Is the preparation always so stressful?
As the summer season has started in full force, thousands of young people will be cramping in three-door cars, queuing in the blazing sun to enter their first ever festival. The excitement takes over, the smell of sun-cream and warm beer covering the campsite. It is only once everyone has set their chairs in a circle, that the first-person shouts “I forgot my power bank”.
While camping festivals create good communities and aim to provide any necessity you might have forgotten, it is always cheaper and easier to come prepared – plus time is precious and if you are going to a big festival like Boomtown or Glastonbury, you might be sick of walking around already.
1. Comfort items
While space might be an issue, the next 3 or 4 nights you might wish you used more of it in order to get a good sleep. There are the standards:tent, sleeping bag, pillow (inflatable pool pillows are small and comfortable enough) but there are small touches which will make camp sleeping easier.
My main two are eye-masks and earplugs. Camps tend to be loud all the way through, with the exception of maybe a few hours between 4 AM – 8 AM. Even then, you might be un-lucky and end up next to a very excited group, with no need to sleep. Partying late and being in the sun all day will take a lot of energy out of you, so resting well is essential. Oh, and pack joggers and a jumper. British nights are just as cold in heatwaves as they are all year round.
2. Squeaky clean
Camping festivals are, for most people, quite dirty. Most offer options such as glamping and shower tokens, which are always good for people going with young children, or those who can afford the little extras. For most campers, the following will keep you clean enough: wet wipes, hand sanitiser, toothbrush, and toothpaste. By day two the toilets will be on/off stocked so pack tissues and consider that one roll might not be enough for the whole group.
A towel and a small bottle of shower gel will always do wonders if you go to the taps early enough – last festival I went to, people were filling plastic water bottles and leaving them out in the sun, making the most of the small space on the edge of the camp where a wet swimsuit almost counts as a full shower.
3. The things you might not think of
Festival food is amongst some of the best street food, but there is a way to make your experience slightly cheaper. Some festivals have charity tents, or other places that can provide you with hot water, making a pot noodle the easiest meal to get you through a few of the hours.
While the main stages are going to be well lit, the walk back after the final set will be dark, so bring a torch, preferably a mini one to fit in your pocket.
A windbreaker is not only a style choice, but also the easiest garment to wrap around your waist when you over-heat, and put on if the weather turns. Similarly, wellies could be a good addition, as there is nothing worse than muddy trainers for four days.
Finally, a side bag is an essential, ideally a bum-bag that sits safely on your waist. It’s recommended you take your valuables with you such as your phone, wallet, perhaps the key for your lock-pad if you bring one. As you might not return to your camp for hours on end, the bag can hold your tissues and hand sanitiser, and if you bring a carabiner clip, you can even attach your water bottle to it.
Packing is a stressful event, but with some organisation, your first festival can go smoothly- and if it does not, you will just know better next time.
Why not check out a creative spin on the British festival experience?
Photograph1 and 3 are part of the author’s personal collection. Photograph 2, credit to Jason Wong, through The backpacking site.