A good friend and collaborator, the great writer Graham Berry, crafted this article of festing tips for you. There are some really great notes in here, secrets that usually take a long time to figure out…. I thought you’d enjoy having them in hand. He wrote it for Fest300, and we thank the folks there for letting us reprint it.
You’ve just arrived at a festival. You have the whole weekend to look forward to, but one final – and crucial – decision needs to be made before fantastic fest madness ensues: Where to set up camp? Preferred campsites go fast, so the choice should be made quickly and executed with a few landgrab Do’s and Don’ts in mind. The next time you head to a festival, bring along this list of pro tips to make sure you’ve got the best campsite possible for you and your crew.
Arriving at the Festival
DO: Research the festival.
Talk to people who’ve been before to find out the best places to camp.
DO: Arrive early, as soon as the gates open.
Go for the gold. By “gold,” we mean the highly coveted camping spots with lush, cushy grass, flat ground, and tree branches overhead for prized shade (where possible).
Waiting In Line
DO: Listen to security and staff.
These people are dealing with stressed out festie road warriors all day, in the hot sun. But don’t hesitate to ask one for directions or parking guidance. They want to help. Also, some serious advice: If you fail to muster kindness, these folks could delay your arrival, split up your group, or send you to park in the farthest lot.
DO: Stay below the speed limit.
At most festival venues, that’s about 5 miles per hour. Yes, you’re in a hurry and you’ve traveled so far to get there. Chillax. A speeding ticket will set you back about as much as a festival ticket, and it will be a lot less fun.
DON’T: Drink in your car.
It’s difficult to resist the urge when the party is starting all around you, but if you can resist drinking, you’ll squarely avoid consequences that could have long term repercussions.
DON’T: Forget your ID or credentials.
If there is a special car camping pass, don’t leave it behind. Getting replacement credentials and passes is expensive and challenging.
Setting Up Camp
DO: Bring lights.
If, for any reason, your carpool arrives in the evening it’ll be extremely helpful to have a way to find a spot and set up. Also, adding light to your decor scheme is a great way to find your camp at night and generally makes the campsite more fun and festive for everyone.
DO: Keep a sense of how far away all the stages are so you can be sure you’ll minimize walking throughout the weekend.
Your feet will thank you.
DO: Lay down a tarp or a rug to ward off sticks, rocks or insects from getting in your tent.
With a little extra carpet or a leftover construction tarp surrounding your tent entrance, kicking off your shoes and relaxing gets way less messy.
DO: Set up an EZ-up to reserve space for a friend and keep the campsite cool.
Don’t have one? Hammer down stakes where you hope to save space for a friend. This is a great way to claim a little extra elbow room in crowded spots, and the shade is a must-have on those ultra-hot afternoons.
DON’T: Camp on inclines.
Hillsides are a pain in the neck to sleep on (literally) and have you ever tried to set down a beer on table that wasn’t level? Talk about a buzzkill. Tucker Gumber, also known as the Festival Guy, suggests that if there’s no way around camping on an incline, sleep with your head uphill.
DON’T: Camp by a port-a-potty.
As the festival heats up these things can get fragrant, and the trucks that come by to clean them out are noisy. At the same time, try to account for the occasional bathroom emergency.
DON’T: Set up camp next to a major stage, or prepare to face the bass all night.
Keep your hearing intact by giving your ears a much-needed rest, away from the vibrations of next-level sound systems. Consider bringing ear plugs to get extra sleep.
DON’T: Camp outside the designated campgrounds.
Staff will ask you to move, which means you’ll have to rebuild your tent a second time. Ugh. Save yourself the trouble and camp with all the other good, happy campers.
DO: Help your neighbors set up their campsites.
It’s just good camping karma.
DO: Consider how others will walk through the campgrounds.
If you’ve found primo real estate, chances are you’ve got a lot of nearby friends. It’s socially invigorating but remember, at the end of the night, a stampede of weary travelers will need to find their tents in the dark. So, plan pathways around your tent accordingly.
DO: Bring gifts.
Fest300’s Social Alchemist Eamon Armstrong likes to arrive with a big colorful bouquet of flowers. This achieves two goals. First, it ingratiates your group to the people around you. Second, it serves as a reminder of who your new friends are when you cross paths again at the festival later on. Also you may see the flowers accentuating your neighbors’ outfits and hairdos. How could you not love that?
DON’T: Assume that if you can’t camp with your friends you won’t have a good time.
Whether in a group or alone, car camping always creates opportunities for spontaneous conversation, and every one of those conversations is the beginning of a brand-new friendship.
DO: Make friends and have fun exploring!
These tips are key to a less stressful festival; not only will they teach you about the time-honored tradition of the festival landgrab, they’ll heighten your awareness of both the fest culture and the environment. In fact, by seeding the festival camping practice with some hard-earned patience and brotherly love, it may be possible to cultivate a better festival experience overall.
Thanks to Graham & Fest300.com