One of the most popular ways to utilize the ridiculous energy levels, responsibility-free schedules and biological resilience youth affords you in your college years is by loading up your car with friends and camping equipment and shelling out hundreds of dollars for weekend-long music festivals. Take advantage of it. But whether you're headed to Hulaween, Okeechobee, Zen Awakening or the mighty Bonnaroo, here are a few tips to hopefully save you some cash and reduce the risk of permanent damage.
Volunteer your time for free tickets
Tickets to multi-day festivals can be pricey AF, running around $300 for a full weekend pass. But there are ways to mitigate that cost. Some festivals will let you sign up for a promo code, and the more people you can get to purchase a ticket with that promo code, the closer you are to getting a free ticket. There's also the option of volunteering at a festival. After putting down a deposit (usually the full cost of a ticket), you can sign up to volunteer for a few shifts throughout the weekend and, assuming you show up for those shifts, you'll be refunded the full amount after the festival's over. Clean Vibes, the largest company that provides volunteer cleanup services to festivals, starts looking for volunteers in February of each year.
The sun and heat at festivals can be a literal killer. Plan your campsite accordingly. While you'll definitely want to bring a shade tent (or five, depending on the size of your group), don't forget to mitigate sun pouring in from weird angles by bringing tapestries, blankets or tarps to hang from the sides to create a more comfortable living arrangement. Speaking of heat ...
Yes, we know that part of the fun of festivals is being at least a little unsober for an entire weekend. But by the end of the first day, you'll see plenty of people who go too hard being carted off to the medical tents in buggies. The most common cause of this is dehydration, so make sure to grab that 24-pack of bottled water along with the suitcase of Coors Banquet. Even better: Bring a reusable water bottle that you can clip on. Most festivals have plenty of refill stations available.
There's more than just music
While planning out your campsite and figuring out who's bringing the propane for the grill, who's bringing the food and who's bringing the solar shower (oh BTW, bring a solar shower; you'll save money and make new friends), don't get locked in to a game plan for the festival's entertainment schedule. In all our years of festivaling, we've never gotten to see everyone we wanted, but we've often discovered new favorite bands just by being in the wrong place at the right time. Plus, most festivals these days put a lot of work into creating unique environments and art pieces for attendees to discover on their own, like interactive sound sculptures or inflatable igloo caves. Take the time to explore; it's half the point of going to a festival in the first place.