The first thing you should do is look at the festival's FAQ and see what they won't let you bring inside. Most of them are logical things that you wouldn't bring but there are a couple of tricky ones that a lot of people miss, 'no aerosol sunblock' for instance.
Shuggie Otis - Inspiration Informatin video via YouTube
So, I'd say before you start packing things up you should think about how mobile you plan on being. If you want to jump from stage to stage throughout the day, you're probably going to only want a very small bag with essentials and/or some cargo shorts. Normally, I absolutely REFUSE to wear cargo shorts but for a festival, I'll make an exception. When it comes to festivals, I'm more focused on function than fashion but I'm also 31 so, there's that. So, for you essentials types the list is pretty brief:
- Hand Sanitizer
- Wet Naps
- Good Shoes NO FUCKING SANDALS!!
- Empty Refillable Water Bottle
- $20-$40/day for food
All, or most of what I listed could easily be carried in pockets or on your person. I know that many of you are going to try to make the case for sandals. Hold the fucking phone cowboy. I know that comfortable sandals exist but you know what else exists? Thousands of people in a field walking every direction at once all over your, now broken, toes. Those Birkenstocks are much less comfortable when they're filled with pools of your own blood. Also, don't forget that the sunscreen can't be aerosol and don't buy the cheap brands. I bought cheap sunscreen one year and spent most of the day weeping as it poured into my eyes. Not cool y'all!
If, like me, you've realized how futile it is to try to move from stage to stage the first thing you're going to want is a nice foldable chair. The one that I bring is pretty basic but I'm always envious of the people whose chairs have canopies to protect them from the sun and/or rain. I've also seen some next-level shit that involves attachable umbrellas. If you have a group of people, it's a good idea to bring a combination of blankets and chairs. Figure out which end of the park has the most bands you want to see and setup camp near the front of the chair zone. Once you've setup camp, you can pretty much abandon your camp and people won't fuck with your shit. I'm not saying you should leave your iPad sitting on your blanket but usually if you let your neighbors know what's up you can keep an eye out for each other.
If you're staying fairly stationary, you want to bring all of the essentials above but you should also consider:
- Change of Socks
- Toilet Paper
- Advil/Aspirin etc
- Empty Ziploc Bags
- Empty Trash Bags
- Personal-Size Umbrella
- Emergency Poncho
- Phone Charger
- Phone Charging Case
- Small Flashlight
- Travel First-Aid Kit
- Moisturizing Lotion
You might also consider buying yourself some galoshes. They sell them at Academy pretty cheaply but I'm sure you can find them at lots of places. You may find some of the things on this longer list odd but these suggestions come from years of experience at music festivals. You may not know why you're packing an empty Ziploc bag but at the point that you need it, think of me.
For me, it's always difficult to choose the correct bag to bring. I prefer messenger bags because they have a lower-profile so you can navigate a crowd more easily. It's also less of a production to take the bag off and on. Lastly, this is a bit paranoid but I don't like the idea of people getting into my backpack behind me. So, when I'm stationary in the crowd I move the messenger back in front of me or I rest it on my feet.
I'm sure there are some things that I missed, if history is any indicator I'll be revising this post a hundred times before Friday. You should also be taking Vitamin C right now. Build up your immune system, rest and hydrate now because once the fest gets going, you'll be wearing your body down.
Listen to this Spotify Playlist of Austin City Limits 2013 Artists.