It’s official, festival fever is firmly upon us at STA Travel HQ!
Not only are we heading back to Bestival in the UK to host our second STA Travel hostel and music stage, but we’ve also launched STA Travel Beats! No big deal, just small group adventures onto the frontline of the underground international festival scene. Check it out, it’s rad.
So, we felt it was about time we did something practical. And this, is thus! Your almost essential guide to festival planning and packing. Not dissimilar to packing to go travelling (capsule wardrobe, wet wipes, optimistic interpretation of your weather app) this should prepare you for all manner of festival chaos, from meteorological disasters to running out of breakfast cider.
Pay As You Go burner phone
It’s one of life’s great mysteries that your pre-millennium Nokia could power through an entire weekend on three bars of battery, yet your precious iPhone can barely handle your daily commute. Save your phone for photos, and buy a £10 burner for staying in touch with festival friends. (And for playing Snakes during Chris Martin’s boring bits).
Also, burner phones make you feel like a total SPY. And will actually fit in your pocket. Oh and kids, those raised things with numbers on? They’re buttons.
Okay Jason Bourne, you may have a burner phone now, but this is not your excuse to go off-grid. You’ll need ID to get into most festivals, even if you have a ticket. Or to show to the overzealous teenager at the Foster’s tent, who’s royally naffed off because he’s pulling pints while you’re running around in your jazz pants. THAT KID HATES YOU. AND HE’S GOING TO ID YOU. FOR FUN.
Gaffa tape, quite famously, has a number of racy uses. However, we’re pretty sure it was invented to tape slabs of beer to your festival trolley, mend holes in tents and waterproof busted wellies.
Some people will lug around blow-up mattresses, feathered pillows and all manner of soft furnishings to accessorise their tents. However, these people have woefully underestimated how much drink they’ll need. Not you! You’ve packed a carefully-estimated quantity of cider and an empty pillow case, which you will later stuff with unworn clothes to form a pillow. Comfortable (ignore the lumps, you can’t have everything) and it keeps your tent tidy. You’re a goddam genius.
Crisps, chips… whatever. For the next four days, it’s breakfast. And it’s acceptable to be aggressively breaking into a bag before you’ve even unzipped your fly sheet. This is your life now. Salt.
It’s the summer of love, music and tolerance to all fellow human be… no wait. You, next door, with the snoring? You suck.
A worthy piece of pre-festival planning, head online to Clashfinder General. View potential band clashes, fall out with friends in advance over who you want to see, and print off a timetable to take with you. Sounds geeky (it is) but it’s better than a) buying a programme or b) unknowingly missing your fourteenth favourite band because you were appeasing your weird mates at the psychedelic folk tent.
We’re talking about Babybel, or similar. Essentially any kind of sweaty cheese, housed in rubber, that could happily survive an apocalypse. Un-refrigerated.
We’re not going to say it again. In fact it’s so important, Baz Luhrmann even did a song about it.
Festival bedtimes and mornings typically go like this. “Wow, it’s actually chillier than I expected” (nighttime) and “Oh my god, I can’t breathe, is this actually the gates of hell?” (6am, approximately 3 minutes after the sun’s come up).
In the morning, just abort and get into a safe open space. And at night, in the likely event that your alcohol anorak fails, crawl into the squishy warmth of a down jacket. They’re small, space-saving and are the perfect accompaniment to a late night box of red ‘tent’ wine.
Fold up 4-pint carrier
Scenario. There’s a queue at the beer tent, and you and your small-fisted friends need to double up your order. However, following an unfortunate incident with a cardboard missile during One Direction last year, the festival committee have decided to ban bars from giving out drinks carriers. No problem. Whip out your collapsible drinks holder and strut right out of there without spilling a drop!
For the dreaded march from your car to the camp, this will be the best £25 you’ve ever spent. Unless of course, there’s four feet of Europe’s finest mud, in which case you have an important decision to make. It’s either the tent, or the cider. One of them has to go.
Have you ever seen chewing gum for sale at a festival? No, exactly.
Even if you are allowed to take your own alcohol into the arena, glass is always going to be a big no at any festival. After you’ve decanted into plastic bottles, just please remember which is Volvic and which is vodka? That fourth trip to Mr. Ham’s Famous Hog Roast means you’re going to wake up at 5am disorientated by pork and absolutely parched.
Oh, you thought the tent bag felt light did you? Yes genius, that’s because you forgot to put the pegs and poles back in after you dried the tent out last year.
Even if you did remember to pack them, add spares. Tent pegs go to the same place that socks in tumble dryers go. Narnia, probably.
At some point Adele, or possible even Coldplay, will personally request that you raise your iPhone torches in the air. You can’t, it died on the drive over remember? As well as being ideal for these emotional crowd-bonding moments, you’ll also need a head torch for hurdling guy ropes on the way back to your tent and fumbling around in the dark for Doritos.
Portable phone chargers
Look, no one wants to actually disappoint Adele (she seems like a nice lady), so give portable phone chargers a go. They do work. Just go easy on Instagram.
No you’re right, it’s not as cool as your North Face. But it’s light, easy to carry and the only thing that will keep your ass dry when it pelts it down. The rest of the time, well, it’s just a handy groundsheet.
And finally, a ‘give-a-festival’ attitude
Festivals are a lottery. It may be sunny (we’ve heard rumours here in the UK that some are) or you could be sliding around in the mud like a proverbial pig for four days. Whatever happens, our guide to festivals is this. The music will be awesome and the sanitation will be bearable, but it’s the people that make it.
Dance wildly, sing loudly, fall in love, make friends, stay safe and have a blast.
p.s. If you notice that this blog is devoid of any personal hygiene products, it’s deliberate. Staying Clean on the Festival Scene is a whole new blog. Which conveniently, can be found right here.