While it hurts when you hit purchase, your ticket isn’t necessarily the most expensive part of a music festival. You have the travel, the accommodations, your outfits, and whatever you need to buy for site set-up.
Obviously, there are some ways to make it cheaper, like camping instead of renting a hotel or Airbnb. With the ticket price included, you’re going to end up spending hundreds of dollars – if not a full thousand.
Now we can’t make Coachella prices any cheaper, but we can save you some cash with our music festival tips (both before you go and while you’re there).
Stick with us and get ready to save some serious cash.
Save Up in Advance
Saving money is hard. If it wasn’t all none of us would have to call our parents to make up the difference when our cars break down and randomly need $400 in repairs.
But there are ways to make savings easier, by automating it. Check out Banks like Simple, which is an online-only branch of BBVA Compass.
With this bank (and other such apps/programs) you can set up a savings goal. You set the amount you want to save, then decide if you want to contribute daily or with every paycheck.
For example, if Coachella is in six months, you could save five dollars a day and save up approximately $900 for your trip.
Making the saving automated helps you not “forget” to transfer money to your savings. You can set up more than one goal at a time, and the bank will automatically deposit the money from your main account.
Now yes, you will have to set up an account if you use this service. You’re opening a new bank account. But there are apps that link to existing accounts if you don’t want to do that.
Watch for 2-for-1 Deals Ahead of Time
If you’re driving to the music festival and bringing things like water and sunscreen, start stocking up early. Many stores do buy one get one free deal on things like waters, canned food, and even sunscreen all year round.
Start a little corner in your house or closet of music festival supplies and stock up.
If you wait until you get there to find that stuff, you’re going to pay way more. The stores near these music festival destinations aren’t stupid.
They know that they can raise their prices and that you’ll pay them, out of desperation and because you don’t know where else to go.
You also risk things being sold out, if it’s a seriously big music festival. If you’re going somewhere like Burning Man or Coachella, you want to have everything on site.
Both of these festivals are out of town so that forgetting something becomes a hassle rather than an annoyance.
If you’re really business minded, you could stock up and sell things like water and sunscreen to other festival-goers at a profit. Just make sure you don’t sell too many – otherwise, the law may consider you a vendor and you’d have to pay certain fees.
Bring Portable Snacks
When you’re out in the middle of the desert, or in a field in Tennessee, things get hot – fast. And food vendors usually serve hot food, which is always on the “Are you kidding me?” expensive side.
The last thing you’ll probably want after standing in the blazing hot sun for hours is a hot meal.
And festivals aren’t really culinary events, either. Sure, there’s always some sort of trending Instagram food to splurge on, but there aren’t designated meal times. You’re better off going on small meals more often schedule, than the traditional breakfast lunch and dinner routine.
For those small meals, you want something that you can carry with you into the heat and eat easily on the go. Calorie wise, they should be somewhere around 300 calories, depending on how many times you’re eating a day.
An apple and a cliff bar is a great way to fuel up when you’re out and about to go to a show. And both things are small enough for you to carry or throw in your fanny pack/backpack at the beginning of the day.
If you’re trying the eat small but often method, make sure you eat enough. You’re sweating a lot and burning calories walking/dancing, so you’ll need more calories than you’re used to.
You can always plan to eat what you find from the vendors – but you may want to start a separate savings account just for that.
These snack foods and bars get expensive if you’re buying them from a regular store, so try to make a trip out to a place like Sams Club or Costco to stock up.
You’ll spend less than you would per unit, and you can have enough to share with friends.
Bring Reusable Everything
If they make a reusable version of something, you should bring it to the shows. Especially water bottles – which vendors can charge whatever they want for.
There are places you can fill up bottles for free, but that means having one in the first place. Instead of buying and reusing the same dinky, crinkly, weak plastic water bottle all day, bring your own.
If you don’t want to carry something bulky around, there are collapsible bottles on the market. There are two main types, silicone pocket-like shapes, and expandable traditional-looking bottles.
The pocket-like shape ones are essentially what’s in the back of a camelback (which isn’t a bad choice for shows). It’s a plastic pouch where you can store water.
When the water is gone, it lays flat. Most have some sort of attachment on the rim or the nozzle so you can hang it from your lanyard, shorts, or bag.
And you’re going to need to keep it handy. When people die at music festivals (yes, it does happen) it’s mostly from dehydration and heat-related injuries.
On a normal day, you need to drink your weight time 2/3 in ounces. So if someone weighed 160 pounds, they need about 100 ounces of water each day.
But that’s on a day where they’re doing normal activities, not dancing and walking around in the direct sun. You should try to double your water intake at the festival – or get as close as you can.
Especially if you’re drinking alcohol or doing festival drugs that make your mouth dry and make you grind your teeth.
You’re not going to over-do it on the water unless you’re drinking it every minute of every day.
Make it a goal to fill up your water bottle every time you see a bathroom or water station. That should be enough of a reminder to drink what you have and refill before you go off to the next show.
Look at Your Pee
This one won’t save you money, at least, not up front. Piggybacking off of the last point, drinking enough water will keep you healthy during the festival days.
To check if you’re hydrated enough, look at the color of your pee. If you’re peeing in a portapotty- that can be difficult, but some festivals have newer, nicer, flushable kinds.
Your goal should be for your pee to be the color of hay. It should be notably yellow, like weak lemonade. If you get into the apple juice looking color range – you’re dangerously dehydrated. Hold off on the alcohol and replenish with water – now.
If you get so dehydrated that you pass out, you’re going to spend money on your health costs – if it’s that bad that the medics are called. And if it’s not that bad but you need to lay down for a little while, you’re wasting the money you spent on seeing the shows.
Make Your Site Cute, On a Budget
If you’re camping out and you’re going to be there for the duration of the festival, you can decorate your campsite. Look for LED neon rope lights if you have a generator, or opt for solar powered ones.
You can even get some cheap (but good enough for a weekend) little solar yard lights at the dollar store.
This sounds unnecessary, but after a long day of partying, it’s harder than you think to find the right campsite in the dark.
Using These Music Festival Tips
If you take anything from this article, let it be that you should stock up on things (like water) beforehand – and that you should drink a ton of it.
If you don’t make drinking water or putting on sunscreen priorities, no amount of music festival tips can save your experience.
Can’t quite afford a music festival but still want a fun summer adventure? Get inspired, here.