10 Tips for Surviving Coachella

Coachella 2012 - Team Goose

We survived Coachella 2012! What an AMAZING adventure Ashley and I decided to take (last-minute).

We were all Coachella “virgins”, so we had to learn along the way how to survive camping at Coachella. I am going to share some of my new-found wisdom with you, so that when you go to Coachella 2013 you don’t have to suffer like we did.

1. Camping Gear: Come prepared!

For some of you this is a no-brainer. However, us first-timers did not come prepared. Everything worked out in the end, but my first tip is bring not only the essentials, but extras as well!

Car camping - Coachella 2012

  • Tent(s)
  • Gazebo – while we were there it was extremely hot, and the weekend before it was cold and rainy. A gazebo is necessary, not an option.
  • Pillow
  • Chairs

2. Water and Energy Bars

Water is everywhere at Coachella; and thankfully it’s cheap ($2 a bottle). However, having plenty of water at your campsite isn’t a bad idea. There are refill stations, but as you will read below, constantly refilling your water bottle only wastes time and forces you to brave the elements more than needed. Bring flats of water, you’ll need it!

Energy Bars (we ate Clif Bars) are perfect for Coachella. We ate them for breakfast (way cheaper than the $9 burrito offered at the food trucks), and they were perfect for mid-day snacks when we needed energy. Buy them at Walmart before, as buying them at the General Store on the grounds is just as expensive as buying a burrito.

3. Liquor

Okay, so I know that hard-liquor is not allowed on the camping grounds at Coachella. At first I was a little bit miffed, but let me preface this by saying that I now understand why they have this rule. It’s really hot in the desert, and dehydration is always a possibility. DRINK LOTS OF WATER!

Now, as for liquor, this year (2012) we were allowed to bring a case of beer (cans only) each. We opted for no beer (they sell that on the grounds) and brought liquor (vodka and rum) instead. Get creative! We hid our vodka in water bottles, and the rum in 2 litre coke bottles.

4. Shower Trucks at night; Watering Hole during the day

The shower trucks were open 8am – 2pm, and 8pm – 2am. The line-up in the morning is long, and if you’re a woman, you’re going to wait at least 45 minutes in the morning.

Ashley and I opted to use the refill station in the morning to give ourselves a quick wash. We wore our bikinis, and brought a towel and soaked our hair and bodies in the refill station tub (quickly, of course) and did a quick wash to get us through the day. Then, after the last show (around 12am) we would head over to the shower-trucks (practically empty that late at night).

Seriously, this was the better way to go. Why shower in the morning when you’re going to get sweaty 5 minutes later when you step outside? Just sayin’!

5. Be friendly with your neighbours

We’re Canadian, so we’re naturally friendly (HA!).

Seriously, we were pulled-over twice during our drive down the west-coast, and both times all four of us in the car thanked the officer after he gave us our ticket!

Getting to know your neighbours not only creates a possible new friendship, but also gives you access to things you may have forgotten! We didn’t bring a gazebo, but our friendly L.A. neighbour Becca offered us her camping spot (she camped in her car) and also joined in with us as we made our own shelter! Without her, we all would have fried to death in the sun day one!

Team-Goose under our man-made Gazebo - Coachella 2012

6. Have a land-marker!

It’s easy to get lost at Coachella, and not only on the grounds. There are a TON of campers, and it all starts to look the same. Thankfully, each row corresponds to a street (ours was 108 st). But, to make your life easier, bring a land-marker. People brought blow-up monkeys, put arrows on the ground in tape, and put-up flags.

We opted for a flag. This also explains why we were named “Team Goose”

Team Goose - Coachella 2012

7. Fashion vs. Comfort

Coachella 2012 was all about fashion this year. Every fashion blog I read leading up to our trip featured the best and worst of Coachella Fashion. I’ll admit that I got caught up in the excitement, but after having to survive 105 degree Fahrenheit I have to say that comfort comes before fashion.

  • Wear comfortable shoes. We wore sandals during the day, and boots at night for dancing (we didn’t want to get stepped on!)
  • Wear weather appropriate clothing! If it’s cooler, where a sweater. If it’s hot, wear as little as possible (seriously, we walked around in our bikinis most of the time). Wear a hat at all times and bring cheap sunglasses!
  • Bring a small purse (girls) or a small backpack (guys) or nothing at all. Carry as little as possible. You can buy water for $2 once you’re in the grounds, and if you’re worried about money then just use the refill stations.

8. Use the cooling-tents

Day 1 and 2 we found ourselves suffering by 10am from the extreme heat. Unfortunately this resulted in missing day-time shows that otherwise we would have liked to see. Thankfully, by Day 3, we discovered the many cooling tents on the grounds. There was a Heineken tent with $7 small draft, loud music and air conditioning; a DJ tent that had couches and air-conditioning; and multiple other tents promoting different products, and all offering a break from the heat.

Take advantage of these tents! They help to keep you cool, hydrated and happy during the long-days of Coachella. You don’t want to end up like us, trying to catch shade under our cars.

Boys in the shade - Coachella 2012

9. Choose a meeting spot

It’s easy to lose your friends while at Coachella. So, here are some tips on how to stay together.

  • Choose a buddy! If you’re going with more than one person, choose “the one” that you will not stray from. Then, promise each other that if you become separated you will immediately head to an agreed meeting spot.
  • Agree to watch all of the shows from the same spot. We had a group of 7, and it was hard to stay together. We all agreed to watch “stage left”, and because of this, we seemed to almost always run into each other at the shows. It worked perfectly!
  • Bring a chalkboard! We didn’t want to use our cell-phones (roaming charges), so we used a small chalkboard at the site. It was a good way to communicate. For instance, when a few of the guys were off on their own, they left a note saying “Main stage between speakers A2 and A3 for Radiohead”. Sure enough, we found them there a few hours later!

10. Do-Lab

Do-Lab - Coachella 2012

Dub-step, constant misting and water-guns…need I say more? Find this in the middle of the grounds, and if it’s as hot as it was during weekend 2, Coachella 2012, you’ll want to visit it every half-hour.

Hope this helps some of you while you plan your trip for Coachella 2013.

Have you been to Coachella? Do you have any tips you would like to add?

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