How to Survive a Music Festival: Save Money, Space; Sanity

Ready for Glastonbury?

In my festival lifetime I’ve been stuck in the mud, wet through, suffered an extreme break-out of mouth ulcers, bruised down one side of my body and lost for 6 hours. But I think I have just about reached festival purgatory with a delicate balance and finite know-how of what to take and what to leave behind. This is how I survive…

Apps make life easier

  • Tentfinder – GPS stamp the location of your tent at any festival and always find your way home.
  • Shazam music IDIf you just can’t remember the name of that tune.
  • Festival Star – Map festival sites and alerts when you need to hot-foot it to another stage to catch your favourite act.
  • John Haney Software Flashlight – No getting lost on your way to the loo in the dark.

Save space

  • Pillows, such extravagance. Instead, just pack an empty pillowcase and stuff it with clothes.
  • Girls, stock up on leggings! Cheap, light, disposable and if it gets chilly they go nicely under dresses, shorts and skirts.
  • You only need two pairs of shoes: wellies and cheap plimsoles.
  • Wet wipes will be your portable shower. Forget the 3-step cleansing, toning and mosturising routine.
  • Loads of plastic bags. Sit on them, put rubbish in them, stash muddy wellies in them, keep things dry, all this AND it’s a bag!


  • While your valuables might be covered by home contents insurance under ‘personal possessions away from home’, you must keep them on you. If they’re nicked from your tent you’re entitled to nothing.
  • Make a note of your mobile phone’s unique IMEI number (press *#06#) and quote this if your phone gets lost or stolen.
  • Buy an ever-fashionable bum bag, fanny pack, whatever you want to call this baby. It keeps your arms free for frantic waving to friends across the crowds and your valuables are safe. Don’t knock them ‘til you try ‘em.
  • Mark valuables with your mobile number. The person who finds it might be one of those ‘friendly types’.

Save money

  • Make travel arrangements in advance. Super cheap rail fares need to be booked exactly 12 weeks in advance. Or consider getting a 16-25 Young Person’s Railcard which gives you 1/3 off.
  • Loads of people advertise car shares and only ask for a contribution to petrol in return. Find willing souls through GoCarShare and FestivalBUDi.
  • Food is pricey so pack some biscuits, sweets, crisps and a few tins of fruitPot Noodles will become your best friend. Take a flask and sweet talk the tea and coffee vans. They’ll sort you out with some hot water.
  • Cashpoints charge a £2 transaction fee so try to take the right amount of cash with you. Allow about £5 per meal plus drinks.
  • Take an empty plastic bottle. Buying endless bottles of water is expensive but you can refill at water supply fountains.

Save time

  • Forget queuing for the phone charge points, you can be there for hours. Take a portable solar powered charger or a battery life extender which can double your talk time.
  • Customise your tent with a flag, banner, anything that stands out. All the campsites can look the same and you’d be surprised how many people have a floral tipi.
  • Wear bright colours so you’re friends can spot you more easily.
  • Bring a small flashlight to avoid tripping on those darn guy ropes at night.

Stay sane

  • Ear plugs. Yes I know you are going to a music festival! It’s the louts hollerin’ outside your tent at 5am that are the problem. Trust me.
  • Don’t pitch your tent next to the toilets, hot weather or a slight breeze can prove fatal. Oh, and don’t pitch next to a hedge. This is a prime spot for those who can’t be bothered to trek to the official toilets. ‘Did it rain last night’ you ask? No.
  • A dab of Vicks Vapour Rub under the nose or a scarf tied about your neck will make the trip to the toilets bearable.
  • A hat can hide a greasy head of hair or take some dry shampoo for a fragrant lift. Sunglasses will hide your tired eyes.
  • It gets cooooold at night. So pack jumpers despite a sunny forecast.

That’s all the wisdom I have. Got any festival tips to share?

Tell us your survival tips in the comments…

Thanks to burge5000,  lizjones112, erenemre and jeffadair for the images from Flickr. Please note, all images were used under the Creative Commons License at the time of posting. 

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