Coachella is is starting to become a ‘thing’ for me.
I first attended Coachella in 2010 and had the opportunity to go all fan-girl on Britt Daniel and Spoon, my favorite band. I had vowed to return and did so the next year (though thanks to Timehop I discovered that in 2011 I said I’d never return because of their customer service issues – who am I kidding?). Yet here I am, packing up for weekend 2 of Coachella 2012, psyched up for some Tupac hologram action and hipster-dodging. (For the record, I might qualify as a One-Upper.)
So what should you bring to Coachella? Well, every year I learn something new about the Coachella experience, and while I’d like to say that a VIP pass is a must-have, I survived last year without one (from 2010 I kind of wish I had one). I like roughin’ it with the normal people anyways (makes me feel better about going for the music and not for status). That said, here’s my Coachella must-haves in 2012!
- The Official Coachella app. Improving by leaps and bounds since last year, this app will save a lot of trouble. I’m not afraid to get lost in the parking lots again (however, knowing me, anything can happen) nor am I afraid to forget where I need to go to make sure I don’t miss my favorite act. Assuming you can manage your cell phone battery, this is a great bet.
- Travel-sized Wet Ones. These things are a miracle and a half. Coachella gets pretty grimy, especially if you’re camping (and this year I am not). Even if you aren’t part of the camping crowd, these can really help after eating food, stomping around the grounds a few times, or after it gets dark out and you cool down only to realize that you really don’t smell that great.
- Spray-on sunscreen. It’s a life-saver (literally! Skin cancer is bad!). I tend to go it alone at Coachella at least half of the time, so it can be awkward putting sunscreen on my back. What’s weird is the number of creepy guys who are totally unashamed to volunteer their services; however, your best bet is to be able to put it on yourself.
- Cheap sunglasses. Read: not your Ray-Bans. It’s so easy to lose, break, or scratch good sunglasses that I am terribly afraid to bring anything but cheap-o gas station knockoffs with me to Coachella. If you bring a couple of pairs and lose those you’re still going to be better off.
- A small notepad and a pen. You never know when you’ll need to exchange phone numbers, write down important details, or get your favorite lead singer’s autograph. I regret not getting the guys from Miike Snow to sign something for me, but I have photographic evidence of hanging out with them while chatting them up in their native tongue.
- A zippered plastic bag. This is more important than you may realize. I tend to keep my cash, ID, and a card with a small binder clip in this bag along with the notepad and pen. If I get anything that might get soaked – like a keepsake photo from one of the booths or an autograph – it’ll most likely fit in the bag.
- A lightweight poncho/windbreaker. Because they technically don’t allow blankets in (even though I see plenty of people with blankets), I never want to take the risk of getting something confiscated or being held up at security for any longer than it already takes. I also want to be warm after the sun goes down, so I bring a windbreaker that is specifically designed to fold up into the front pouch. It’s perfect for the impending chill once the sun goes down.
- My Sony Bloggie. When I attended Coachella in 2010, I filmed some of my favorite moments on my Bloggie. I also took some great photos. Non-professional cameras are indeed allowed into the venue, so the Bloggie fits right in; also, because I don’t want to drain the battery on my phone, it helps for taking photos and videos of my favorites without eeking out precious time to tweet/text/call/use the Coachella app. This year I’m bringing my Bloggie touch.
- Snacks… in the car. Bringing in outside food and drink is prohibited, so while I do bring an empty water bottle (and sometimes – sometimes! – sneak in some almonds or a breakfast bar in the inside zipper of my bag), I find that no matter how quickly I rush to Coachella or how long I sit in the lines to leave, I’m always hungry in the parking lot. Leave some (unmeltable) snacks in the car and that hour-long wait just to head back to the hotel will be far more tolerable.
I could probably come up with a few more helpful hints, but out of practicality, this is the most important hint to remember: bringing more than the minimum is a drag. It also really, really sucks to get anything confiscated. It’s just too difficult to enjoy the shows when you’re lugging around too much junk or worrying about anything that isn’t the show in front of you. Bring the minimum, be precise about what you’re going to pack, and be prepared to run by one of the nearby grocery stores at some point just in case. (Me? I prefer the Stater Bros. off the 111.)
Don’t forget to check out the official list of what’s OK to bring and what isn’t.
What practical items do you bring to Coachella or any other music festival?