I was in High School the first time I heard of Coachella. Friends and I were planing to go to Stagecoach, a country music festival also held at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, CA. From that year on I remember fantasizing about going to the huge music & art show in the desert. I bought tickets in 2012.
Since then, I haven’t missed a show! Throughout the years, I have learned a few things that make the experience so much better. What some people don’t realize is that these events are HUGE. The weather, crowds, transportation, & your accommodations all play a giant part in how your weekend is going to go. Not to mention your attitude & expectations when these things get a little out of hand. My wardrobe is also something that has evolved since my first show. I’ve learned that while some trends are worth sporting, others can be more of a pain. So without further ado, here is my guide to Coachella!
How To Make The Most Of Your Time At The Venue
Once you’re in the venue the first thing I like to do is get a lay of the land. I love getting a feel for what there is before I head to the first artist of the day. Every year there are different art exhibits & things to see. I tend to find these installations the most exciting part of the weekend because you have no idea what they are going to be! Plus if you go in early, there are less people in your photos 😜!
Another thing to note is that the venue is kinda a circle. One of my favorite things to do is start at one stage, walk in for a few songs, then head to the next, making my way around the festival! You’ll find that similar artists will be at the same stage. The Gobi is where I have discovered some of my favorites. Learn more about the different stages & areas in part 2 of my guide to Coachella!
They also have real restrooms! The restrooms have two rows of stalls, most people do not check the back row, so you can usually find an empty stall there! The tables outside are a great meeting spot too. My friends & I always pick a landmark (or lamp) to meet at all weekend after we use the restroom.
The app is also great for keeping track of artists. I like to set my schedule as my phones lock screen wallpaper so I don’t waste time scrolling on my phone. Another good thing to grab is the schedule booklet, they make it really easy to keep track of where & when everything is. Each stage will also have a set times posted at sign in the back.
What To Wear
Coachella fashion is so fun. Some years I will see something months in advance & get it knowing it’ll be perfect for the festival. Last year  was the first year I made my own outfits. It is such a fun place to show off something you love. Or rock an outfit that is a little more on the crazy side. I always take advantage of it! Plus there are so many small unique brands out there! Coachella, after all, is a music & ART festival, so I think it is great place to support these designers & rock something one of a kind!
Comfort is Key!
I also like to have a balance of comfort & practicality when it comes to my festival wardrobe. My main accessory is a watch or FitBit & hat. In 2017, I walked 19 miles on day 1 & 16 miles day 2 & 3! So having a comfy change of clothes to put on once the temp drops is a must.
For me, long days of dancing means I need comfortable shoes too. I love wearing a fun pair of running shoes so my feet are happy all day long & I always bring a sweatshirt. It can be really hot during the day, but the wind makes it chilly at night. Plus sunglasses & bandannas can help protect you from the dust that will inevitably cover your body throughout the weekend.
What To Pack
I like bringing a few personal or “self care” items with me inside the venue. A refillable water bottle is a must. I like this Vapur one because it is easy to fold up & put in your pocket or bag, plus it has a carabiner clip! Having a camel back type bag is great too (especially if you can have a guy to carry it for you!) The past few years I have used a GoRuck or a lightweight waterproof Patagonia backpack . They are super sturdy & have just the right amount of pockets. I’ll put my jacket, a few snacks like granola bars, beef jerky, & energy chews in there. I also bring a few personal care items with me. Peppermint essential oil, sunscreen, chap stick, gum, band aids, tissue packs, a fan, & hand sanitizer with me. The peppermint oil feels great on the back of your neck or sore muscles, it smells good, keep you cool, & is easy to share with new festival friends!
For photos, I like to bring my Nikon D3300 & a go pro. I love photos so it is worth it to me to have a quality camera. But it does get obnoxious. I rented a locker this year  so I don’t have to have it on me the whole time. I always put an extra batteries in my bag & bring a portable charger for my phone.
Where To Stay
You have a few different options for where you can stay at Coachella. You can camp, get a hotel, rent an AirBnb or VRBO, RV, or if you’re lucky, find a friend who has a house.
The cheapest & most convenient option is for sure camping. Just BE PREPARED. It gets HOT! By about 6 or 7am the sun is beating down on your tent. The campsites are also a major party area. So it can be pretty loud & lively all hours of the day & night. I enjoyed camping when it was just my boyfriend & I. We had friends camping in a big group so whenever we wanted to hang out, we went over to their campsite. Keeping ours as more of a quite place to chill. Just be sure to bring trash bags & secure your campsite. It can get very windy. I have seen entire easy ups blow away (& hit cars).
I like to use a small luggage lock to keep the things in the tent safe. I also find it convenient to leave my car keys inside a pocket in the tent so I always know where they are & dont loose them.
If you want to get a good camping spot, get there early. The sooner you arrive, the closer to the entrance you will be. If you are planning to camp with friends, make sure you arrive together to get a spot next to one another. For food we brought way to much stuff. It was so hot we didn’t want to cook anything. Plus the festival has so much food you’ll want to try. I’d suggest bringing snacks & backpacking meals so you don’t have to worry about cooking or keeping things cold. I love having things like apples, bananas, watermelon, jerky & trail mix. My other tip for campers is to take the shuttle to the grocery store! It is free & you can get stuff at Ralph’s or just enjoy a little air conditioning. You can also make a reservation to have your hair done at the Beauty Bar in camping area, just be sure to tip!
Last year I stayed at a hotel for the first time. It was really nice having a clean & air conditioned room to go back to after a long day (plus a lazy river!) If you can afford it & don’t get stressed over things like time, I’d say getting a hotel & a shuttle pass is the way to go. The shuttles can take a little while depending on what time you are trying to get on one, but they are way easier & overall cheaper than trying to get an Uber. Last year Uber was a mess, there were girls crying because it was so hard to get one. We snuck out the parking lot & ran about a mile to get ours.
The first few times I went to a festival my family & friends rented a house in PGA West. PGA West is a golf community in La Quinta, CA about 5 min from the venue. It is super pretty but you do need to figure out your own ride to & from the venue. One time I walked it, but that was a little to tiring after a long day of dancing. I will be staying here this year. My plan is to ride a bike to & from the festival so I don’t have to deal with traffic or getting a ride.
Having a house is pretty much the same as getting a hotel, minus the room service. However, I wouldn’t recommend packing it to the brim with people to make it as cheap as possible. Every time I or a friend has done this, it just leads to drama & you kinda lose that whole relaxing factor of being away from the venue.
Be Kind, Make Friends, & Enjoy The Show!
Most importantly, Coachella is all about having a good time. If things don’t work out perfectly, don’t let it get to you! If your friends want to see a different show, let them! You can always find friendly people to dance & enjoy the event with. My biggest piece of advice is to go with the flow & see where it takes you. Some of my favorite sets were ones I never planned on seeing. If your standing in line & connect with the person next to you, ask who they are excited about, they may become your new favorite artist!
Happy Coachella! Have a safe trip!