It’s a game of inches, my friends. It astounds me how many people, cars, trucks, RVs, and port-o-potties the organizers of a music festival can cram into one place – one barren, wide open, dry, dusty place. And that doesn’t even count the actual venue… the stages, the vendors, and the massive section they generously call the “seating” area. What’s even more astounding is how incredibly fun it is! Tens of thousands of folks from all walks of life come together with a common interest – music. It truly is the universal language. And how is it that all of these people with all of their belonging (and all of their beer) peacefully coexist for 3-5 days out in a field with no running water and no plumbing? Well, probably because lots of them are well prepared and know all about the requisite Music Festival Essentials.
This post is for everyone who needs to brush up a bit on how to get organized for your music festival – it’s Part 2 of my three part series on Music Festival Essentials (check out Part 1 on Food and Part 3 on Drinks). With these organization tips, you’ll make use of every square inch of your allotted camp space, and you’ll be glad you did!
Music Festival Essentials – Organization: Plan Your Space
My sister is a bit of a freak. An organization and planning freak. And since we always go to music festivals together, planning our camping space fell on her shoulders. Wow! Did she outdo herself, so I’m passing on some of her advice. Apparently some graph paper (or a really good ruler) is essential to draft your plan. (See diagram in picture below – since we always go together as families, we actually get 3 sites side by side so we can fit the dozen or so people who go with us.) First, you’ve got to know the exact size of your space. Country Thunder, for example, allots 19 feet wide by 40 feet long. Now that may sound big, but those 109,440 square inches get used up in a big hurry. Think about the big things first.
- Your Sleeping Quarters – Where are you going to rest your weary head late in the evenings? A tent? A truck bed? An RV trailer or motor home? It’s important to know the exact dimensions of whatever you’re using, then add a foot or two on each side for walking room. (And an extra 6-12 inches for that neighbor of yours who couldn’t quite keep it in the lines when he set up his space…. Yeah. That happened!)
- Your Vehicle – Car, truck, motorcycle, hover board?? Whatever set of wheels brought you to the venue will need a place to park. There’s always the option of parking in the outlying parking lots, but that’s SO inconvenient. Plus, your car hatchback or truck bed is a great place to store and lock your beer-filled cooler!
- “Furniture” – Well, I don’t exactly mean real furniture (although there are certainly those who bring La-Z-Boy recliners, full sofas, and an armoire or two… I don’t get that, but more power to them!) I’m talking about portable, foldable, easily movable tables and chairs. Think card tables, camp chairs, stackable plastic chairs, etc. You will definitely need a place to comfortably sit, eat, and just relax. All of these take up space, so measure carefully and add it to the graph paper. This will be your home for several days so set it up just the way you want!
Music Festival Essentials – Organization: The Necessities
- Cookware – Not only is it imperative to make sure you have enough cookware to heat up the food you planned, but it’s also important to make sure you have a place to put everything – whether that’s in the trunk of your car, the bed of your truck, or neatly stacked near whatever cooking source you decided to bring. (For more food planning tips, check out Part 1 of this series.)
- Drinkware – Perhaps more important than cookware! The easy solution is to bring cases of beer in cans and bottled water. But if you’re aiming to step up your game a notch, make sure to bring stacks (and stacks) of Red Solo Cups! These come in handy for beer, water, wine, margaritas, beer pong… you name it! Just have plenty and keep them easily within everyone’s reach.
- Games – Yes, games are an essential part of our music festival fun. And, again, my sister is kind of a freak. I’m pretty sure she has every board game known to man. She picks the ones that don’t take up tons of space, travel well, and will stack neatly in her game bag organizer. (One year she even brought a bunch of puzzles and a puzzle table. I’m thinking that was a bit of an overkill…)
- Disposable everything else – I’m talking paper plates, paper towels, handiwipes, toilet paper (yes, you may want to bring your own – just sayin’). Even disposable toothbrushes come in handy! We have this great collapsible organizer that holds all of our disposable necessities and I can’t recommend it enough! It’s one of the best items we’ve ever purchased. You can spot it in the picture below hanging on the pole above the alcohol tables. (There’s probably something wrong with not only having something called an alcohol table, but having two of them…)
Music Festival Essentials – Organization: All Things Sun
- Sun Shade Structures – We have an abundance of these. And for good reason. Most music festivals take place in large, open, dry, and dusty places that have virtually no trees. There’s no escape from the sun! The easiest way to avoid this problem is to bring your own shade structure. We have a number of different kinds, but our favorite is the 10×10 lightweight shade structure that comes with built in LED lights. (It’s the Coleman Instant Canopy with LED Lighting System) It pulls double duty – provides shade in the day and light at night (which is quite useful when you’re fishing around for a beer or wine cooler at midnight!)
- Sun Screen – No explanation necessary on this one. Wear sunscreen! (My brother in law is a pathologist. There’s A LOT of skin cancer out there. Protect yourself!)
- Sun Hats – See above. (And, yes, a cowboy hat counts!)
Music Festival Essentials – Organization: Your Personal Comfort
- Earplugs – I know, I know… you’re going to a music festival to hear music! But when you’re ready to sleep, you want to sleep. Trust me on this one. Whether it’s the uber late night D.J. or the morning trash crew, you’ll want to block out as much of that noise as possible. And make sure to bring extras for your friends who didn’t read this!
- Sleep Mask – Sounds dorky, and you might look a bit ridiculous, but if you’re sleeping in a tent (or in the back of your truck) and the good morning sunshine starts popping up over the horizion, you’ll thank me for having your sleep mask.
- Personal Wipes – I probably don’t need to explain this one, but the port-a-potties can get a little gross. And if you don’t have access to water or a shower, these will become your best friend.
- Allergy Meds/Equipment – Skip this one if you are one of the fortunate ones who has blessedly escaped the hell-on-Earth-condition knows as allergies. And boy does it get worse in this kind of environment! Plan ahead – dose yourself up on whatever relief you normally take well in advance, and bring loads of extra to take on site. I’m talking allergy eye drops, nose spray, eye wipes, asthma inhalers, and even face masks! (Note the cute albeit dorky pic of my brother in law below, face mask and all!) If you want to enjoy your time at the festival, do everything you can to reduce your allergies.
- Anything else that makes you happy!
Organization can mean the difference between having a great time and having one of the most amazing times of your life! You’ve likely plunked down a good chunk of change for your music festival ticket. Plan accordingly and it will be worth every single penny. I haven’t done the math, but I’m guessing the price per square inch of your “living space” ranks right up there with Manhattan, San Francisco, or Silicon Valley. Make the most of it and get organized! Have an awesome time, and let me know in the comments below which festival you’re attending!
Here are a few pics from our amazing time at last year’s Country Thunder!