Summer music festival: What (not) to bring

It’s finally summer break and that means it’s time to start hitting the summer music festivals. So many to see and so little time! So what to bring? As any summer music festival veteran will tell you, it’s not packing light, but packing savvy that could make or break your experience.

Electrobeach Music Festival, 2013. (Credit: Ville de Barcarès)

Electrobeach Music Festival, 2013. (Credit: Ville de Barcarès)

So, before you get into your groove, follow these top tips for college students on what to bring and what to leave home to ensure a good time.

The festival essentials

Some things go without saying  carry cash, keys and water. However, there are other necessities to put on your list to make you glad you planned ahead.

In “23 Music Festival Hacks That Will Make Your Experience Way More Fun,” an April 5, 2013, post to BuzzFeed, writer Maria Sherman suggested packing the following:

  • Dry Shampoo
  • Shower wipes
  • Portable cell phone charger
  • A plastic bag and duct tape, to make rain shoes among other things
  • Money belt

Shower wipes are the greatest invention for any serious music festival goer, and as Sherman put it, “A complete necessity if you’re camping out on festival grounds. Chances are, you’re going to start smelling. Quickly. Real showers are a thing of distant dreams, so carry shower wipes with you. Not only will you feign cleanliness, you’ll feel better. And I imagine it’s a good way to make friends (clean your friends!).”

Other basic items that will definitely come in handy include, as listed in Showbams’ “10 music festival must-haves to elevate the experience,” contributed by The Festival Lawyer:

  • Baby wipes (for those dreaded porta potties)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Earplugs
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Chapstick
  • Comfortable shoes

Leave it at home

While it may be tempting to bring your own alcohol, don’t risk it. Security will check you at the entrance and most likely confiscate any of these beverages you may try to smuggle in. Worse yet, they could eject you from the festival altogether. So, use your common sense when it comes to the stuff you are unsure about, and forget about anything of an illegal nature.

The Mohawk Valley Music Festival posted its list of “What not to bring” to its upcoming festival in August. Their list is a good rule of thumb, as many other music festivals prohibit the same items. So in case you thought bringing a sofa was a good idea for lounging in the sun, think again! As the site states, “Too many people leave sofas behind. If you bring a sofa, you will be charged a $60 deposit refundable upon exiting the venue WITH your sofa.” Too many people leave sofas behind. If you bring a sofa, you will be charged Some other items on their banned list:

  • Pets
  • Glass
  • Grills or open flame lanterns
  • Motorized vehicles (ATVs, Segways)
  • Laser pens

Stay hydrated

Probably the number one rule with summer music festivals is to stay hydrated. The summer sun can be brutal and you don’t want to find yourself passed out from heat exhaustion at the front of the stage during your favorite band’s first set. The key here is how to get your water source in the most efficient way so you can spend more time stage hopping than waiting in the refill queue.

According to Matt Saltzman in the Grand Park April 8, 2014, post, “6 Essential Things You Need to Bring to a Music Festival,” rather than bringing your own water bottle (which you might lose), consider this insider move: “Buy water throughout the daytime when the sun is out while the refill lines are long (with your cash!). This saves you from frying while you wait to refill. When the sun goes down and it cools off a bit, you can start refilling the collection you now have. Make sense?”

What is on your essentials list for summer music festivals? Tell us in the comments.

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