Ahh, Coachella: those three days of magical music bonding in Indio, California where the Spicy Pie is eaten by thousands and Tupac appears from the dead, albeit by hologram. It’s the place where Beyonce graced her baby sis’s show, the Pixies played their first set in 11 years and Daft Punk constructed an L.E.D. pyramid that instituted them as the grandfathers of dance music. But if there’s one thing that defines Coachella as one of the greatest festivals of this world, it’s this: the Polo campgrounds.
Now, for those who have never camped before, we know what you are thinking. Camping is for dirty, mud-smeared hippies. Sleeping on a cramped plot of land is not ideal. The shower lines are terrible. And why would we subject ourselves to three days of porta-potty usage. Airbnb and hotels offer clean, quiet rooms for our weary selves, and camping sounds … gross.
Contrary to popular belief, not everyone who camps reeks of unbathed bodies and baggy eyes. In fact, campers have discovered the secret gold nuggets of Coachella: Showers are line-free at nighttime, campsites allow for meal prep which cuts down on food costs and home bases close to the welcome gate provide the luxury of changing clothes and taking a nap before Florence and the Machine. Not to mention, you get so much more than hotel-goers — morning yoga workshops, silent disco ragers, Slip’N Slide rides, a chance to win VIP tickets for life if your car looks psychedelic and says “Carpoolchella,” the list goes on and on.
Whether you’re a newbie camper or an old-timer, here’s the surefire packing list. Don’t be a derp and forget any of the bare necessities.
- Wristband + camping pass: It’s obvious, but don’t forget this. A friend did one time, and it caused bad Coachella juju for the whole weekend. His tent uprooted during the Red Hot Chili Pepper dust storm and flew into the juice shack.
- Tent: your secure dwelling, as long as you have stakes to keep it steady during unsuspecting dust storms.
- Sleeping bag, pillow, sleeping mat: You only get six hours of sleep, max, so get as comfy as possible.
- Lawn chairs: No campsite is complete without lounge stations.
- Easy-up, tarp, stakes, hammer: The first two will provide shade, which you will crave. The second two will keep the shade in check.
- Camping stove, pan, pot: If you camp in a big group, it’s worth it to bring cooking supplies and take turns making meals. You’ll save so much money eating potluck tacos, margaritas, chili and pasta.
- Trash bags: to keep things nice and tidy.
- First aid kit: for when shit hits the fan and you get stepped on and start bleeding during the stomp dancing madness of Alabama Shakes and become so grateful for Band-Aids you could cry.
- A sweatshirt: While daytime temperatures reach over 100 degrees, this is still a desert, so it does get cold at night. We know you’ve been carefully selecting your crop tops for weeks, but don’t forget a hoodie.
- Extra set of car keys: just in case the first set gets locked in the car. You don’t want to be that person on Monday morning’s rush to get home.
- Duct tape: The quick fix to anything, duct tape is here for ripped tents and torn tarps.
- Extra batteries: because you never know when batteries can come in handy.
- Hand sanitizer: The nastiness of Coachella porta-potties is not a myth. Defend yourself and get one of those Purells with a clip from Kmart.
- Aspirin, Emergen-C, Pedialyte, antihistamines: At some point, your immune system will start to break down due to extreme heat and extreme dancing, so ease the pain and prep the meds.
- Chapstick: Burt’s Bees is a MUST. The cool, minty flavor will alleviate thirsty lips.
- Flashlight: We know you usually use your phone as a flashlight, but phones die an early death at Coachella. Keeping a flashlight around the campsite is handy for finding toilets in the middle of the night.
- Baby wipes: to de-dust your face and hands before hitting the pillow.
- Clorox wipes: for cleaning around the camp.
- Saline nose solution: If you’ve got bad allergies, this is a necessity. De-gunk your nose nightly to prevent nasal problems. Dirt chunks will fly out, we promise.
- Sunscreen: Your mom will tell you to pack it, and you shouldn’t take this is an opportunity to be rebellious. You will peel. It will get ugly.
- Sunglasses: to protect yourself. Also, ladies, your makeup will slide off your face by 3 p.m. so sunglasses keep you looking fresh.
- Hat: see above.
- Lighter: Useful for many things, a couple of Bics in your pocket will help you make friends throughout the weekend.
- Water canteen: Water bottles cost $2, but fill-up stations are free. The Dollar Tree sells plastic canteens with a carabiner that you can attach to your shorts.
- Ear plugs: Bring these babies along just in case your neighbors are of the wild variety.
- Tissue packets: Little packets of tissues stuffed in your backpack will be a godsend when the porta-potties fail to provide the paper.
- Toilet paper: Leave three rolls in the campground, because Charmin Ultra gets luxurious.
- External battery packs for phone: For $10 you can avoid the charging stations and charge your phone three to four times.
Food and Drink
- Plastic eating utensils, cups, napkins, paper plates, paper towels: Keep it all disposable.
- Ice chest, ice: for obvious reasons.
- Water: You will need LOTS of water. Go to Costco and grab four gallons.
- Beer: No glass is allowed at Coachella, but cans are a go. Good for beer pong, icing injuries, etc.
- Gatorade, Naked Juice, Coconut Water, Bloody Marys: something to restore lost electrolytes and drink in the morning.
- Beef jerky, trail mix, chips, salsa, granola bars: salty snacks with a bit of nutrition to replace what you’ll sweat out throughout the day.
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, breath mints: Keep the mouth fresh for your random makeouts in the air-conditioned Yuma fortress.
- Soap, shampoo, razor, hairbrush, sandals for the shower: The showers are teeny tiny with laughable shelf space so we recommend putting all these in a mesh bag that you can hold around your wrist as your do your thing.
- Deodorant: because body odor can be repelling.
- Towel, bathing suit: Wearing your bathers while showering is recommended, FYI.
- Hair ties: to keep the long locks and man buns secure.
- Bandana: for protecting your oral cavities from nighttime dust storms, keeping your hair out of your face, whatever.
Fun Stuff to Enhance Life
- Camera: DSLRs are not allowed inside the festival, so bring a GoPro or another small-ish device.
- Flag: This will distinguish your campsite from everyone else’s, making it easy to find. Plus it will look sick.
- Car paint: Painting “Carpoolchella” and desert oasis scenes will put you in competition for winning VIP tickets to the festival for life. Get your paints at the Dollar Tree.
- Portable speakers: for morning parties before the music starts at 1 p.m.
- Ping-pong balls, foldable table: We recommend setting up beer pong as early as possible, because the morning heat will force everyone out of tents by 7 a.m. anyway.
- Cards: for breakfast drinking games.
- Glowsticks: because they cost a dollar and will make your nighttime dancing sessions merrier.
- Walkie talkies: Phones don’t work inside the festival campgrounds, so some people bring these. It’s not a necessity, but it’ll get the job done. Plus you can meet similarly kooky people doing the same thing on different channels.
- Head massager: one of those wiry ones that looks like an egg-beater. Having one of these goodies and offering up services will make your friends love you more than they ever did before mid-Caribou’s set.
- Portable fan necklace: Yeah, it’ll look dorky, but keeping this around your neck will cool you and everyone around you when you’re not at the Do Lab getting sprayed by some dude who looks like he’s in LMFAO.
- Group prop: It’s impossible to meet up with people at Coachella. So if you’re the wandering type, it might be good to invest in a group prop so that you can spot friends in the crowd. The group prop can be balloons, giant flag erections or a 6’7’’ friend of yours.
Have fun, coachillers! The happiest place on earth is less than two weeks away.