The Smart Girl’s Music Festival Survival Guide

Festival season is HERE and I’m almost late on this post, since a few have already passed us by here on the West Coast!

If you don’t know, attending and working at electronic music festivals is my other passion aside from cannabis.

There’s always another event to go to. My next one is actually starting right now – the West Coast Weekender here in San Diego (you can use THEHURTGURU for 25% tickets if you want to join me!). Next, I’ll be making my annual pilgrimage back to Las Vegas to work at the world’s biggest party, Electric Daisy Carnival.

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I’m on the far right! with Friends at EDC Las Vegas – 2013. This was one of the best years – it’s unbelievably massive now.

Since I have been working in the festival scene for 2 years now, I’ve witnessed just about everything you can imagine. I try to be a friend to people when they need it.

I have reunited lost friends with their people, and lost phones with their owners. I’ve dabbed the forehead of someone who collapsed and called for medics for them. I have sat with strangers as they woke up confused after hours in the medical tent, and helped them get themselves back together and possibly salvage their night. I have literally donned some rubber gloves and treated a girl’s blisters because the first aid tent was all filled up.

The one thing I notice every time is that SO many young women do not come prepared to music festivals.

One girl has 3-inch long blisters on her feet because her cute shoes weren’t up for the adventure. Another is crying because she lost her boyfriend in the crowd, and he’s carrying her money, phone, keys and ID with him. More than you would think are vomiting in a trash can because they ate a crappy meal before the show, and now it’s reacting poorly with the heat, exhaustion, and whatever they drank.

We can do better. Whether alone or with friends, it’s always good to make sure YOU have access to everything that you need to stay happy and healthy – and get your money’s worth out of the show. 

One thing I have learned through attending and working at dozens of music festivals, is that I can carry my own damn bag and take care of my own damn self. And, in fact, the experience is so much more freeing when you are prepared for anything.

Below is my ultimate festival guide! It does contain referral links which will kick me a small amount of change if you buy one of the products I recommend. But, I trust all these products with my life, so I hope you can trust my recs too. For more information on festival safety, including drug safety, my go-to resource is always DanceSafe.

For the raddest music festival experience, the smart girl needs:

The Right Nutrition.

People, for the most part, know about hydrating before and during a music festival – and they still don’t do it. Getting people to think about what they EAT is even more difficult!

A solid meal and proper hydration can often mean the difference between a fantastic night, or leaving the event early.

Excitement, alcohol and other substances can really wreck your stomach if it’s full of McDonald’s or Taco Bell. Add dancing and heat to the mix, and that’s where the problems really begin at festivals. The convenience of a quick meal fades away as soon as they hand you a sickness bag and stick the IV in your arm at the medical tent – while you miss your favorite DJ playing in the distance.

Keep yourself from vomiting and possibly needing medical attention by planning a good meal before you arrive at the festival. Steer clear of fatty foods and find something fresh-cooked, balanced with protein and vegetables, and full of energy.

For just a little healthy snack that packs a big punch, I absolutely love the Mamma Chia fruit squeeze packets. They’re cool, refreshing, and the seeds keep me full and energized for hours.

I also like to bring a few key supplements along with me to keep the party moving from day to day and keep my immune system ready for anything. I like 5HTP as a daily supplement leading up to the show, and I always bring a fresh pack of Acai Berry Caffeinated Emergen-C Energy+ for the hotel room, for when I wake up tired. Sleep supplements with Melatonin can also be useful for getting some rest after a wild evening of partying.

The Right Ear Protection.

Still using those foam earplugs when you go to shows? Or – GASP – not wearing earplugs at all?! It’s okay … I guess it’s never too late to start.

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Even just the ambient sound levels at big festivals can reach 83 decibels. And that’s when you’re walking to and from the stages, not right up by the speakers where it can reach 115 decibels.

For reference, hearing loss starts to occur at long exposure to sounds 85db and above. So by even being at the festival, you’re damaging your sense of hearing permanently!

The best option to protect your hearing is a pair of reusable, high-fidelity earplugs that protect your hearing WAY better than the drugstore plugs, without distorting the sound that you paid so much money to hear! I’m a staunch advocate for earplugs.

I’m a partner with Eargasm, who makes incredible high-fidelity earplugs at an affordable price. Still time to grab some of theirs before EDC! If you miss out, just buy a pack of the silicone kind from the drugstore on your way into the festival.

The Right Footwear.

At a large festival, you could end up walking up to 8 miles per night. Don’t put all that stress on a pair of sandals, platforms, or worse – a brand-new pair of shoes that’s not broken in yet.

Vans and Converse are popular, but honestly don’t provide nearly enough support for a music festival. I prefer Nike athletic shoes, or for my work duties, Merrell hiking boots.

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Cute – but no.

Socks are important too – almost as important as the shoes. Your feet will be sweating and sliding a lot, so those lame cotton tubes from WalMart will only hurt you here.

Because when I work I can clock up to 15 miles per night, I always pick my work socks carefully. Usually, I opt for some compression socks or some other cushiony sports sock to avoid blisters and leg muscle soreness.

California Sock Company has a special place in my heart, and they happen to have the biggest selection of Stance and other comfy, cute, and athletic-focused socks that are perfect for your summer festival plans. You can buy socks from them online, or check out their physical location in Pacific Beach (San Diego). Stock up now to avoid blisters later!

Of course, my leg wear kit comes with a few extra attachments, thanks to my chronic pain! Maybe you need a little extra support, too?

For knee power, I prefer McDavid neoprene knee braces with the patella hole, or my favorite low-profile knee strap by Abco Tech.

I also have a super weak ankle that would totally sideline my festival experience if not for the Active Ankle AS1 brace.

And please, for the love of all that is holy, don’t forget to clip your toenails before the festival or you’ll dance yourself to tears!

The Right Bag.

I will always advocate for hydration packs at festivals. They carry your stuff AND they eliminate the need to buy, carry around and refill a water bottle.

Having your own bag for festivals keeps you independent, and safe with all your belongings in case you are separated or something happens to a member of your group.

I have two Vibedration packs (one big and one little!) and I can’t recommend these bags enough for music festival warriors. They come in fun designs, and hold A LOT of water, with a little room for your phone and other extras. My boyfriend and I were extremely grateful for it in Prague, since the water availability left much to be desired, both at the festival and just walking around the city.

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Maybe your boo thang is handling your hydration, so you just need a regular bag that is secure, durable and won’t get in the way when you dance.

I personally LOVE the motorcycle bag that I’ve been using for the past year.

My bag was less than $15 on Amazon, and has survived a full weekend of work at EDC Las Vegas, a 10-day Eurotrip including 3 days of camping at a festival in Prague, work duties at Escape Halloween and Countdown NYE, and countless other events. It straps around the leg, so it doesn’t irritate the armpits like a backpack does. It’s also harder to steal stuff out of because it’s right on the hip. Some cool secret compartments inside too, if you are devilish enough to find them! 😝

What goes inside your bag is just as important! Your phone and wallet will obviously be a part of that, but the rest is up to you. Keep it light, but pack things you know you will want, like travel deodorants, sunblock, hand sanitizers, or gum – all sealed for security of course. Then, add these lesser-known essentials.

Cool Towel.

Many of you may not know what a cool towel is yet, so I’m here to enlighten you. It’s pretty much the greatest thing you can pack for a summer festival – especially if you’re camping outdoors.

These towels are made with a high tech material that self-ventilates and stays incredibly cool for hours. All you have to do is soak it in some water (any temperature) and you have an icy cold towel at your disposal.

I bought my cool towel 2 years ago and it’s revolutionized my festival experience! I like to think I may have helped save a few lives with this towel at EDC Las Vegas last year, when people were coming to my station with signs of heat-related illness. It’s the perfect refreshing accessory to improve your stamina on and off the dance floor.

Several cool towel brands are available, but the one I use is Arctic Cool! It’s been proven in the scorching June heat, on blacktop, in the middle of the Las Vegas desert.

Toilet Wipes.

Let’s be real – no matter how many festivals you’ve been to, the porta-potties are something that is hard get used to. My strategy is to make the experience as comfortable as possible, which can be tough when it’s the end of the night and your potty is out of toilet paper.

Looks clean now, but in a few hours it will be a goddamn hellhole.

Be confident and prepared for whatever goes down in there with your own pack of personal wipes. This may seem really weird at first, but once you try it, you’ll be hooked on this festival hygiene habit. It just makes the horrible experience of festival restrooms a tiny bit easier.

I’ve never had an issue bringing a sealed travel pack of wipes into shows with me. In fact, several female security guards have told me it’s a damn good idea.

You can grab travel packs of Cottonelle wipes on Amazon for dirt cheap. 10 wipes to a pack, so you can help a few other girls out, too!

Makeup.

You want to be smart about what makeup – IF ANY – you bring into the festival with you. For one thing, it’s gonna take up space in your bag, but it’s also likely to get lost, either by accident or due to security concerns at festivals.

I’d advise against bringing your favorite lip glosses, because the security guards are likely make you throw away any open containers upon entry. It’s a ridiculous rule that most electronic festivals operate by – I guess they’re afraid that we drip liquefied drugs into our lip glosses or something.

Best to buy a couple of cheap lip balms (with SPF, of course) at the drugstore, so you can bring in a fresh one each day without risking it getting confiscated. It’s silly – but you have no idea how many girls I’ve seen pouting because security made them throw away their Kylie Lip Kit.

The Festival Bath Kit.

If you know me well, by now you should know I love THE BATH and all the wellness benefits it can provide. Whether you have a hotel room as your home base for a festival, or you’re going back to your bath after a long weekend of camping, use my tips to get back to normal after exhausting circumstances.

Epsom Salts.

Cannabis-infused or not, soaking in epsom salts (even just the feet!) can help to quickly recharge your muscles and relieve fatigue from dancing and partying.

Every year on the way to Vegas for EDC, I pick up a huge bag of Dr. Teal’s lavender epsom salts and soak my feet in the hotel tub every morning after getting off work. It’s not perfect, but it does leave me feeling balanced and ready to face the next day.

Peppermint Soap.

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An absolute MUST for your festival hygiene routine is Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Pure Castile Soap. I bring a travel size liquid soap almost everywhere I go in the summertime, but they make a bar soap as well.

You know the feeling when you’re camping out at a festival, you take a shower, and immediately upon getting dry, you start sweating again? Consider the problem eliminated. This hemp-based soap is famous among hippies, vegans, and the cannabis community. They have several great natural fragrances, but only last summer did I realize that the peppermint variety incredibly is effective at cooling down body temperature. Plus, you can even add a few drops of peppermint essential oil to make the cooling effect even more dramatic.


I hope you loved these suggestions, and found something new to add to your music festival packing list!

Will I see you at WCW or EDC? Do you have any more essential festival wellness secrets that I missed? Comment below! 

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EDC Las Vegas 2014

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