20 Coachella Tips & Tricks You Need to Know

tips for coachella
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tips for coachella survivalOh Coachella… hanging out with old friends, seeing your favorite bands, relaxing and partying in the Palm Springs area. It doesn’t get much better!

Related: What should I pack for Coachella?

But a weekend in the Desert can quickly be ruined if you’re not prepared for three days of partying in 100+ degree weather. Remember to take it slow, keep close with your friends and stay safe. Here are 20 Coachella tips to keep you going all weekend:

20 must-know Coachella tips and tricks

  1. Water, Agua, H20!
    This is the most important Coachella tip! Many Coachella rookies are so excited for their first weekend of Coachella that they forget to drink water! This can be particularly dangerous when mixing dancing, drugs and sun. A good rule of thumb is to drink at least 1 water bottle every 2 hours.  Coachella water sign
  2. Wear Sun block
    The sunshine and warm weather is what makes Coachella so much fun. But too many of my friends had a good day 1 turn into an awful day 2 and 3 because of a bad sunburn. Lesson learned: lather up! Waterproof SPF 50 is recommended.
  3. Comfortable shoes and clothes
    Many people forget this simple fact: you will be on your feet for at least 13 hours a day during the Coachella weekend. Trendy and fashionable shoes may seem like a cool idea for the first hour or so, but by the time it’s midnight you will wish you had worn something more practical. Also, many people tend to forgot that deserts get very cold at night. Always bring something warm for the night time. You will thank me for this one!
  4. Take a photo of your contact information
    If you plan on bringing a digital camera, make sure to snap a pic of your name and phone number. If someone finds your camera and peeks through your photos, they’ll know who to contact. Coachella seems to be one of the few places were 100% of the people are nice. Over the years at Coachella, I’ve lost my debit card, cell phone, ID and car keys. All items were returned to the lost and found!
  5. Buy merchandise on the first day
    The Coachella merchandise tent turns into a zoo everynight as all the fetival goers are heading for the exits. I’ve personally waited in a merch line for 30 minutes only to learn that the shirt I wanted was sold out. The trick here is to buy your merch at the beginning of the first day.
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  1. Have a physical meeting spot for you and your friends
    “The ferris wheel ticket booth”, “back left corner of the Mojave tent” and the “entrance to the Heineken beer garden” are all examples of unique physical spots that you can meet your friends should you get separated. See tip #7
  2. Text affirmative statements
    Cell phone reception at Coachella is spotty at best because rural Indio’s cell tower infrastructure was not designed to handle 85,000 cell phones in suchtext message at coachella a small area. So never text “where are you?” to a friend because it could be hours before they receive it. And when you get a response, your plans could have changed. Instead, text an affirmative statement like “meet at the merch tent at 8:00pm”
  3. Bring a small flashlight
    Not only is this an essential item for Coachella campers, but a small flashlight is very useful for the festival as well. Coachella veterans know that it is easy to lose your group of friends while walking through the crowds at night. If you have a flashlight (preferably one that blinks) the leader of your group can hold it up while walking through the crowds so that the rest of the group won’t lose site of him/her.
  4. Beware the beer garden
    If you’re trying to limit your spending, follow this Coachella tip! Drinking lot’s of alcohol and 100 degree weather don’t mix well. Save the boozin’ until the sun goes down. Plus, the $8 beers don’t feel too good on the wallet.
  5. Bring a positive attitude
    Everyone comes to Coachella to see their favorite bands and to have a good time. Accordingly, everyone is in a great mood (probably the best mood they’ll be in all year). Don’t bring eggy vibes and ruin other peoples good times. Think about the other festival goers and don’t be selfish. Don’t block other people’s view of the stage with a sign or your girlfriend on your shoulders. Don’t push and shove to make your way to the front of the stage. If you want to be up close for your favorite band, get their early!
  1. Bring Earplugs - The music is LOUD! Especially if you’re in the front row of the mainstage.  I never understood why people stand directly in front of the speakers in the Sahara without ear protection.  After All, that ringing in your ear after the festival is permanent hearing damage.If you want to be able to enjoy the music 30 years from now, you MUST wear ear protection at Coachella (and all other concerts).  I recommend the EarPeace HD Concert Plugs because they’re cheap and effective.  And they come with a free case.  These earplugs won’t muffle the music, but instead, bring it down to a reasonable and safe decibel level.
  2. Bring porta-pottie necessities - The Coachella porta-potties are notoriously dirty and smelly.  Stepping into a small human waste box that has been baking in 100°+ heat all day is quite an experience.  If you’re camping, be sure to bring extra seat covers (grab some from a local fast food restaurant on your way out to the festival), toilet paper, baby wipes and hand sanitizer.
  3. Be prepared for allergic reactions  - Bring your anti-allergy medicine because the dry dust and grass on the festival grounds irritates most people’s eyes and throat.
  4. Save your cell phone battery - It’s very annoying to lose your group of friends only to discover your cell phone is dead.  There are no charging stations in the festival grounds (but there are some at the campgrounds).  So, turn off your wi-fi, bluetooth, data and close all of your iPhone background apps.  You don’t need any of these battery draining features while you’re at the festival.  Enjoy the music, don’t sit around taking instagrams of the ferris wheel all day. If you really want to make sure you’ll have battery, get a Mophie battery back.
  5. Put medication in original bottle - Unless you want your allergy medicine to be mistaken for illegal drugs and thus confiscated by security, be sure to keep your meds in the prescription bottle.  Even worse still, you’re detained by the police for trying to smuggle drugs into the festival.
  6. Condoms & breath mints
  7. Leave for the festival early every morning - If you’re staying at a hotel or condominium, as oppose to camping, make sure to leave for the festival very early.  Traffic can get very congested around the Polo Fields.  I stayed at La Quinta Resort my first year (just a few miles away) and it took me almost 2 hours to get to the Festival.
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  1. Rent a locker - Non-campers should consider renting a locker (use this site to book a locker).  It’s a good idea to keep a warm sweater, or even jeans, in your locker so that you can beCoachella Tips Lockers prepared for the cold desert nights.  The locker is also a great place to store any beers that you might have snuck into the festival grounds.
  2. Remember it takes time to get from stage to stage - If there’s a band you really want to see, make sure you leave early to get there.  It can take a good 30 minutes to walk between the Sahara tent and the mainstage when it’s crowded.
  3. Don’t buy or sell drugs from/to strangers -  There are lots of undercover cops at Coachella looking to buy drugs from friendly festival goers.  Don’t let your weekend be ruined by spending a night in the Indio police station.  Besides, drugs are bad (see the Naked Wizard video below).  If you do find yourself in trouble with the law at Coachella, be sure to contact Forest Wilkerson, a La Quinta-based defense attorney who has experience in dealing with Coachella-related incidents.  Her office can be reached (available night and weekends) at 760-777-4322.  Save this number to your phone’s contacts now!
  4. Print out the setlist (bonus tip!) - Festival staff do hand out set time pamphlets, but don’t spend time looking for one.  Print out the set times before you arrive and highlight the artists you want to see.  Making a plan is the best way to maximize your time.

Still don’t have a wristband? Some Coachella tickets are still available at SeatGeek.com and other 3rd party sites. Beware of Craigslist, learn more about where to get a Coachella ticket.

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Evan is a recent graduate of UCSB and lives in Santa Barbara, CA. He loves sushi, traveling, music, surfing and any outdoor sports. You can reach him at evan[at]travelgrom.com and can follow him on Twitter and Instagram

3 Comments

  • Reply April 10, 2014

    Forest Wilkerson

    Thank you for the mention in the post above (item #20). You can see more about my criminal defense practice related to Coachella here:

    http://www.forestwilkersonlaw.com/practice-area/coachella-arts-and-music-festival-criminal-defense/

    Also, I put together a guide for avoiding legal trouble while enjoying festival:

    http://www.forestwilkersonlaw.com/doing-drugs-at-the-coachella-music-festival/

    Thanks!

  • Reply April 11, 2014

    Sam

    Overall great post. Especially agree with #11 — music here will literally wreck your eardrums. But to me Coachella is more about what goes on in between the concerts IMO. Highly recommend you don’t camp out — lot of bad people out their looking to prey on this vulnerability. My friends and I had a tent intruder last year, so talking from experience here.

    You are much better off pampering yourself off-site so you can enjoy the concert without worrying. Tons of places to rent a house or an apartment. I recently had a really quality Coachella experience with My Exclusive Properties, staying at a secure suburban house. In previous years I settled for a hotel — Trip Advisor is usually pretty good about that.

    Then there’s #17 — a super must. Leave as early as possible. Stay away from the late night stimulants people! The Polo Fields in Coachella are what I like to refer to as “The Killing Fields” with regard to traffic. So do yourself a favor and focus on beating the traffic.

  • Reply April 22, 2014

    Who Needs Maps

    This year had some of the most impressive stunts so far, although the lineup was not as good as some previous years the festival really delivered an amazing show.

    The one thing that we found was most important was hand sanitizer, it is only a small tube but really helps when showers are tough to find/lineup for or you are just about to eat.

    Great list of tips though, thanks!

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