Last month me and 100,000 of my closest friends gathered in the California desert for one of the most epic weekends of my life. As a Coachella first-timer, there were a lot of learning lessons and eye-opening experiences (thanks, hot guy running around naked). I’ve taken the time to think about the good, the bad and the delicious decisions I made and created The Fat Girls Guide to Coachella! Here’s my list of things to bring, wear, eat and so much more.
Good Music. Good Friends. Good Vibes.
Before The Show
Listen to the YouTube Channel. I can’t explain how helpful this was in choosing which performances to see. There were over 150 artists performing on seven different stages throughout the three-day festival. Sometimes the artists I wanted to see were playing at the same time on different stages. So narrowing down the options and prioritizing was a must. Listening to the YouTube Channel also gave me a chance to hear new artists and add them to my list.
Download The App. The best thing about the Coachella App was that after you select the shows you want to see, it alerts you 15 minutes before each show. So while we were listening to Lorde we got an alert that Kehlani was starting in 15 minutes. We quickly made our way to the Mojave stage, on the other side of the venue.
Pregame. The liquor sold at Coachella is watered down and overpriced, so we took a few shots at the hotel and in the Uber to the Shuttle. We weren’t too lubricated, but a few shots of Honey Jack never hurts! If I wanted an adult beverage while I was at the festival I would wait until someone I wanted to see was playing on the Coachella stage and then get a beer at the Beer Garden that had a great view of the stage.
What To Wear:
Sunnies. You may have noticed that I have a thing for cute sunglasses. They don’t need to be expensive, but they do need to make a statement. Whatever your style, make sure to pack a few pairs of sunglasses just in case you lose a pair or (gasp) they don’t match your outfit!
Sunscreen. Even the melinanted must lather up! I got an SPF 50 spray sunscreen from 7-11 and made sure to reapply. If it’s less than SPF 50 does it even count?
Closed Toe Shoes. I wore cute sandals and 100,000 people stepped on my feet. They didn’t feel so cute after walking around for 10 hours each day. I saw lots of Converse, Sneakers and even flat boots. My number one suggestion is to wear comfy shoes. My feet still hate me.
All of the people that stepped on my feet.
Layers. During the day the weather is in the hundreds, but at night it cools all the way down and gets pretty windy. Easy layers like a cardigan, scarf or hat can be thrown in your bag but renting a locker is a great option if you prefer more of a wardrobe change.
Tips: Backpacks are good in theory but they are easy for someone else to get into without you knowing. They’re also a pain to take off every time you need something. I’d suggest a bigger crossbody style bag. I saw lots of groups wearing matching glow sticks headbands or hats. They looked cool and it was easy way to spot who was in the crew.
I wished my crossbody bag was bigger.
What To Bring
WATER! On the first day we weren’t sure if we could bring in an empty water bottle or our CamelBak, so we didn’t. Instead, we paid $2 per water bottle while the smart people filled up their bottles and packs at free water stations. Day 2 and 3 we were much more hydrated.
Cash. The ATM fees are atrocious, so I made a daily budget and brought that with me in cash every day. There is an option to pay with credit or debit cards for food and drinks, but there were two separate lines. The cash line was always shorter!
A Face Towel or Baby Wipes come in handy in the 100+ degree weather. It was between 105 to 115 the entire time we were there, so I was a Sweaty Netty! If you’re self-conscious about sweating I’d suggest bringing a small towel or handkerchief that you can wipe yourself off with or even dab with a little water on to cool yourself down. A personal fan or spritzer are also great ideas.
A Blanket is a blessing. The older you get, the more you want to sit. You best believe I got my groove ON! But after enduring hours in the sun, a seat doesn’t suck. We brought a Pizza Towel to use as a blanket and found great viewing spots for sitting. I’d suggest sitting in the back or towards left or right side for an easier exit. Know that people will step on your blanket, so don’t bring anything you’re too attached to. I saw people stepping on a sleeping guy so, there’s that.
Bandanas. I’ve seen people wearing bandanas at music festivals and I thought it was just for the look. It’s not. Those desert winds don’t play! My face and eyes were pelleted with sand nightly and I was happy that I brought a few bandanas ( a girl’s gotta coordinate!). I saw some people with goggles and I would even suggest bringing those because I swear I still have sand in my eyes!
Backup Battery. The festival supposedly had charging stations, I saw none! I’m sure they were somewhere and that the lines were ridiculous. I suggest bringing a USB battery pack for extra juice because if you don’t Snap it, did it really happen?
What To Eat
After we checked into our hotel we stocked up on healthy-ish snacks at the nearby 7-11. Water, hummus, chips, Cuties, salads and sandwiches were our staples. We would eat a sandwich before leaving the hotel and bring Cuties and hummus packs with us to eat during the hour-long bus ride from Palm Springs to Indio. There were plenty of options from some of the best L.A. eateries. While my heart wanted it all, my bank account was like, “Girl Bye!”. The sandwich and small snacks would hold me over until early evening when I could treat myself to some high-end fare like my favorites; Lobster Tacos and Garlic Crab Fries. I would also suggest drinking as much of the hand squeezed Lemonade as you can afford. It’s SO yummy!
How To Get There:
We opted for the “Anytime Shuttle” and while it was pretty convenient to get to from our Palm Springs hotel to our shuttle stop. It was a TREK getting from the shuttle drop-off point to the actual entrance of the festival. However, I spoke with some ladies lounging by our hotel pool and they told me that the traffic was even worse. They had friends renting an Airbnb in Indio, less than 5 miles from the venue and it took them over an hour each day to get there. The traffic was horrendous, but the heat was worse so walking was not an option.
Random Rant & Tips
Try not to get annoyed by the Entitled Teens. One of my biggest gripes has to be the high schoolers that were constantly complaining on the shuttle. Almost daily I would hear the youth of our great country complaining about the heat and walking and how they were going to make their parents pay for a massage or Spa Day. To me, attending Coachella was a privilege, a damn expensive one at that. So seeing that some parents used it as an expensive babysitter was a bit frustrating. But, maybe I’m just getting old! I’m sure I was an Entitled Teen at some point…but damn, it’s annoying!
Tip: To beat the heat, we’d chill by our pool during the day and head to the venue around 3 when it started to cool down. Still, the Antarctic Stage was a lifesaver when I was overheating. It was a cool dark room with fans blowing everywhere and seats directly in front of massive wind machines. It was the perfect place to cool down while enjoying a great new band.
Do you have any music festival tips? If so, please leave them in the comments below.