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Survival of the Preparedest

It’s the end of May and my favorite time of year is about to kick it into high gear - Music in the great outdoors! If my husband and I had our druthers, we’d be festival hopping from Coachella to the Bridge School Benefit! Sadly we have not figured out the secret formula for growing money trees, or even change shrubs so we try to limit ourselves.

Yay outdoors

Outdoor concerts: a bunch of people all having a good time, watching a bunch of bands, and usually finding some good food as well. A lot of times you'll find it's also cheaper than seeing a bunch of regular concerts as most outdoor one day events will include multiple headliners. And it’s OUTSIDE! The downside? The risk of inclement weather (we’ve been through a tornado warning), health risks (dehydration, exhaustion, sunburn, heat stroke), and not minding your spending. But just a bit of planning and smarts can help you be ready and let you enjoy the music.

*These are our tips to spend less but still have fun. We usually spend $800 - $900 altogether for Bonnaroo, including gas, hotels before/after, food, tickets, etc.


In General:

Check out the do and don’t lists for wherever you’re going including: reentry policies, food and drink policies, and any other important information.

Protect yourself! Bring ear plugs, a hat/bandana, and sunscreen. Let’s just go for a long term goal of being able to hear and have healthy skin. Also nothing sucks like getting a sunburn on the first day of a festival and hugging the shadows for the rest.


Stay hydrated! Lots of venues let you bring empty or sealed water bottles and provide watering stations. Check the rules. Use it. And beer/wine don’t count as hydating.


There will be walking, most likely some dancing, and jumping. Or there might be a hungry shoe pit where two flip flops may enter, but only one at most will get out.

Be nice to security. Right before my turn in line, I empty my pockets and organize my bag so it’s just a quick pat down the sides, look in the bag, and I get waved in.

My Bag: This is my standard pack for any show in the wonderful outdoors no matter what.

Survival BagPlastic bag keeps everything dry if it rains, and your TP unmussed. Ear plugs and sanitizer clip to strap or belt loops for ease of use. My wallet is pared down to day's cash allotment, id, and debit card. Not Pictured: Schedule printout and snacks. Check rules if you can bring in outside snacks first. Make sure all snacks have a higher melting point. We bring cracker sandwich packs, a ziploc of trail mix, granola bars and beef jerky.

All right, so have fun you day-goers that’s the end of the general list. All you multi-day festival campers, here’s a few more for you.

Camping for Pearl Jam 20 Festival

Our Packing List for Bonnaroo

Share a sign-up online to coordinate who's bringing what.

Conserve car space. Buy perishables and items you will consume at the site the day before or the day of entry.

Check ahead about the camping rules. No glass? Leaving and reentry rules? These are all good things to know ahead of time.

Check message boards for festival specific advice.

Practice setting up your tents at home. Sometimes you need to be able to quickly claim your space and set up your footprint, especially if someone is setting up one of those 5 room tents next to you... But don’t be mean. You are going to live next to them for awhile. We lay out all our tents right away to make sure we have enough space, and adjust as able afterward.

Have a living space. Whether it’s a tent or a tarp you’ve suspended off the back of your car, make sure you have someplace you can sit and escape the sun or rain. A place to cook at your campstove and chat.

Get to know your neighbors, that way you have other people who are looking out for your site while you’re away hopefully.

Don’t leave anything valuable where it could easily be taken (ie. your tent).

In a group? Bring along a spare key.

Our food diet: egg scramble in the morning, sandwich for lunch, hot dog for dinner, and trail mixes 24/7! Also, instant oatmeal and soup cups for times where you must eat NOW.

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