Music festivals are a guaranteed fun time that you (hopefully) will never forget. These memories make the overpriced food, drinks, and tickets worth it. But you don’t have to spend a fortune on your festival experience.
If it’s your first time going to a music festival, it’s easy to get sucked in and spend way more money than you need or want to. Nobody wants to blow through all their savings in one weekend — especially if you’re a student or a recent graduate. But that doesn’t mean you should miss out on a good time.
While every music festival’s rules and regulations differ, most festivals have similar restrictions. Here are a few tricks festival-goers can keep up their sleeves to avoid spending more money than they have to. (Hint: work smarter, not harder.)
- Set a daily budget.
This is an easy rule to make for yourself weeks before you go to the festival. Map out your finances and see how much you’re able to spend in total, then divide that between the number of festival days. Make sure to leave some cash aside for an emergency fund. (Especially if the festival is in the middle of nowhere, like Coachella, where car services are notorious for surging at the end of the night.)
- Bring a portable phone charger.
No one wants to be stranded at a festival with a dead phone! Many festivals have charging stations on site, but they also may charge you to use them. Finding a free charging station may be like finding a needle in a haystack, but you won’t need to go through the trouble if you bring your own. Even better — invest in a battery pack phone case.
- Leave your debit card at home.
There’s always a chance of losing your debit card or, unfortunately, someone stealing it while at a music festival. (Especially if your ‘fit doesn’t have a bag or zippers involved.) Leave your personal cards at home, and bring cash or a prepaid credit card with you.
- Budget in your travel.
Even if your festival tickets are bought in advance, you’ll have some travel expenses, too. If you’re driving, try carpooling with friends that are going to the same festival or staying at the same hotel or Airbnb. If you’re flying, look into credit card points you may be able to redeem. You can also turn on flight price notifications to make sure you get the best bang for your buck.
- Take advantage of free merch.
A lot of music festivals will have booths giving out free stuff. Check them out and take what will be useful to you, like a bottle of water or a tiny portable fan. No need to bulk up on any random T-shirts or pens — you’ll want to throw those out after a couple of hours of carrying the extra weight.
- Eat at home.
While the food at music festivals is Insta-worthy, it’s not budget-friendly. Food and drinks at festivals are overpriced, and once you’re there, you have no other choices. Before you leave for the day, make sure you eat a good, balanced meal to fill you up, so you don’t have to spend so much on the festival grounds.
- Leave early (if you can).
If you’ll need a car service to drop you off at the festival, be prepared for wild prices on the way home. If the closing artist isn’t your favorite, you have the upper hand. You’ll be able to leave before anyone else, and avoid the end-of-the-night price surge and traffic!