13 Things to Pack for Coachella: Travel to Indio, California

Natalie Klein Coachella 2014 photo credit Natalie Klein for www.lifeofarockstar.com
Natalie Klein Coachella 2014 photo credit Natalie Klein for www.lifeofarockstar.com

If you’re thinking of attending Coachella and you have never been to the famed music festival before, here are 13 things to pack for rock star preparedness to enjoy the weekend of your life. Whether you’re doing Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival camping style or slipping in and out of your hotel at night, you will want these things in your bag/car/locker/ aka within reach.


#1 MAP
Wherever you need to go, shuttle, hotel, campground, market, or within the Coachella venue itself PRE MAP OUT your routes. Things can get confusing while you are in town, heat or exhaustion set in, and navigation may not be always the most effective when some streets (especially near the Empire Polo Field) can be closed off.

Face and body sunscreen need to be reapplied throughout the day and this not a paranoid dermatologist speaking. This is practical don’t fry yourself on day one or you will be miserable the rest of the weekend advice. (Bring alöe vera as well is not a bad idea just in case.) Even if you are wearing a hat and long sleeves, multiple reapplications of sunscreen are necessary. The spray on kind for the body is easiest to throw in your bag and will most likely be the fastest to reapply while you are on the run. No, you will not look like the dork with the skin protection, in fact, more than likely those around you will ask to borrow some spray.

#3 HAT
All day in the sun is brutal to the skin and hard on the eyes even with sunglasses. You will want a hat for a tiny bit of reprieve as shade is nowhere to be found at the main Coachella stage or the Outdoor Theatre stage. At night, that same hat might just keep you a tad bit warmer although a beanie is a good idea to have if the wind picks up to keep your hair from whipping around and you from freezing.

Pretend you are going to the Middle East and pack like that. A scarf to keep the dirt/sand out of your nose (even without a massive sand storm) is a must-have even on calm weather days. If the wind picks up, you will be sending thank you notes to our comment box. Any old handkerchief will do, although you will see more experienced Coachella attendees sporting actual fitted scarfs and face masks. The wind and the sand in the air will push its way up your nose, your mouth, into your ears and make breathing (especially for asthmatics) a challenge. A scarf is critical.

Natalie Klein Coachella 2014 photo credit: Natalie Klein for www.lifeofarockstar.com
Natalie Klein Coachella 2014 photo credit: Natalie Klein for www.lifeofarockstar.com

You will walk so so so much. Did we mention you will walk so so so much? Because you will walk so so so much. With general admission you will have about a three mile (40 minute) hike into the venue. Even with VIP parking, you are looking at a near mile walk in and then you will traverse the polo field from one stage / tent to the next all day long. Bring the most comfortable–a pair you could walk 12 miles a day in–shoes. If they’re cute, that’s a bonus. If they are not, WHO CARES? If your feet hurt you will want to leave early and what’s the fun of going to Coachella if you are only going to burn out and not see the headliners? Pack comfortable shoes.

Don’t expect to have a certain kind of fun but rather let the enjoyment of the carnival like atmosphere unfolds in its own way. The Coachella music festival experience is different for each attendee. Some will take mind altering drugs to enjoy the music, others will take something to relax them. Some will go in cold sober and walk away with an entirely different sensory response to the event. No matter what, have an open mind and remember these are long days. If something is not going your way, take a break–check out the ABSOLUT Little Sun booth–miss a show, have something to eat and then after recharging your batteries try again. There will be perfect moments and exhausting hours. If you bring an open mind, you will navigate the weekend in a way that allows you to enjoy all of it.

An amazing feeling of community, positive energy and spirit all come together at Coachella. There is no need to bring any aggressive behavior. Coachella and the power of music makes the weekend a cohesive and eye-opening time. There is no fighting, no pushing and most of all no judgement. Bring your friendly spirit to Coachella music festival and enjoy a weekend of being yourself, no questions asked. WARNING: YOUR LIPS WILL NEED CONSTANT REAPPLICATION OF CHAPSTICK AS A RESULT OF ALL THE SMILING (and the dry heat)! Have lip repair on you at all times.

Grouplove live on stage at Coachella 2014 photo credit: Natalie Klein for  lifeofarockstar.com
Grouplove live on stage at Coachella 2014 photo credit: Natalie Klein for lifeofarockstar.com

Build your playlist with artists playing the festival and in the lineup prior to attending so you can be familiar with the acts you are about to see. Make a music wish list off of that playlist and have an idea in advance what shows you are going to try and catch. While you are likely to change your mind and deviate from your own list at times, having a preset guide and timeline can make the weekend run more smoothly–especially if you are traveling with a large group. The last thing you want to do at Coachella is spend your time looking for your friends or debating with them. If you pre-agree on some acts throughout the day, you know you will have meet up points pre determined and unanimous agreement on which acts you all see together.

Water bottles this year (Crystal Geyser) are sold at various stations throughout the venue for $2 a piece. With the heat, you will go through perhaps one every hour or so–and really should have one on you at all times. If you are arriving at Coachella at 2:00 (for instance) and staying through the last act (which can run until 1:00 AM) you will need at least $20 in cash each day just for water. (And we mean NEED!) Food prices are not astronomical, but you will still want to have at least $10 per meal you will be eating from vendors. Cash is the easiest and quickest way to pay when you are running from show to show.

You will see it while you are there and think, “Why didn’t we bring something like that?” Large groups create a tall sign so that when crowds get thick, all in the group can just glance up and see their group leader. These signs range from just paper faces glued to the top of a stick to fancier neon light up items. Either way, the point is that they can be held up in the air with a unique look to separate themselves from the other group leader signs.

Your phone will die. It happens to the best of us. Even if you turn down the brightness of the screen and put it in airplane mode, it will die. It’s a long day followed by a longer walk back to the car. Pack a back up charger portable battery for your mobile device so that you can communicate with friends on site it without your phone battery dying. Remember to charge it at night so it is fresh and ready to go again the next day. While there are charging stations in various tents at Coachella, on the whole you will not want to be stopping to use them nor will your friends want to miss the next show while they wait for you to recharge.

A bathing suit is a perfectly acceptable outfit during the day and adorning it with cute flowers is a bonus. When it is 100+ degrees you will be much happier running around without much clothing on than if you have no escape from the heat. On the flip side, at night when the sun goes down even if the wind does not whip up you will want a sweatshirt or even just a top with sleeves to throw on and keep warm.

If cleanliness is at all important to you, bring a pack of baby wipes. You can use them to wash your hands, face, neck, clean off your feet–which will be black if you were any type of open toed shoe or sandal–and cool you down throughout the day.

Sign up for the shuttle as it can be the easiest way to get in and out of the venue. If you choose to park on site take a photo of the lot you have parked in and your view from your car of the carousal. TRUST US! You will be looking later at the end of the night wondering where you parked as it all looks the same. It is important to know exactly which lot you parked in as there are more than you can ever imagine.

Coachella Travel Review / Camping experience by Natalie Klein
Posted April 17, 2014

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