If you are a seasoned festival attendee like myself, more likely than not you’ve found yourself deep in a festival campsite, bonding with your neighbors over beers and the sights and sounds of a campsite after-party. You’re half-hoping the weekend never ends and half-craving your bed and shower at home. Strangers became friends; countless memories have been made; laughs, stories and social media handles have all been shared, yet you can’t wait to be back in the comfort of your air-conditioned home, freshly showered and clean. Any sort of sleeping arrangement for a festival has its ups and downs, and festival camping is always full of ups and downs throughout the weekend.
If you’ve never experienced camping at a festival, I’m sure your perceptions could be a bit exaggerated. Many think camping means absolutely roughing it for three or four days, no hygiene and no privacy. In reality, it doesn’t take much effort to have an incredible camping experience. Good company, good gear and good planning have been my secret ingredients for camping success at festivals over the years. Even if there are hiccups within the organized camping, good company will always make the best of any camping situation.
Pros of Camping
The community you build around you is unmatched; you immediately feel a sense of unity with any group that’s also camping. Your crew and the thousands of others in the campsites become one massive family. Everyone comes together for the same reason, yet every individual has his or her own different and diverse background story. You’re all experiencing the same inclusive festival vibes, sticking it out through whatever weather conditions may arise and bonding over all the same shenanigans and your favorite artists. Camping is the main reason why my festival family has grown to over 300 wonderful souls throughout the years.
You’re right next to the festival! You save money by not having to order Lyfts, you don’t have to stress about your DD staying sober and you don’t have to spend time leaving and returning to the festival site three times a weekend. You’re completely immersed for the weekend.
Nowadays, festivals offer a whole range of camping options. You can bring your own gear, rent an RV or purchase a camping pass that includes a pre-set up tent option. This is extremely helpful for those traveling from out of state and don’t want to haul all of that gear across a couple state lines.
You can run back to your campsite any time during the festival. Need to freshen up? Want to change or grab a hoodie you didn’t want to carry around earlier in the day? A 5 minute adventure back to your campsite is much more of a time-saver and is extremely convenient.
The party never stops. To some this could be a con, but I can handle a couple nights that turn into early mornings. Festivals only come around once a year and the best stories come from these types of nights.
All natural, all weekend! Again, a con to some but definitely a pro for me. I don’t have to worry about doing my hair or bothering with much makeup because I’m outside all weekend. Embrace your natural beauty ladies, all the boys do it too. Hint, glitter is a camping staple in covering up dark circles.
Cons of Camping
You’re pretty much stuck in the same spot for the weekend. Unless you plan ahead with snacks, water, drink and booze, you’ll be expending a hefty amount of cash on festival prices or trying to catch a Lyft to the nearest grocery store a couple times that weekend to restock. My suggestion is use a Google Doc and designate who in the group is in charge of bringing what foods/drinks and how much of each. Organization is KEY for comfortable, low-stress camping.
Hygiene. You know what you’re getting into when you sign up for festival camping, which mean running the risk of extreme hygiene compromising. These camping festivals can get hot, which means the shower stations become a hot commodity. The shower lines can back up to at least an hour long or worse, showers not working. I’ve experienced this twice so my camping essentials list will always include baby wipes and a portable shower tent. You can find these collapsible tents for $50 on Amazon and it will become one of your camping essentials, as well.
Lack of electricity is an issue for some, specifically in regards to charging phones and needing light at night for finding your way back to your campsite. Multiple portable chargers for your phones and using battery-powered strings of lights at your campsite are some more tricks for conquering the lack of electricity for the weekend.
The party never stops, it’s part of the environment. Pro for me, con for some. Sorry to our Lost Lands neighbors this past year! If you get grumpy without ample beauty sleep, wear your earplugs when you sleep. Some festivals now offer the option of quiet camping, where you can still be part of the entire camping experience without the never-ending sounds of your after-partying neighbors. Also, the rave mom in me is coming out. You should already have earplugs on your essential items list that you use inside the festival. Please protect your ears!!
So… Camping or No Camping?
In my ‘professional’ festivaler opinion, camping will always be my first and favorite option. You bond with your crew, you meet so many wonderful new people and you are 100% connected to the festival environment. Every camping experience is different too. You never know what magical adventure can unfold with your festival crew and a couple thousand strangers camping together.