The Newbie’s Guide to Visiting Coachella

This post was posted by TheHipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on March 29th.

Coachella: Ask people to describe this music festival in a few words, and get ready to hear “life-changing” and “sweaty fun.”

This music festival has been around since 1999, featuring artists we still listen to today: Beck, Rage Against the Machine, and Ben Harper. Seventeen years later, and Coachella is going strong, hosting renowned artists like Madonna and Jay-Z and drawing in crowds in the hundreds of thousands.

This show is no walk in the park—er, desert. Held at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California (FYI: the nearest airport is Palm Springs), the venue is smack middle in the Colorado Desert, where temps can go as high as 106 F! And with it right around the corner—the first weekend show in April—here is everything a newbie needs to know to have a blast:



Preparing right.

Be the early bird. Make sure to buy a 3-day pass as early as possible, since Coachella often has the tendency to sell out. If going with a group, square away plans for housing too, so everyone can purchase tickets together. (There’s general admission, VIP, shuttle options, and lots of different ways to camp.)

Remember, though: Sometimes snagging a good sleeping option is harder than getting ticket. One of the most popular “lodging” options is to camp on-site, but spaces fill up fast. There are also off-site options too. For those looking to cozy up in a real room, a hotel in Palm Desert is a quick 20-minute drive from the main festivities.

Go with pals. Coachella is a social experience, and it’s always nice to share an experience like this with friends. Find a group of people who are flexible, responsible, and up for an adventure, but don’t be afraid to split up so everyone can see what they want.



Stay safe and comfy.

Wear sunblock. There’s no getting around this one—the sun is going to be strong in the desert. Wear sunblock, and remember to layer on every few hours. Don’t forget chapstick that has an SPF rating as well!

Drink water. And then some more, and then some more. Staying hydrated in the heat is key, especially if drinking alcohol and standing up all day. Bring an empty water bottle (just make sure it’s not metal), and fill it up often throughout the day.

Wear comfortable shoes. This is a no brainer, but keep the heels and leather dress shoes at home. Wear shoes or sandals that will let the feet breathe and stay cool, but are also super supportive.

Drink (alcohol) slowly. While drinking all day might be tempting, remember to take it slow. Drinking in the heat can dehydrate people a lot faster, so if someone is going to imbibe, it’s better to wait until the sun has gone down.

Think about allergies. Being in the desert means dust and dry grass—so everyone, whether susceptible to allergies or not, might start being irritated by it. It’s better to be safe and sorry, so bring along some anti-allergy medicine. On a similar note…

Pack your meds right! There’s a good chance any pills on hand will be confiscated by security if it’s not in its prescription bottle. (Nobody wants allergy meds mistaken for illegal drugs!) Whether over-the-counter or prescription meds, all should stay in its original home so it’s not taken away.

Prepare for the porta-potties. The bathroom sitch is infamous for being not the cleanest experience. Be prepared with extra toilet paper, baby wipes, and hand sanitizer to keep the ickiness factor down a notch.

Top-secret Pro-tips.

Print out the lineup schedule. There will be a lot of shows to see, so it’ll often be hard to keep track of them all. Print out the lineup and stash it in a pocket, or take a screenshot of the day’s schedule on a smartphone.

Phone service is unreliable. Similarly, be prepared for little to no phone service. Make a game-plan with friends for where and when to meet (go to the beer garden at 8PM!) in case it’s hard to reach one another by texting or calling. It’s also wise to bring a backup battery to recharge a cell phone, since the weak signal will drain it quickly.

Be early. Be the first to buy the merch, since many t-shirts and other artist merchandise tend to sell out quickly. Same with the shows themselves; get to the stage early instead of trying to push up to the front.

Be yourself! Coachella is also a time to let loose and bring a positive energy to the table. Everyone is there for a good time, so endure the heat, combat the smelly bathrooms, and just have fun.


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