The ultimate Coachella survival guide

I’ve lived in Palm Springs for more than 3 years and have attended Coachella 4 times. Let’s just say I’ve learned a thing or two about the do’s and don’ts when it comes to the festival frenzy. So I thought I’d help the Coachella newbies out there with some of my tried and true tips for successfully navigating your Coachella Weekend!

Do: Plan ahead.

It’s crazy town when it comes to Coachella. Hotels book up, Ubers surging, the desert turns into a madhouse. Therefore, try to plan as far in advance as you can. Basically, when you buy your ticket you should book your hotel or AirBNB. If you really want to try a restaurant while you’re in town, make reservations. Map out your days so you know what you want to be doing and when.

Bonus Tip: Palm Springs is nowhere near the polo grounds. It’s an awesome place to stay but be prepared to have a LONG shuttle or Uber ride to the festival. Better to stay in La Quinta, Indio, Palm Desert if you’re planning to actually attend the festival.

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Don’t: Try to see everyone who’s performing

I honestly don’t think you could even if you wanted to. With more than 200 artists and bands on the line up you’d need Hermione Granger’s time turner in order to make it to every set. But honestly you don’t want to do that.  Unless you’re a die-hard fan and want to be there from sun up to sun down, my advice is go later in the day. The sun can be brutal out there and you don’t want to get dehydrated and tired and then miss the headliners because you’re down for the count. I usually try to get there anywhere from 4-6 p.m. 

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Do: Plan your outfits

Okay, let’s be honest. Coachella is SO much more than just about the music.  This festival has turned into the place to see and be seen in the most epic outfits. If you ask some people, they hate this about Coachella. It does feel like a weird punk rock version of a beauty pageant, with everyone standing around taking photos of each other’s outfits. That being said, I use this as an opportunity to wear outrageous clothes I couldn’t wear anywhere else. Examples below… 

So if you’re into fashion. Plan your outfits ahead of time.  Unfortunately, most online stores won’t post their “festival shop” until 2-3 weeks before Coachella. For me that’s cutting it a bit too close but maybe that’s how they get you to pay for expedited shipping … hmmmmm.

Don’t: Wear uncomfortable shoes

Truthfully, there’s very few mistakes you can make at Coachella. But the NUMBER ONE mistake you can make is wearing uncomfortable shoes. Don’t get me wrong, it can be done. But then you’ll need to amputate your feet and I just don’t know if cute shoes are worth that. I legit saw a girl this year wearing stilettos. No joke. I should have taken a picture. My heart hurt for her feet. 

Bonus tip: DON’T WEAR NEW SHOES. Sadly, I made this mistake this year and they got RUINED. The sand and mud and gum and all sorts of nastiness get on them and they’re goners. My tried and true go-to shoes are my Steve Madden black combat boots. I always take them to a shoe cleaner afterwards for a little TLC.

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Do: Bring a backpack

Let’s be real, there’s a lot of shit you need to bring when it comes to Coachella. You need your phone, external battery (because who the hell wants to charge your phone at one of those stations), water bottle, make up, sunnies, jacket, the list goes on. So instead of agonizing over how you’re gonna fit all of it into your little bag, do yourself a favor and get a cheap backpack for the weekend.

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Don’t: Forget a bandana

I know it might sound silly but a bandana is essential. Seriously. If you don’t want to sound like your 80-year-old landlord who smokes a pack a day, bring one.

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Do: attend parties

Here’s where things start to get a little complicated. Coachella has turned into the three headed beast from the first Harry Potter movie. (IDK why I’m referencing HP so much lol) There’s too many heads and you don’t know which one to look at. Okay, weird analogy but what I’m trying to say is there’s too much to do and too few days to do it all. That being said, Coachella parties are awesome. If you can figure out a way to get into some of the great ones, the drinks are free and the giveaways are endless. I go back to my earlier tip: PLAN AHEAD. Pick a few parties you really want to go to and then plan to go to the festival at night.

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Bonus tip: try to reach out to your contacts a few weeks in advance. If you wait until the week of or the day before, the guest lists are usually locked in. And unless your Shay Mitchell, you ain’t getting in.

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Don’t: beat yourself up for not being able to get into some

I’ll be honest. EVERY YEAR. I try to get into Neon Carnival. And every year, I don’t get in lol. But you know what, it just isn’t meant to be. So, even if you don’t get into the SUPER exclusive parties, don’t sweat it. There are a million fun things to do during Coachella and I can guarantee you will have a great time at any party if you have the right attitude and you’re not tripping on drugs.

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Do: try to pay someone to pick you up

This might be difficult, but it’s game changing. The first three years I went to Coachella my friends and I paid our friends or an acquaintance to be our driver for the weekend. Usually, it was someone who was around that weekend and wasn’t going. There were five of us and each paid $100 for the whole weekend.  Seems like a pretty good gig. That way you avoid Uber surge prices and have a friend pick you up when you’re ready to jet.

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Don’t: wait in the taxi line

If you’re not lucky enough to have a friend drive you, DON’T WAIT IN THE TAXI LINE. I did this one time and I easily waited an hour and the line did not move once.  Don’t do it people, just don’t.

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Do: other things than just listen to the music

Again, even if you’re in love with the lineup make sure to explore other parts of the festival. Coachella makes a point to make the entire experience great for their guests. So take time to check out all the delicious treats. I had my first ice cream taco at Coachella and I don’t think my life will ever be the same lol. Also the art instillations are always worth checking out. Plus, they’re huge so you really can’t miss them.

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Don’t: split up

Okay, I know there’s mixed opinions on this, but here’s mine. Don’t do it. It’s a pain in the ass and usually it takes forever to find your group if you leave them. Even if you tell them where you’re going to be, give them landmarks and say how long you’ll be gone, somehow it’s still impossible to find each other. Couple that with the nonexistent cell service and basically you’re screwed.  That being said, people split up all the time and it’s fine. I just don’t like the hassle of searching for my friends in a sea of people.

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Do: See people you’ve never heard of

This is important. I always have the best times when I’m in the Do Lab jumping around to some electronic DJ I’ve never heard of before lol. Get out of your comfort zone and explore!!

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Don’t: Leave with people you’ve never heard of

On the flipside, don’t leave with randos. I mean you can, but be careful. Safety first kids!

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Do: take the Monday after off

I should learn to take my own advice because I’ve never done this, but really it’s a good idea. Besides, you’re going to need to travel home and who wants to walk into work Monday after a weekend of partying?

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Don’t: Forget to buy your tickets for next year!

It feels like Coachella is barely over and then next year’s tickets go on sale. Lol. So if you want to make this an annual event, it’s best to buy your tickets early!

I hope this helps! Most important tip of all: HAVE FUN!!! Okay sorry that was cheesy.

READ MORE: 5 Reasons why I use a travel advisor to plan my trips

Adventure Awaits!

Xx

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