Ok, so you’ve checked out our summer festival essentials and planned your packing accordingly. But before you chuck everything into that big backpack, here are ten tips to eliminate the worst festival hassles. Trust me on this – I’ve been there and made the mistakes, so you don’t have to!
1. Leave some stuff at home. At a festival, over-packing is a serious pain in the you-know-what – because you have to lug all that stuff you’ll never use all the way to your chosen campsite. And then drag it all the way back again. Pack the minimum you think can get away with, then dump a third of it. You’ll be surprised at how little difference it makes to your festival experience.
2. Take lots of gaffer tape. Gaffer tape is a bit like The Force; it has a light side and a dark side and it holds the universe together. So it’s more than up to fixing things at festivals. Leaky tents, broken bags, wobbly stoves, snapped guy ropes, damaged flags … if it needs fixing, chances are gaffer tape can do it. And then it has other uses too, of course.
3. Invest in a good trolley. If you’re bringing in booze and food to last the festival, that’s a lot of carrying – especially if you’re up for the whole five days at Glastonbury. A study sack truck or trolley makes getting everything to your tent much easier. But beware: cheap trolleys can be a false economy, especially if it’s muddy. Aim for proper pneumatic tyres and a solid metal frame.
4. Plan ahead with your mobile. There are loads of ways to damage an iPhone at a festival, so swap yours for a cheap, sturdy handset. Beg, borrow or steal one (actually, don’t steal one), then buy an extra battery from eBay so you don’t have to queue at the charging points. And remember: phones don’t work well at big festivals, so arrange a time to meet your mates.
5. Make sure your waterproof stuff is actually waterproof. Ok, so not even the most water-resistant tent can protect you from 2005-style Glastonbury floods. But if it does get muddy, your tent becomes a warm(ish), dry haven. Choose one with good waterproofing to keep it that way. Ditto wellies and jackets: if it buckets down, going for the cheapest option can seem foolish.
6. Remember a marker pen and paper. At last year’s Glastonbury, I was still receiving festival text messages two days after I’d got home. You’re bound to get separated from your mates at some point – in those situations, leaving a note at your tent is often the best way to find each other. It certainly beats repeatedly shouting “I’m near a burger van” into your phone while Muse are on.
7. Be ready for an epic hangover. Most people who’ve been to a festival have at least one stomach-churning, nausea-inducing hangover story. A hot tent is not a nice place to be when you’ve overdone it. For a quick recovery, I recommend Alka-Seltzer, Lucozade, lots of water and earplug-assisted sleep. You probably know what works best for you, so be prepared.
8. Make a distinctive flag. At any given festival there’ll be about 3,000 tents identical to yours. And another 20,000 that look similar. A distinctive flag is the ideal way to locate your spot. You can make one with fabric paints and a pillowcase – and you’ll find flagpole sellers at most festivals. Just don’t pick the St. George’s flag for Glastonbury this year – with the World Cup, they’ll be everywhere.
9. Print the stage times before you go. Some festivals give out free programmes. Others charge. But if you’re anything like me, your programme will be lost, torn or covered in mud before the first day is out. So hunt out the stage times online, then print off a few copies to be sure you know what’s happening and when. For Glastonbury, I recommend Halvin’s clashfinder wholeheartedly.
10. Keep your stuff safe. Ok, here’s the dull safety announcement: crime at festivals does happen. It’s not likely your things will be stolen, but why take the chance? Keep valuables on you, hide your car keys somewhere deep inside your backpack – and when you finally decide it’s time for some sleep, stuff your wallet and anything else that’s nickable into your sleeping bag, all the way down near your feet.
What are your festival tips? Leave a comment and let us know.
(Image: Tents at Glastonbury. Could you find yours?)