Cultural Experience | California

Your Coachella Checklist

What to Bring, How to Get There, and Where to Stay.


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When the lineup for the Coachella Music and Arts Festival was released last week, the internet was soon buzzing with activity as people discussed the musical acts, including an Outkast reunion- yes, you read that correctly, Outkast is getting back together for one weekend at Coachella.

For those who aren’t up to date on the music festival circuit, Coachella is held annually in Indio, California for two weekends in April. The festival attracts thousands of visitors every year, many of whom camp out in the desert to see not only their favorite bands but the bevy of celebrities who flock to Indio. Lydia Park, from Orange County, California, attended the festival in 2009 and 2010, when it was just starting to gain national attention. Her favorite acts included Jay Z, Vampire Weekend, Passion Pit, and The Temper Trap; most of these acts gained fame by performing at Coachella.

If you are planning on attending Coachella, or even just dreaming about it, here are a few tips and tricks to make your weekend as incredible as possible.

How to Get There

• Indio is roughly two hours from Los Angeles, which makes it difficult to commute back and forth from the festival every day. Even if you are planning on attending for only one weekend, it is better to stay somewhere near the festival grounds.

• Most people drive, and carpooling with friends is a preferred option. Coachella’s website even features a forum for people searching for carpool or camping companions.

• If you haven’t yet booked a flight to California, your options are Palm Springs, which is the closest but definitely the most expensive, or LAX, which is probably your best option.

• You can check the forum for a carpool from LAX or even take a bus down to Indio.

• The festival offers various buses from hotels in the area, as well as the numbers of taxi and car rental services. Most people choose to park at the festival, which brings us to…

Where to Stay When You Get There

Unless you live in the area or plan on getting a hotel- most of which are pretty far from the festival grounds and fill up fast– camping near the festival grounds is probably your best and most cost-effective option.

• For on-site camping, Coachella offers everything from tent spots next to your car to an entire camping area, or to luxury teepees on the shores of Lake Eldorado, as well as high-end ‘Safari Tents’ featuring air-conditioning, showers, and golf cart shuttles to and from the music stages.

• However, unless you are a celebrity or are willing to spend a lot of money on your weekend, tent camping is probably your best option.

• Off-site camping is also available for recreational vehicles, with some offering shuttles to the festival grounds.

• Just keep in mind that the shuttle pass will cost you extra, but so will taking a taxi every day or renting a car. Take some time to do the math and figure out your best option.


Coachella has very strict rules for campers, including

• Lock down from 10 pm to 2 am that prevents cars from leaving,

• Noise curfew at 1:30 am.

• Rules range from no metal tent stakes to no Tiki Torches to no animals allowed.

• One of the most important rules for attending Coachella is to remember that everyone is there to have fun and see their favorite bands and discover new acts. Be respectful of everyone around you, and they should do the same!

The on-site camp grounds offer showers, wifi, charging stations, and even a farmers market. So even if you spend the weekend sleeping in the trunk of your car with your friends, at least you can take a shower.

Lydia Park rented a house with a few friends in the area, but spent some time with other friends in their RV or at a car campsite. It is easy to move between sites and meet up with all of your friends who may be attending. Back then, the festival was also just one weekend, making it easier for anyone to travel to Indio. Park carpooled with her friends, as the trip from the OC is less than two hours. But before heading out on the road, make sure you have everything you need.

Packing List

To make sure you bring all the necessities- and then some- make a packing list before you head out to the California desert. Here are a few items you shouldn’t leave home without.

• Sunscreen: you will be out in the desert for several days, and the last thing you want to return home with is a sunburn. Spray is easier and quicker than lotion, but if you’re pale or really worried about too much sun, try lathering up the lotion early in the day.

• Hat: again, you’re in the desert. Don’t risk sun exposure and be safe!

• Water: pack a cooler with enough for you and your friends to stay hydrated! Bottled water at the festival costs $2, but that can add up over a long weekend. Remember to keep drinking throughout the day to stay energized and prevent dehydration. Consider bringing a reusable bottle (plastic, as metal bottles are prohibited inside the festival) and refilling to to keep costs low.

• Snacks: keep your energy going by eating at least two full meals a day and snacking throughout.

• Chargers: either portable chargers or car chargers to keep your phone alive. You don’t want to be stuck standing next to a charging station waiting for you phone to restart.

• Camera: a real camera will capture your weekend so much better than a phone

• Change of clothes

• Layers: the temperature will drop dramatically at night (its the desert after all) so keep a sweatshirt or jacket tucked into your backpack.

• Tennis shoes/sneakers/dancing shoes: being outside all day doesn’t mix well with sandals or heels. Make sure your shoes are broken in! Blisters are the last thing you want to deal with when you’re walking everywhere.

• Band-aids: you never know!

• Hand sanitizer

• Cash: ATMs will be available, along with long lines and hefty fees. Make sure you have enough cash on hand to make transactions quick and easy.

• Poncho or umbrella: you don’t want to be stuck in the rain in soaking wet clothes.

• Bug spray

• Hair ties for ladies!

• Chapstick

• Towels

• Sunglasses

• Backpack: keep all your stuff together when you are away from your car

If you’re camping!

• Sleeping bag

• Tent

• Blankets

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Extra Tips

The best part about a music festival is that you have an entire weekend to do whatever you want- hang out with friends, see your favorite artists, find a new band!

• Try to make a plan  before leaving- which acts you want to see the most, which you could skip, where you’ll be meeting up with people, and what to do when all of your phones inevitably die by the end of the day.

• However, don’t be afraid to stray from your plan. Live in the moment

• And with that comes an important piece of advice: stop worrying about documenting your weekend. Sure, take pictures, but don’t obsess over taking a video of every single song from every single band. Your phone/camera will die quicker, and you’ll never watch the video again.

• Stay off of Twitter and Facebook for most of the weekend. You’re at Coachella! If you need to see what everyone else is doing (aka everyone who is not at Coachella), then you need to make some changes.

Remember that you will be at the festival for an entire weekend (or two if you plan on attending both weekends), so make sure you have everything you need. Check the website for all prohibited items to make getting in and out of the festival as easy as possible! Before leaving, double check everything. Make sure you have your festival pass, camping pass, parking pass- basically whatever you need to get into Coachella. Park advises everyone to bring sunscreen and a bag that zips up to prevent things from getting stolen, especially during the music acts. Her biggest advice; “Bring common sense! A lot of my friends got their stuff stolen.” With so many people distracted by seeing their favorite bands, it is easier for pickpockets to take what they want. Make sure to label your phone and wallet clearly with your name, phone number, and address. If something gets lost, someone should be able to return it! (Photo Credit to Caroline Olsen)

Check and double check before you head out the door, and maybe even look up some acts you’ve never heard of.  Whether you are a veteran or this is your first Coachella experience, be prepared and make it the best weekend ever!

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Your Coachella Check List

Ashley Mungiguerra

Hofstra University | 15 stories

Ashley is a Journalism and Political Science double major and double minor in French and European Studies at Hofstra University in New York, but she was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. She is an avid reader, writer, and lover of old movies, NYC, and anything French. She is a member of Zeta Phi Eta, a pre-professional communications co-ed fraternity, a modern dance company, and a campus tour guide. Her dream job is to work as a TV news anchor for a major network.

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