How to Prepare for a Music Festival

Being prepared for a music festival is the difference between having a good time and having an amazing, life-changing time. This list is based off what you can fit in a 4-door sedan with two people driving. So let’s go over some stuff to make sure you are prepared for your next music festival! 

First things first: what are the physical essentials every person should bring to a music festival?

Shot by Zach Sanders

Reusable Water Bottle/Camelbak

Hydration is key. No need to bring 300 water bottles with you; maybe pack one case for camp, but when you’re inside the fest nothing is better than saving $5 on a bottle of water. You can get one from Walgreens or Target for about $10. My personal favorite is the Nalgene.

Sometimes the water inside the fest isn’t the best-tasting thing on Earth. I like to get a thing of powdered Gatorade or some type of flavored electrolyte (it’s what plants crave). Getting those electrolytes will help you stay energized throughout the day. Nuun is great for your energy/vitamin/electrolyte needs.

Baby Wipes 

Trust me, this is almost as important as water. When you get back to camp after a long day of dancing and sweating, but you can’t get the energy together to hike to shower, this is the next best thing. Also porta potties, they get rough, people pee on the toilet paper (not really sure why), so it’s a nice little luxury to have. Plus one ply stuff does nothing to help clean up the three Gouda Boy egg rolls, two slices of spicy pie, and seven Amish doughnuts you decided to eat that weekend.

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This is kind of a no brainer. You’re bringing food; you’re bringing drinks. Keep that shit cold. I suggest bringing one cooler for just ice: get two things of dry ice and put them in the middle. In the other cooler put food and drinks; add ice as needed. By day three you should still have some nice ice to be moving cooler to cooler.

Hand Sanitizer  

Music festivals are dirty. We sweat, we lay on the ground, we sweat some more, we go into porta-potties, we sweat in there. Grab a few small ones to give them to your group.

Tent or EZ UP with Cots 

Tents get hot, like really, really hot as soon as the sun comes up (looking at you, Bonnaroo.) You will wake up covered in sweat. So I personally suggest an easy-up or something similar with some tapestries or tarps for shade. Get yourself a cot or an air mattress and sleep on that. Grab some tapestries or sheets to hang off the side of your EZ- UP, it will help provide some much-needed shade. You’ll thank me when you sleep past 7 am.


Some fold-up camping chairs. They’re chairs; you know what to do with them

Plaze 3 House of Yes – Photo by Bryan Edward

Music Festival Survival

Ok, so you have some shelter and water, and your hands and the rest of your body are cleanish. What about food? If you plan on cooking a lot, make sure your camp (and the festival) can support it. If you are like most festival-goers, you will have a cooler with some food and an assortment of nonperishables. Obviously, your list will vary from mine, but these are my go-to music festival foods.

Uncrustbales/PBJ Sammies 

I live off these things. They’re cheap, require minimum prep, have carbs and protein, and they’re delicious.

Beef Jerky 

Doesn’t go bad, doesn’t take any prep, delicious.

Fresh Fruit/Veggies

You need those vitamins!

Trail Mix/Chips/Other Delicious Snacks

Great to snack on at camp; bring some little bags with you and stick them in your pocket/backpack. Always a good idea to have some power-ups during the day.

Gum/Starburst/Jolly Ranchers

 Anything sweet; it’s great to enjoy in between sets. Sharing is caring: hand out some stuff to people around you when waiting for the next band. Great way to meet people and share the love.

Bread/Lunch Meat 

Sammy sams, sammies, whiches; it’s key. Cheap, easy to make, easy to bring inside. 

Beer/Liquor (If you drink)

I’ve brought way too much to some fests and not enough to others. I still don’t know what the magic number is. Never hurts to have some extra! It will let you share the goodness with your neighbors!

Photo by Yvonne Gougelet – Okeechobee Music Festival

Good Things to Bring to Your Next Music Festival

So what about non-essentials? Extra stuff to add to your experience/comfort. I’m not talking about drugs; we all know there are no drugs at music festivals. Don’t ask people about it on social media. They will tell you the same thing.

Disposable Camera

They’re nice and cheap; physical pictures are awesome.

Pedialite/Emergen C

We push our bodies more than on a normal day. This will help you get back to normal in the morning.


Headaches, upset stomach, and heartburn happen; be prepared. You don’t want something simple to mess up your day.


If you’re a smoker make sure you bring enough to last you. You’ll probably smoke more than you would on a normal day. You don’t want to buy a pack inside (usually around $15-20).


Do you like staring into the sun? No? Do you like feeling like a  you accidentally laid in a fire? Me either.

Baby Powder/Goldbond

Just do it.

Solar Charger/Car Charger

Don’t want your phone dying, right? Make sure you have the right chargers for your situation.

Comfy Shoes

I’m a barefoot or flip-flop guy on any other day. At music festivals make sure you have a good pair of shoes. Your back, your feet and your legs will thank you.


Not just to help protect you from the sun but also to keep that dust away. Festivals get dusty! You breath it in, you will get sick afterwards. Last year at Roo was the first time I made a conscious effort to put a bandana over my mouth/nose throughout the day. It saved my life. No festival flu. Amazing.

Photo by Yvonne Gougelet – Okeechobee Music Festival

Are you Prepared Yet?

So obviously this isn’t a complete list. Even though I’ve been to a decent amount of festivals, I always check the list below before going. Print it out, give it to your friends, and make sure each other is prepared. This is a marathon, not a race. Give your body food, give it water, take naps, sleep, rest, dance. Get your body ready, guys and gals; try to do some walking/exercise a few weeks prior. Before you go out for the day, do some stretching.

Print out this music festival checklist! It has saved my butt countless times in the past. I never go to a fest without checking the list.

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