Planning for Coachella (Camping & Houses)

If you’re one of the lucky 180,000 that snagged a Weekend 1 or Weekend 2 Coachella pass, congrats!  I bought my tickets in June as I always do the pre-sale. This will be my 5th Coachella so you could say that I’m seasoned. You’ve bought your passes now what? Planning an amazing Coachella takes time. Start today, right after you finish this post! Hopefully, you have assembled a good crew. 🙂

A good crew is essential to a creating a positive festival experience. A good crew includes people that are willing to contribute equally and personalities that mesh together. No one likes a mooch in the festival group (don’t be the cheap friend). Coachella is ranked as one of the most expensive festivals in the world. Despite that, you don’t have to break the bank if you plan correctly and in enough time. Whether you’re camping or in a hotel/house the below guide should help you. I’ve split it up the guide into a camping vs house section and then essentials for everyone  (including flying in).

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FOR THOSE THAT ARE CAMPING

Camping Passes

First, ensure your group purchased the correct camping pass. A lot of folks confuse a car camping pass with a regular tent camping pass. We made that mistake our first year. A car camping pass gives you a bigger space (10 x 30ft) and allows your tent to be next to your car. This is ideal to store your valuables and any food you don’t want left in the sun. If you get a regular tent camping pass, you will have to park in a lot and then lug your gear to your designated spot (10 x 15ft). Car camping is closer to the center of the festival which saves on walking time each day.

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If you weren’t able to snag an onsite camping pass, there are plenty of nearby campsites that you can do for a reasonable price. Okay, now that you’ve got your crew and your passes you need your gear.

Camping Gear

If you already have camping gear, I highly recommend flying Southwest. I check my canopy and tent for free each year and then get my personal items on the plane. No baggage fees (thanks, Southwest!). What we do each year is about 2-3 weeks before the festival, we place an order on Walmart.com for the closest Walmart (1540 E 2nd St, Beaumont, CA 92223). Below is the list of items we order. 

Camping Gear: Canopy (you will be so thankful for the shade each morning), Tent (make sure it has a tarp), Folding Table, Camping Chairs, Portable Gas Grill, Large Solar Charger for the tent, Propane, Portable Shower, Lanterns (it gets dark–you are camping), 2 Large Coolers, Sheet or Tarp for Canopy (the sun shifts and you want to maximize shade). You will want 1 cooler for food and 1 for drinks for every 4 people you have in your group.

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Food/Drinks

See below about flying in and car rental. At Walmart, be sure to get a few bags of ice for the drive down. The Walmart listed above has liquor, beer and food so you can just make one stop and head down. No glass is allowed. They will confiscate it when they search your car ( they make you get out). We pour our liquor into large plastic bottles with resealable tops before we get there and be sure to get beer cans. We try to plan breakfast and lunch and then eat dinner inside the festival in between the later sets.

Do not underestimate how much water and Gatorade will save your life. Whatever you normally drink, double that. It’s hot you’ll be drinking and you do not want to be dehydrated in the medical tent during your favorite artist’s set. There are ice trucks that drive around the camp sites each morning and sale for about $20. You can also walk and get cheaper ice, but you have to carry it back. Mornings can be rough so I recommend B12 pills and Pedialyte. B12 pills help boost your metabolism. You lose this during a hangover in your body so it helps you get going each morning.

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Showering/Personal Items

 Don’t be the funky person at Coachella in the crowd! Campers can shower for free. You just have to wake up really early like 6:00AM to avoid the lines. Just set an alarm and then go back to sleep. A few things that will help are baby wipes for in between clean ups, hand towelettes, hand santizer and EXTRA TOILET TISSUE (THEY ALWAYS RUN OUT). I wake up around 7:00AM each morning when they clean the porta pottys to get them when they’re fresh and no one is around.

Remember, it’s the desert. It will get cold at night. Take a jacket to the late sets and I recommend sleeping in a sweatshirt. Skip down below for how to get to the festival. Lastly, be clean and considerate. You’re given a large trash bag upon entering, use it!

CARS

My Coachella crew always rents a sexy mom mini van for our gear. It can fit 4 people plus ALL of the camping gear COMFORTABLY. If you want a little more upscale camping and comfort I recommend the Juicy Van. The stand rental is pretty affordable for a group of 4 and comes with a fridge, two gas stoves, sink and two comfortable double beds to sleep up to four people.

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FOR THOSE THAT DON’T DO CAMPING (lol)

FINDING A PLACE

I completely understand that camping is not for everyone. Some folks just need a warm shower and soft bed to sleep on. Coachella has travel packages if you want to save time, you won’t save money this way though. I recommend using sites like Airbnb, Homeaway, or VRBO. Hotels are an option too, but you will end up paying more with a hotel than a condo or room somewhere else.

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DISTANCE

Distance is something you really need to think about. The further you are from the festival, the cheaper your place will be. However, you then have to factor in the price of getting to the festival each day and the time it takes. The most economical and easiest option is to get a place near a shuttle stop. Then buy a shuttle pass. You can drive there each day and park for free, just ensure you have a sober driver both ways. If you don’t there are designated uber and Lyft drop off areas. The thing with this is the price can and will fluctuate so you might be looking at a hefty fee each day.

Like camping, I recommend this Walmart (1540 E 2nd St, Beaumont, CA 92223). Bfor food and house supplies. See below for how to get to the CA.

FOR EVERYONE

Flying In

One of the main questions I always get is what airport to fly into. We always fly into LAX! It will save you hundreds of dollars instead of going into the little Palm Springs Airport. Fly into LAX and then rent a car. There are lots of options, I really recommend one onsite at the airport as I’ve heard horror stories about offsite services.

The other question I always get is, “what day should I get in?’ I recommend getting in early Thursday morning. For those camping, there is a Thursday night welcome party on site. It’s nice to set-up camp Thursday and relax before the shows start. Also, it gives you a chance to meet your neighbors and get acquainted with the grounds. The shows start around 2/3 Friday afternoon and you don’t want to be setting up camping or checking in your house at noon on Friday.

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Driving Down

It’s about a 2.5 hour drive from LAX to Indio Valley. There are 2 Walmarts on the route. Both have liquor so you can get food and alcohol at the same stop. Cops know everyone is coming, mind the speed limit and obey the signs and the laws. You want to actually make it to the festival.

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Set Schedule

Be sure to download the official app once it’s released. Create your schedule and compare with your friends. That way you know ahead of time when you all will be separated. I guarantee you will be separated multiple times during the weekend. It happens! Yes, you will have conflicts. Just figure out if you want to see the beginning or end of a set if there are two at the same time.

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Inside the Festival

As soon as you guys get inside the festival grounds set a daily meet-up spot for your crew. For those not staying on site, they have lockers and I suggest leaving your house and car keys in there. Sh*t happens and you don’t want to be locked out! Swag sells out quickly. Get it on Friday or early Saturday. Sunday most of the good stuff will be sold out. The food is amazing and I recommend looking up the vendors before once they announce them. They will be available on the app for you to explore before. You’re given a map upon entrance. HOLD ON TO THE MAP. They are gone by Saturday afternoon and it’s your Bible all weekend long.

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Here is a list of items you will need. Including portable charger and bandana for the dust. Once again, people forget ti’s the desert. Dust storms are inevitable.

One last time, I’m going to reiterate the importance of water. You’re going to be walking, dancing, standing ALOT in the desert heat. Be smart and drink water throughout the day. Be kind and polite to fellow festival goers. Say excuse when you bump into someone (it’s crowded and it will happen). Be sure to enjoy the art in the festival grounds and in the camp grounds. Enjoy the smaller stages and explore the branded tents when you need a break (they usually have cool swag and interactive features).

Do you think I missed something? What other questions do you have about Coachella? Let me know in the comments below. I hope each of you has a safe and fun Coachella. I will be there Weekend 1 and be sure to say “hey girl” if you see me.

love,

Leigh

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