Coachella Survival 101

by Marli Ehrlich about a year ago in travel tips

Expert Advice from a Three-Year Veteran

Coachella Survival 101
Moi A-La Coachella 2019 Weekend One

There are people who have been going to Coachella since day one. I saw one influencer mention in their Instagram caption that they've been going for the past nine years! Well, I've been for three years and to be quite honest, I might poop out on Coachella sooner rather than later. I'm sure that nine-year veteran has more survival tips than any other expert, but as a three-year veteran I can safely say I have some tricks up my sleeve. Stay tuned for Coachella Survival 101.

1) As soon as you buy your ticket, figure out where you're staying.

Coachella starts selling advance-sale passes about a year before the next festival and regular passes about four months before the festival (and then they release the lineup only about a month-ish or so before the festival). Based on that, if you buy tickets that don't include camping, book your hotel/airbnb at the same time that you buy your tickets. Hotel/Airbnb prices will go up as the festival dates near, and also places will fill up and you don't want to be an hour away in Palm Springs (or potentially further). Trust me.

On that note...

2) If you have a choice, do stay in a hotel. Trust me, it's way better than camping.

I don't really feel like I need to say much more than that. Sure, the camping is fun. You're with all your friends, it's supposedly cheaper and you're right by the festival (being so close to the fest and not having to worry about parking are probably the only perks). All three years that I've been, I've camped (because I work the festival and they only offer to lodge us in staff camping). Every time I camp, I wish I could've stayed in some real shelter for a multitude of reasons including, but not limited to:

  • Real showers
  • Real toilets
  • Air conditioning
  • You can actually sleep in since the sun isn't beating down on your tent by seven AM.
  • You're free to roam about town as needed if you need to make runs for things.
  • Wherever you stay probably has a pool, because it's the desert
  • If you stay in a hotel, they probably have shuttles to and from the festival, which saves on Ubers, and is just easier in general.
  • You don't risk your entire tent (literally) blowing away in the wind.

Again—maybe it's just me, but if I could, I would take real housing over camping any day. I rest my case.

3) If You Are Camping, Heed This Warning...

Come over-prepared. It might sound like a lot, but once you are in the campground, you cannot drive out again and come back. Again, there are no car ins-and-outs from the campground. Of course you could take Ubers to wherever you might need to go if you've forgotten something the camp store can't provide for you. But then you will have to walk down the nearly mile-long yellow path (more on the colored paths later) back to camp from the Uber drop-off point (yes, there is only one Uber pick-up and drop-off on the entire festival grounds). Just as a precaution, make sure you have everything you need before you enter the campground (sans the things that you are not allowed to bring in with you).

My biggest camping tip is to bring not only your own "kitchen" (camp stove, food, cooler, etc.), but also bring a camp shower. The festival is flush with potable water you can use for showering, plus its way faster (and cleaner) to use a camp shower than to have to wait in line for the mobile showers (which explode apparently).

4) Ladies (and Gentlemen), Your Outfit is Totally Cute... Until the Sun Goes Down

Trust me on this one. Every single year I see hundreds and hundreds of people walking around wearing next to nothing and the only thing that goes through my mind is, "This person has no idea how freezing it gets when the sun goes down." Yes, it's California weather and yes, realistically 60 degrees isn't actually that cold, except when you've been sitting in the blazing hot sun since two PM and your body is all warm from dancing.

This can be a tricky one considering how hot it gets during the day, but trust me, its worth it to lug around that extra jacket for when you need it after the sun goes down.

  1. Pro tip: If you're camping, you will have ins-and-outs between the festival and campground, so you'll be able to run back to your campsite before it gets too cold and grab some warmer clothing before Ariana's set.
  2. Pro tip: Bring emergency blankets. If you are really adamant about not carrying around a bulky jacket all day, these can fit in a small backpack/fanny pack pretty well. If you start to get cold, just whip out one of these blankets (Hack: if you share with a friend, you generate more heat).

5) Don't get lost!!!

Over the years, I would definitely say that the festival has made moves to improve cell signal for festival-goers. It's definitely not as difficult to reach people now as it has been in the past. But, with that being said, all the other phone mishaps that exist are still totally possible—dead battery, lost, stolen, dropped in a port-o-potty, etc. Therefore, make sure you establish a clear and simple meeting spot with your friends in case you separate (another good tip is to set a meeting time, just to recoup if you are planning on separating). It just helps keep your ~ish together.

ALSO—if you aren't camping, don't forget how you got to the festival. As far as I know there are only four ways you can get to the festival. Rideshare/taxis, hotel shuttles, friends & family drop-off, or driving yourself. Each parking lot or drop-off point will be the same as your pick-up point for when you leave the festival later on (things won't move around on you, I promise). Every lot or drop-off/pick-up point is located on a path that is color-coded either Red, Blue, Yellow or Green. Coachella does its best to make sure that differentiating between each path is stupidly obvious for all of its patrons—the actual fence will be coordinated with its color—there are Coachella staff on each path shouting the color at you, there are signs, etc... Still every year, without fail, people forget which color path they're on and they get lost. If you are lost, the only way to get back to where you need to go is to walk back in the other direction (potentially further than a mile depending on how far you went). Just remember this: If you entered the festival on the (color) path, you will leave on the (same color) path.

That just about wraps up all the survival knowledge I have for Coachella. Hopefully this advice helps ensure you and your friends have the best possible time!

"Follow these rules you'll have mad bread to break up If not, 24 *miles of walking in the desert* on the wake up." —Biggie really said that. I was there.

If these tips helped you out, don't forget to let me know! Share this with your friends and leave a tip! Thanks!

*All pics were taken by me and my bestie, Connor <3

travel tips
Marli Ehrlich
Marli Ehrlich
Read next: Camping > Hotels
Marli Ehrlich

I write about ramen and reptiles... and also tarot... and also beer & wine from time to time.

See all posts by Marli Ehrlich