This year will be my sixth time at Coachella. I know, it’s a lot. I’ve been to a lot of other music festivals, but Coachella is one of the few that keeps bringing me back. Some of my best memories with my favorite people have occurred on the Polo fields, and I truly believe Coachella is where people go to let their souls shine in the desert sun.
A big part of my experience at this musical mecca has been initiating others into it. With over 80,000 people daily and countless live acts to get to, it can be overwhelming whether it’s your first time or sixth time attending.
I’ve put together a cheat sheet based on what I’ve learned over my years at the festival—call it pro tips, a survival guide, or common sense you forgot you had when under the influence. Whether you’re still hoping for another Tupac hologram appearance or wondering whether flower crowns are still a thing (they’re not), use the following and have the best Coachella 2016.
What to Wear:
- Comfortable AF clothes that you don’t mind getting destroyed by sun/your sweat/other people’s sweat/dust/Do Lab water guns. Think shorts, tank tops, sneakers, hats, and sunglasses. This is a great time to buy out the sale rack at H&M or Forever 21.
- Backpack. You don’t want to have weight on one shoulder all day, and you’ll need a place to store sunscreen, sunglasses, chapstick, and water.
- A jacket. Coachella is a desert, and it gets chilly at night. You don’t want to be coming down and feel miserable walking back to your campsite/shuttle stop.
- Waterproof watch. You’ll be constantly checking the time and want to save your phone battery.
Food and Drink:
- Always be drinking water. Even if you think you’ve had enough, you probably haven’t.
- There are refill stations for water, but honestly, suck it up and just buy water if you really need it. It’s not worth beating yourself up over missing an artist cuz you stood in line for water refills for 30 minutes.
- EAT. Time operates much differently at Coachella, so it’s easy to not feel hungry at all (this will also happen if you’re engaging in other things). Force yourself. Even a popsicle is better than nothing.
- That said, popsicles are freakin’ delicious. I eat like 3 a day when I’m there.
- Get portable chargers/batteries (I like this one). Keep your phone on APM (airplane mode) when you’re watching performances—you’ll be with your friends anyways so enjoy the act and worry about finding people later.
- Change your phone lock screen to the day’s lineup. It’s an easy way to always have the schedule on hand.
- Use timestamps when texting. Texts can get highly delayed so you want to know when people are actually sending you things to avoid confusion. Also the thrill when your timestamps correlate with the actual time is unparalleled.
- Don’t take videos on your phone. Lezbereal, you’re never going to watch them again, they probably are shitty quality anyways, and you don’t want to block other people’s views. Just enjoy the moment.
- Pick up as many maps as you can. You’ll lose nearly all of them or end up giving them away.
- You will split up from everyone. It’s fine. You will also run into everyone from your past life from childhood friends to college exes. That’s also fine. It’s Coachella, so remember the bigger picture.
- I love bringing my mini Instax for Polaroids during the day. It’s a fun way to take photos and give them to friends!
- Bring at least $100 in cash each day.
- Don’t live in the Sahara tent. We get it, you like EDM. Now open your mind a bit.
- The Do Lab is life. Go everyday.
- Get there early one day and ride the ferris wheel. It’s unreal.
- If you’re going to get on someone’s shoulders, do it for a reasonable amount of time. Aka not for the entire performance—us short people need to see.
- You will never 100 percent see everyone you want to see and stick to your schedule. Don’t get moody about it. Half the fun of Coachella is wandering around and discovering new artists.
- See the international artists. Even if the lyrics aren’t in English, non-American musicians know how to bring it. I had a religious experience watching Yelle and Stromae last year.
- Don’t be that person pushing your way to the front. If you really want to see an artist, get there early and wait it out.
- Bring vitamins and take them every morning. My vitamins of choice are B, Emergen-C, Advil, and Sudafed (aka the medicine of the gods).
- Hang out at the campsites after the festival ends, even if you’re not staying there. The campgrounds come alive with silent discos, lights, and people, and chances are, you won’t be ready to sleep anyways, so might as well stay awake with like-minded people.
- Stretch every morning. You walk upwards of 8-10 miles a day and your legs will be sore AF. I legit bring a foam roller to our house.
- I use Splitwise to organize all my expenses with friends throughout the festival—highly recommended so you’re not worried about the nitty gritty until later.
- Those structures all aorund the festivals? Those are as much oases of shade as they are meeting spots. I can’t tell you how many people I met up with at the rainbow pretzel in 2014.
- Bring a small roll of toilet paper and hand sanitizer. This is also why you need a backpack.
- Be nice to security; they might have your back later.
- Say hi to everyone. I’ve made some awesome friends at Coachella, and I love being able to see them every year no matter what part of the world they live in.