While both weekends of Coachella have come and gone and Indio is now officially wrapping up its last festival weekend with Stagecoach, I wanted to share some tips and tricks for the Coachella newbies out there (like myself).
In all honesty I think it's taken me this full week to recover from Coachella, and no, not for reasons you may assume. Since moving away from my hometown in Northern California, my body has acclimated to Southern California weather - very quickly might I add. At one point in my life I was used to summers where temperatures over 100 degrees was the norm but that time is long gone. The 100 degree weekend I spent in the desert was quite the trip down a very hot memory lane.
Which brings me to my first tip.
1. It's hot. People aren't lying when they say how hot it is at Coachella. From Weekend 1 to Weekend 2 there was a 10 degree temperature change. April in the desert is no joke. Good news is, most of the people you want to see don't go on until early or late evening. That being said, I would prolong your arrival to the grounds as long as possible - unless you're trying to spend hours waiting in the sun or there's someone playing at 1pm that you're dying to see, then by all means go for it!
2. You're going to walk. A lot. This is one that I didn't fully understand until experiencing on my own. While I knew walking was one of the main ingredients for the weekend, I don't think I fully came to terms with how much walking was going to be involved. The first day I wore sandals. You can bet that was the last day I wore sandals. The walk from the Uber dropoff to the entrance is over a mile and it's not a pleasant paved road. It's dirt, it's rocks, it's unshaded, it's a walk. Find some cute close toed shoes and prep those tootsies for some major movement over the next three days.
These boots were not made for walking all day so they were promptly removed after this photo and Converse were put on in their place.
3. Take care of your grocery shopping before you get there. If you come prepared to your AirBnB, Hotel, House, wherever you may be staying, with groceries, this will alleviate some of the stress from your first day at the festival of buying food. In addition, we all know how dangerous grocery shopping hungry can be. Save yourself the trouble and the time and shop the night before.
4. Breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day. If you're like me and not trying to gorge on crappy, expensive fried food all weekend, make sure you have an amazing breakfast. Try to eat around brunch time so you can hold yourself over until early evening. If you get your day started with a healthy, balanced meal you'll have the energy you need to survive the elements and the exercise involved on each day.
5. Party like a rockstar, but don't forget your water. For most people, Coachella is an excuse to get really trashed in the desert. While I wouldn't include myself in that group, that doesn't mean I don't get what's going on. For that I say power to you! Everyone should enjoy Coachella the way they know best however I would say don't forget about water. The dry heat is intense and spending all afternoon in it is a recipe for dehydration. While you can't take filled water bottles into the grounds, bring an empty one that you can fill up throughout the day and save yourself the overpriced water sold on grounds.
6. Snacks are important too! Again, if you're like me and trying to avoid all the overpriced, over-processed food at the festival, make sure to stock up on snacks when you go grocery shopping. Lara Bars, almonds and carrots were my daily snacks and kept me satisfied into the evening and not reaching for those chicken strips and fries.
7. The back of the crowd is just as good as the front. My friends and I made the mistake of trying to be at the front for Lady Gaga. Yes, I know, rookie mistake. After standing squeezed amongst a bunch of strangers for over an hour and a half with no room to even bend our legs (and after running out of water), we had to bail. After squeezing our way through the packed crowd we found our spot at the back feeling defeated but much happier with our leg room. We watched Gaga at the back with plenty of room to dance and sing and move around and believe it or not, seeing her on the screen was just as good as being shoved in a crowd looking up at her on the stage - some might say better in fact.
We may not have been at the front for Gaga but I would say the view was just as good.
8. Choose your tribe wisely. I couldn't have asked for a better group to accompany me at Coachella however it made me realize how important it is to choose your group wisely. Some people may want to see completely different acts than you, some might be focused more on the drinking/doing drugs, there are lots of areas where your opinion can clash with your group mates so choose them wisely.
9. Advil is a necessity. After day 1 I woke up feeling like I had been hit by a bus. My feet were killing me, my back was dying, every part of my body was screaming out in pain and wanted no part of getting out of bed and doing it all over again. After popping a couple Advil I was good as new and ready to do it all over again. Don't forget yours at home!
10. Plan your day in the morning before you arrive to the grounds. Your day will go infinitely more smoothly if you know who you're going to see at what time and on what stage. If you download the Coachella app and select who you want to see each day, it'll send a ping reminder to your phone or Apple watch so you're ready to go and in prime position for each act. The first day we were lacking in the planning department and wandering aimlessly among thousands of other people is not the most fun thing to do in the desert believe it or not.
11. Comfort and fashionable should be best friends. It is possible to look cute and be comfortable at the same time. I would highly recommend finding this happy medium. Remember what I said earlier about it being hot and walking a lot? Well, it's hot and you're going to walk a lot so make sure you wear clothes that are comfortable for doing both. The last day I planned on wearing shorts and a body suit but after dealing with 100 degree weather for two days, I wanted nothing but loose fitting and free flowing so I stuck with the maxi dress. Trust me, your overall experience will be much more pleasant if you're comfortable in what you're wearing and it's not sticking to your body the whole time.
Thank god for cute dresses and Converse. We were all looking good and feeling even better on Day 3.
12. If you stay until the very end, be prepared to be a sheep amongst a herd. On the last night we stayed for Kendrick Lamar's entire set. Us and everyone else at Coachella. Granted this was also the last night of the festival so the amount of people was at an all time high and as a result exiting the grounds was no joke. It was elbow to elbow shuffling along until we exited the fairgrounds and made our way to the parking lot. Definitely would not recommend for the claustrophobic.
13. 10/10 would recommend driving over Ubering. The first day we arrived pretty late so we managed to avoid the Uber crowd, however, getting home and arriving the next day was a mess. Traffic inches along at a snail's pace once you reach the one road leading into Coachella. You sit in your air conditioned car, watching the people walk by, beating you on their journey to the festival. Leaving is no better. The second night it took an hour for our Uber to get out of the parking lot alone! When we drove we cut our time in half. Designate a driver and usher yourselves to Coachella.
14. Have fun. Take photos. Make memories. Dance under the desert sun. Enjoy some AMAZING music. Let loose. Spend time with amazing people. Drink a little, smile a ton and enjoy yourselves.
Coachella is an amazing experience that some people never get the opportunity to enjoy. It's a weekend of sights and sounds and people watching like you wouldn't believe. Because of Coachella I saw some of the best concerts I've witnessed in my almost twenty-four years of life and had one of the most memorable girls weekends one could ask for.
I learned a lot, survived to tell the tale and most importantly enjoyed a weekend in the desert listening to great music with my girls.
(Originally Published April 30, 2017)