1. Water: If allowed, bring a CamelBak or a reusable water bottle. Keep in mind that sometimes only festival branded ones are okay. I recommend different CamelBak sizes based on the festival. For EDC, I prefer the smaller size that basically only holds the bladder, whereas for Burning Man, I prefer the larger size that can hold the bladder and my gear. I highly recommend the mouthpiece cover, which protects the mouthpiece from dirt or being randomly touched in crowds.
If you don’t want to bring a CamelBak, then you can buy water at the event and refill the bottle if there are water filling stations. This is not a reliable plan since some festivals require that vendors keep the bottle caps. (Pro tip: Bring one or two bottle caps with you into the festival so you can cover your bottles in case this policy is in place.)
2. Food: This may sound silly, but remember to eat. Between pre-festival anxiety (it’s a real thing), trying to find your friends, waiting in security and bathroom lines, and juggling overlapping stage schedules, it’s easy to let half the day go by without eating something. Luckily, food has become a more prominent feature at many festivals, so you have lots of convenient and delicious options to choose from. My favorite festival food vendors are at the Lollapalooza Farmers Market, but many other festivals now also offer healthful options, such as fresh fruit.
3. Clothes and accessories: Wear whatever makes you feel amazing, but remember that you’ll be dancing your bootie off all day and will potentially encounter temperamental weather conditions. Sunglasses and a bandana are always good to have in case of a dust storm, and layers are also important if you expect temperatures to drop at night. For Burning Man, make sure to have goggles and a headlamp with you at all times. You never know when the next whiteout is going to hit!
4. Earplugs: Bring earplugs. The risk of hearing damage is surprisingly rarely addressed, but if you are at a festival, there is a good chance you are exposing yourself to harmful decibel levels. The three most common brands I see used among my fellow festivalgoers are V-MODA, Etymotic Research, and EarPeace. Of the three, I prefer V-MODA’s because they look sleek and have an attachable string, which prevents me from losing them if they fall out of my ear.
5. Sun protection: Sun exposure can get a little intense, especially during the summer. Remember to stay hydrated and to listen to your body. If you’re tired, try to find a cool and shaded place to rest. Other than that, stick to general sun protection tactics (e.g., wearing sunblock, sunglasses, and a hat).
6. Phones: Make sure your phone is fully charged before leaving home, and keep your phone on airplane mode as much as possible. Also, clear out your storage before the event. You don’t want to experience the anxiety you experience when you’re recording an epic set, then suddenly see the “out of storage” warning and frantically try to decide what photos to delete.
7. Security: Each event has its own security rules that often change from year to year. Double check the list of items that are allowed before leaving home, or you could end up losing that lip balm you just opened.
8. My Festival Checklist: In summary, below is a list of my festival essentials.
- Pack of tissue
- Hand sanitizer
- Lip balm
- Bandana or scarf
- Piece of paper with my friends’ numbers written on it
- Extra phone battery and battery pack
Have fun, and be safe out there!