Camping Festivals 101

So you’ve decided to camp this year at a festival? Whether you’re a veteran raver or a first timer, camping is a totally different experience from commuting to the festival from your home or staying at a hotel. The camping experience at a festival allows for you to enjoy every moment of the festival to its fullest as you’re literally sleeping onsite, so the party never stops! 

That being said, getting proper sleep, nutrients (eat more than one chicken nugget people!), and hydration is essential With this guide you’ll be prepared to have the ultimate festival experience while simultaneously staying safe (and in some instances dry!). 

If your friend group has a Rave Mom or Rave Dad, show them this guide! If that’s you, then perfect let’s jump right in and get you prepared for the 2024 festival season!

Preparations & Considerations 

Of course, every festival is different when it comes to what you can and cannot bring in, weather conditions, and how to get there, so keep that in mind with this list. Additionally, you must consider where the festival is, if you’re flying overseas or even to Electric Forest, you may need to arrange picking up your camping supplies there or opting for a pre-set up or luxury camping option. 

A major consideration is also the weather. There is a huge difference between camping at Nightmare Festival in Maryland in October compared to camping at EDC Vegas in May. Keep an eye on your weather app on the days leading up to the festival and be prepared for rain, extreme heat, and wind.

The main takeaway from this article is to plan and be prepared. 

Here is a quick list of questions to ask yourself before you start packing: 

  • Where is the festival? 

    • Is it on a beach? In a forest? In a park?

  • What is the weather going to be like? 

    • If you’re preparing to attend a festival in Washington State, the United Kingdom, or the Netherlands, prepare for rain! 

    • Going to the desert? Like EDC Vegas or Burning Man? Prepare for hot days and chilly nights. 

  • How are you getting there? 

    • Public transit? Car? Plane? 

  • How many people will be camping with you? 

    • Going alone? Then you need to bring everything! 

    • Traveling with a squad? Start that group chat now! 

What do I pack? 

Once you’ve gotten clarity on the aforementioned questions, now you’re ready to pack! I’ve prepared this organized list (yes, I am that friend in the group) so you don’t have to! 

Essential Camping Pack List

At a high level you should bring: 

  • A tent (depending on the size of your group, if it’s just you and one friend then pop-up tents are an easy way to go!)

  • Supports for the tent (ensuring your campsite is affixed into the ground is necessary! I’ve seen many of tents fly away)

  • A tent cover (if you’re anticipating rain)

  • A tarp for under the tent 

  • Sleeping gear: sleeping bag, air mattress or sleeping pad, pillows, blankets, etc. 

  • Lighting: lights for outside the tent, a flashlight, or head lamp (this is key for going to the bathroom late at night) 

  • A cooler (to store food and drinks) 

  • Garbage bags (leave no trace at the end of the festival, clean up your campsite!) 

  • A cart or some way to carry everything to the campsite especially if you don’t have a car

  • Tent lock (don’t forget the keys or combination!) 

  • Food & Drinks (see corresponding section) 

Personal items: 

  • Festival tickets & ID (Duh! But we all have that one friend, right?)

  • Baby wipes & hand sanitizer

  • Toiletries & something easy to carry them in 

  • Clothes (I always bring extra socks, an extra hoodie, and a bathing suit no matter what)

  • Shower shoes or flip flops 

  • Bug spray 

  • Sunscreen and aloe (or after sun) 

  • Bluetooth speaker  

  • LED mirror (for the influencer in the group or if you just want to get ready in your tent)

  • Power bank 

  • Power strip (if your campsite has electricity) 

  • Earplugs

  • Ponchos and back up ponchos – (Defqon 2017 in the Netherlands I had to  use all my ponchos to cover the top of my tent because the rain was so bad)

Food & Drinks 

So, what to bring when it comes to food? Some options to consider are sliced bread, peanut butter, protein shakes, bananas smoothies, yogurt, power bars, granola, think nutrient dense foods that will keep you full all day. If there is electricity at your campsite a hot water heater and ramen is your friend! Of course, some snacks are always great as well, I always go for bags of chips, a pack of cookies, and trail mix. Some festivals do allow portable camping stoves in which case go ahead and throw that meat and veggies to cook on the stove, bring a few veggie burgers for your vegan friend! 

Don’t forget to bring cutlery, napkins, and plates for your squad as well. For festivals less than three days, having a couple perishable items is okay in the cooler but for longer ones like that weeklong one in Hungary, stick to food that won’t go bad. Also please no tuna or smelly fish, you guys know who you are! Think of your fellow ravers. 

Regarding drinks, usually glass is not permitted at festivals so keep that in mind. Moreover, some festivals have rules as to the quantity of alcohol that is allowed but boxed wine is always the best bang for your buck and cans of beer. Obviously, alcohol does not count as staying hydrated! You have to drink water. Don’t forget to bring large jugs of water in addition to your own personal water supply (for instance don’t rely on just a hydration pack!).

Where to set up camp 

The final piece of being prepared for your first camping festival is setting up your tent and your campsite. The biggest tip I can give you is getting there early. Some festivals even offer the option to come a day early, if that’s an option than do that and still come as early as possible. Keep in mind things take longer sometimes than you expect, there could be traffic, a public transit strike (for those in Europe), or a long line for security.

A few pointers from someone who’s been doing this for more than 15 years, you want to avoid right next to a path or right by the toilets, however not too far away that it’s complicated to find. This is especially the case for a festival where everyone has the same sponsored tent for example Mysteryland in the Netherlands everyone has the same pop-up tent! 

Setting up camp by a major landmark is key. For example, some campsites have markers for the campsite numbers or maybe there’s a merchandise booth, a general store, the food and drink area, a silent disco etc. Picking some place with not so much foot traffic that you’ll be disturbed but that’s easy enough to find (even in the middle of the night on the last night of the festival when you’re exhausted!).

Once again, every camping festival is different so do your research with plenty of time leading up to the festival on what is permitted and what the weather conditions are going to be like. Setting up a group chat with your rave fam is a great place to get started and send them this guide so that you’re 100% prepared to have the ultimate camping experience this summer! 

– Amy Farina; IG: @MCUnicornOfficial

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