It’s finally time for that music festival you’ve been thinking about since the tickets first went on sale months ago. Now it’s time to start planning—what to bring, what to expect, which shows you need to make it to. But first, you’ve got to actually get to the venue. Road trips can be tons of fun with the right group of people, but sometimes it can be stressful when you have to make a long trip before you even get to the event. Make sure you’re prepared to hit the road with our music festival road trip checklist. The last thing you want is to have to turn around after an hour of driving because you realized you forgot the tent. Trust us, you’re definitely going to need that.
What to Pack for the Trip
Food and Snacks
This one’s important. If you’re camping at the music fest, you’re probably planning to do some of your own amateur-level cooking. Pretty much every music fest has tons of food trucks and food vendors during the day, but they might be far from your campsite or totally gone by the time you’re craving a late night snack. Channel your inner boy or girl scout and let your outdoorsy-ness out.
Don’t worry about trying to get fancy with your meals. Pack some ramen (because all you need is boiling water, and you can definitely handle that), protein bars and oatmeal. Non-perishable items are your best friends when camping at a festival. You’ll probably be spending your days wandering between stages or jamming to your fave artists, so don’t even try bringing food that needs to be on ice like bacon or eggs. If you need fresh food, you can head to the food trucks during the day. Be sure to pack a whole lot of snacks too for when the late-night munchies hit–and to snack on during the car ride.
Somehow, fashion has become a huge part of music festivals in the last few years, but this is Bonnaroo, not a runway show. Don’t worry so much about having the perfect outfits as bringing stuff that you’ll be comfortable in. Casual clothes for men and women are the only real type of clothing you need. It’s a music festival—you’ll get at least a few splashes of beer spilled on you. Leave the nice clothes at home and think comfort. You’ll probably also want to pack some beach clothes because musical festivals can get real hot after hours of dancing in the sun. Bikini tops are a pretty normal outfit choice for women paired with jeans or skirts. Men can throw on a pair of quick-dry shorts to help stay cool and sweat less when you’re packed into the crowd of other people.
Assuming that you’re going to a festival with a campground, you’re going to need to bring a lot of things with you. Unless you’re super fancy and decided to splurge on a glamping option (we’re not judging, just jealous). Glamping usually includes basically everything you need for the weekend, like a bed in an adorable teepee tent.
But, if you decided to give the general admission camping a go, we’re just letting you know right now, you’re going to need a lot of equipment. The tent being the most important, obviously, and preferably one with a rain fly. Since you probably bought your tickets months ago, there’s no way to know for sure if it’s going to rain all weekend. It’s better to be prepared with a waterproof rain fly to put over your tent and protect you from some of the rain and wind. Also, put a tarp under the base to try and stop any water from soaking into the tent from the ground.
Besides your tent, you’ll want camping chairs for hangin’, a camping stove or burner for cooking, some camping utensils like bowls, pots and maybe plastic spoons or forks and flashlights. And please, please, don’t forget the bug spray and sunscreen for your own good.
Tips for the Road Trip
Take Turns Driving
If the festival is a pretty far drive, you really should try to switch turns driving with others in the car. Road trips can be exhausting, even if you’re just sitting and pressing a pedal for a few hours, and it’s not fair if one person shows up to the fest extra tired from taking one for the team and driving the whole way. Switching turns will keep everyone awake and let the driver sit back, relax and get pumped for the weekend ahead.
Give Yourself Plenty of Time to Get to the Festival
Okay, we’ll admit it. We’ve definitely made this mistake before. You might think that you’ve planned the perfect amount of time to get to the festival, but road trips almost always end up taking longer than you expected. Accidents, frequent bathroom stops and construction are all very real things that can delay your trip. You really should plan to get to the fest several hours before the event starts, just in case. Be warned: If you’re getting there at the exact time the campgrounds open, you’re definitely going to be waiting in a line. Sometimes it makes more sense to show up later in the day after the rush has died down. But then you run the risk of missing the first few shows of the day.
Pass the Time with Car Games and Podcasts
On a long road trip, music can get old fast. Especially once you start to notice that your library is replaying songs. Switch things up by throwing on a podcast. Seriously, when we drive with a podcast on, time passes unbelievably quickly and we feel a lot more engaged, meaning less likely to start getting sleepy on the road. Car games are another way to involve the passengers and get everyone excited for the weekend. Try playing some of our favorites like the Alphabet Game (try to get through the entire alphabet by finding words on street signs) or 20 Questions.
Music festivals are one of the best parts of summer (you know, besides boat days and beers by the beach). Make sure you’re super prepared for your music fest trip this year by checking (and double checking) that you’ve got all the camping essentials and the right beach clothes to say comfy and cool. Then when it’s time to hit the road, share the driving responsibilities and leave yourself plenty of time to get to the venue. Start the weekend off strong and you’ll have a kickass weekend to remember.