly wafted into the air. I pulled the hoodie of my Northface away from my eyes and looked at my feet. My boots were in the bundle of bananas, and had flattened them so they stuck to the bottom of the tent. The watermelon sitting next to them was also covered in banana, a few yellow smears stood out against its green skin.

My friend rolled over, crushing the 7 protein bar wrappers that were under her. My other friend’s feet stuck out of the one person tent, since he was too tall to fit inside.

How NOT to Camp at a Camping Music Festival

I rummaged around, careful not to make too much noise to wake them up. I grabbed one of the Gatorade bottles half full of a clear liquid and opened it, thankful for water. When I brought it to my nose, the stomach-churning smell of cheap tequila suddenly hit me, making me gag. I closed it and threw it a few feet away from me. 

A few minutes later, I was ripping my Northface off and pulling my boots off. It seemed to get 20 degrees hotter in the 5 minutes I had been awake, despite it being freezing cold all night.

My friends and I were the epitome of a camping disaster. Not only did our tent serve as a place to sleep, but it was also a place to pregame and also a place where we threw our garbage the entire weekend, since we apparently couldn’t walk to the garbage pail.

This is how NOT to camp at a camping music festival:

Mistake #1: Carrying all of your belongings in a plastic bag 

The walk from the car, through security, and to the camp ground took us almost two hours. These two hours were spent holding a backpack, my hula hoop, a pillow, my sleeping bag, two towels, a Northface, and two plastic bags of canned chicken, canned tuna, bananas, protein bars, and Gatorade (at least I wasn’t holding a watermelon like my friend was).

By the time I was halfway to security, both bags had ripped, I had lost a can of chicken, and I was holding each item by my fingertips. I thought my arms were going to fall off.

As I observed the other festival goers, I noticed they all had wheel barrows, where they stored all of their items. Bring a wheel barrow. Or a cart. Or anything to hold all of the miscellaneous items you miraculously decided to bring with you to the festival.

How NOT to Camp at a Camping Music Festival

Mistake #2: A one person tent for three people

Although we kept each other warm each night, there was no room for anything else- like sitting up or rolling over. We met someone who had an 8 person tent for 3 people, and met another guy who had a 10 person tent to himself.

We got a lot of positive, hilarious attention for our “cute tent” and the fact that we slept with our feet outside of the door every night. If you’re someone that can’t curl up into a ball and pass out instantly in the comfort of others touching you, then invest in a big tent. 

Also make sure you bring mattress pads, so you don’t wake up with a stiff back.

How NOT to Camp at a Camping Music Festival

Mistake #3: Three phones, zero portable chargers

It’s more likely than not that the festival grounds you’re camping on don’t have outlets everywhere. That being said, invest in a portable charger, bring it, and use it sparingly. Our phones were dead a majority of the festival (which isn’t a bad thing, we just couldn’t take many pictures).

I met a girl who brought a power strip with her, found a lamp in the porta potty bathroom, unplugged it, and then shared the power with those who were lucky enough to pass her. I was one of them.

We spent two hours sitting on the bathroom floor, charging our phones, and talking about how we wanted Chipotle. This girl also got two free beers from someone who wanted to borrow her power strip. If you want to be a hero like this girl, then also bring a power strip. 

How NOT to Camp at a Camping Music Festival

Mistake #4: Cheap tequila, no chasers 

If you’re drinking, make sure you bring a lot of Gatorade. We had Monster (not the best idea) which ran out quickly. This will also keep you hydrated throughout the day and give you the necessary electrolytes to dance until 6 in the morning.

Read the festival guidelines beforehand as well, to know how much liquid you’re allowed to bring.

Mistake #5: Bring a lot of food, especially if you’re on a budget 

Although I still laugh about the fact that my friend ate an entire 28 ounce can of beans by himself for dinner, while I ate chicken straight out of the can, I still wish we had brought more food.

I spent $15 on a chicken sandwich and coleslaw for dinner one of the nights- it was ridiculously expensive. I ate protein bars and black bananas for breakfast and lunch, and splurged for dinner. Bring canned food, a lot of fruits that won’t bruise or spoil in the heat, and even bread for sandwiches. Food at festivals is expensive, so plan accordingly.


Mistake #6: Not making a meeting spot

No phones= lost friends. We lost one of my friends for a few hours one night, and found her in a new group of friends that had adopted her. That being said, the entire time prior we had had no way of contacting her and relied on pure luck to meet up with her again.

If you do happen to lose your friends, you should at least make a meeting spot where you can all meet up before the night is over. This will save you the anxiety and stress of having to look for one of your friends in a crowd of thousands of people.

Mistake #7: Not bringing garbage bags

Buy garbage bags so you’re not using your tent as a garbage disposal, shaking everything out at the end and then picking up the garbage like we did. This will keep your tent clean, organized, and save you the headache of having to clean up afterwards. 

Mistake #8: Not bringing a canopy tent

So many groups had canopy tents with chairs, blow up couches, tapestries, even tables. This is where they all relaxed and hung out while they weren’t at the festival. My friend’s and I sat on the dirt outside of our tent, taking shots from the bottle and looking at the other festival goers and their intelligent preparedness.

How NOT to Camp at a Camping Music Festival

Mistake #9: Not bringing toilet paper

I don’t need to get into details here, but the only bathrooms you’ll be using are porta potties (unless you’re VIP, they have toilets. I know this because I snuck into the VIP section just to use them).

Porta potties run out of toilet paper quickly. Don’t be that person shouting for help because your stall ran out of toilet paper. Be that prepared person who has the toilet paper ready.

Mistake #10: Thinking about anything else except being at the festival 

We had fun- a lot of fun. All of these mistakes entertained us for the four days we were at the festival, and we still laugh about them now. Don’t think about anything else except having as much fun as possible, there is nothing like being at a camping music festival!

Camping music festivals are all throughout the world, and I hope to attend some in other countries.

Do you have anymore tips for those attending a camping music festival? 

Be sure to share on Facebook and Twitter!


  1. Comment by Todd @ Visit50

    Todd @ Visit50 July 12, 2015 at 11:24 pm

    Great post Monica – I love music festivals! Here are some assorted suggestions to add:

    Yes to portable chargers. They’ve been coming way down in price too. I brought two to Firefly last month and was a hero when I ran into my friend that had been camping with a dead phone.

    I also saw solar powered chargers, which seems helpful at a music festival. I saw guys with this set up on their daypack while dancing.

    Phone suggestions – turn off everything non-essential. On Android you can turn off Sync; you really don’t need your phone being up to date with Facebook updates. Some of my friends kept their phone in airplane mode except between acts.

    Many festivals allow coolers at the campgrounds – if so, load it up with ice and food/drinks.

    Meeting spots are crucial, and I’ll take your suggestions a step further. We chose a spot for each stage that became our usual spot, so any of our friends that got separated would know where to start looking when they get back.

    Mistake #9 – TP is great but doesn’t pack as well – never run out of tissues or baby wipes…

    I’m torn on having something tall for people in your group to find each other – people retractable bring sticks with things attached to the top, a float, photo of celebrity’s face, etc. It’s an extra thing to carry that gets in people’s way/view unless you take extra care.

    Ziplock bags – can never have enough. Rain can be very disruptive!

    • Comment by Globe Trottica

      Globe Trottica July 13, 2015 at 12:08 pm

      Thank you so much, Todd! And these tips are incredible! Thank you for adding them, I will definitely be using these tips for my next music festival. I definitely agree with turning off everything non-essential, since it’s about living in the moment. That’s smart about the meeting spot too, it helps if there are multiple ones throughout the campsite and at each stage so you’re not running across the grounds to try and find your friend. I saw so many totem poles, haha! And Ziploc bags are definitely a life saver. Thank you for all of these great tips!

  2. Comment by Michelle

    Michelle April 29, 2016 at 6:41 pm

    I am all for baby wipes or antibacterial wipes. We actually precook our meals and reheat them, but I’m lucky enough to take a caravan. We eat in the style of large breakfast, snack inside the festival and head back for a meal around three then back to the festival til lights out. Great festival in Australia in July, “splendour in the grass”. Have my tickets and thinking of all the fun I will have. Don’t forget your rain boots

    • Comment by Globe Trottica

      Globe Trottica April 30, 2016 at 8:37 am

      That’s such a great idea, Michelle! You would save so much money bringing your own food and reheating it (meals are so expensive in festivals!). Rain boots are also a great suggestion. Thanks so much for reading and I hope you have an amazing time in July! :]

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