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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Berkeley chapter.

April is always an exciting and enjoyable month for me, mainly because of one thing: Coachella! Since middle school, I’ve been a huge fan of this music festival, eagerly anticipating it every year. Before 2023, I’d never been there in person, but I’ve absorbed every moment through livestreams, Twitter updates, and celebrity social media stories. From staying up late so I can catch Beyonce’s iconic set in 2018 to attempting to locate Frank Ocean’s set via a social media livestream (as Coachella wasn’t planning to stream it live), I’ve never missed a beat when it came to Coachella! The festival brings a unique vibe that no other event can match, and I’m always thrilled to enjoy it, even if it’s just from a distance. 

I finally got to experience Coachella in its entirety this past year! While I could talk about my whole experience, I want to focus on Coachella’s camping experience. Many people doubt its value, but, let me tell you, it’s worth it. It’ll enhance your experience significantly! Here’s what you need to survive and have the best time camping at Coachella. 

Coachella Arrival: Early Departure and Campground Prep

Arriving at Coachella bright and early on Thursday morning was thrilling already. Leaving at 2:30 a.m. filled me with anticipation and excitement. We reached Coachella around 5 a.m., but, before heading to the campgrounds, my friends and I stopped at a nearby grocery store to buy ice and essential supplies. Luckily, we arrived just as the store opened, beating the rush of arriving cars that followed an hour later. 

Early preparation not only offers a practical way to gather additional essentials before heading to the campgrounds, but it also provides an opportunity to reunite with friends and coordinate travel plans. Our group linked up with at least three other cars, conversing and getting to know each other along the way. 

I highly recommend making a pit stop at a grocery store before heading to the campgrounds, especially for the restroom facilities. Fortunately, I managed to use the restroom before the lines grew long, ensuring a comfortable trip to the campgrounds. Upon arrival, we encountered a massive queue for security checks. 

Please prepare for about a five to six hour wait in your car before entering the campgrounds. I recommend taking advantage of this time to nap, enjoy a snack, and listen to music; this is also a great opportunity to check out the performance times of artists you want to see! Ensure you have your wristband and your car’s sticker ticket ready to go! Security expects everyone to be prepared with their car ready for inspection. 

After the security check, I expected the lines to calm down, but, to my surprise, they remained active. Be prepared to navigate through lines and search for the best camping areas. It’s where many people struggle when deciding where to go. The extensive camping grounds make it somewhat of a guessing game to find the ideal spot. While I struggle to recall the specific camping area I stayed in, I remember it being in a great location with nearby bathrooms, showers, and water refilling stations, surrounded by respectful campers. 

I highly suggest seeking advice from experienced campers or checking Reddit for recommendations on the best camping spots. Just be ready for the chaos of navigating through traffic or attempting to find a good spot by cutting through lines. 

Once you’ve located your camping spot and begun setting up, everything feels a bit calmer! I found it enjoyable to unload the car and help set the space up. Even though it’s tough being in the car so long, once you’re all settled, you can spend the entire day relaxing. I highly recommend arriving at the campgrounds early Thursday night or Friday morning, already having everything packed and ready to go!  

Exploring and Enjoying Coachella Campgrounds 

Arriving early to the campgrounds also gives you the opportunity to get to know the place and enjoy activities offered by Coachella! Throughout Thursday, I took a long nap, spent quality time with friends, and enjoyed some food. Additionally, I explored the entire camping area with my friends, locating the bathrooms, showers, water refill stations, and entrance gate, which fortunately weren’t too far away.

As we explored and relaxed at our camping spot, we noticed staff driving around in packed trucks selling plenty of ice (I thought this was something pretty cool you should know). Also, free shuttles take campers to nearby grocery stores to buy food. We familiarized ourselves with the location and layout in order to gear up for the festival as soon as it opened.

Coachella offers an expansive area with many amenities, including numerous portable bathrooms, DJ sets playing late at night or early in the morning, and much more. There are food trucks and stands, exclusive Coachella merchandise (artist merchandise is only available inside the festival), food courts, charging stations, grooming areas for makeup/hair touch-ups, a games tent, relaxing spots, a camping essentials store, and stunning architectural backdrops perfect for Instagram photos. There’s so much I explored that I can’t remember it all! I was constantly moving from one area to another. 

One piece of advice: carry plenty of cash as prices can be high. I remember paying $26 for two small pupusas and around $10 for a small ice cream. 

A must-do activity at Coachella is watching the sunset from the hills. I found it to be a memorable moment! Take advantage of the afternoon activities such as the silent disco, DJ sets, staff-hosted games, and more! 

Hygiene Tips and Insights 

Before I decided to camp at Coachella, I heard numerous people complain about it being a hassle. They’d say it was tiring, and the bathrooms being the worst part. However, I’d like to offer a different perspective on the showers and bathrooms. They’re not as bad as some make them out to be. You’ll need a good schedule for both. Here’s how I managed this aspect and maintained my hygiene in a non-chaotic way. 

I’d wake up around 7 a.m. to prepare and pack my shower essentials into my bag. I only carried what I needed for showering (and my clothes). I recommend keeping it simple and avoiding extra essentials like face wash or makeup. The focus is getting clean! 

To keep my clothes dry and clean, I packed them in ziplock bags, which I also recommend. While I experienced a long wait for showers on one of the days, most other days were quick and easy. Showers tend to fill up around 8-9 a.m., so waking up early and heading over by 6 a.m. is advisable. Every camping area has its own designated showering area. The weather can make waiting in line challenging, so stay hydrated!

To be honest, some showers may not meet cleanliness expectations, but it’s advisable to shower quickly and move on. I typically spent about 20 minutes in the shower, preferring not to stay as long. Remember to bring only shower essentials, water or a small fan, your clothes (if you don’t want to walk back in a towel), and, most importantly, flip-flops to protect your feet from germs or dirt on the shower floor. 

One more thing, showers close at 7 p.m.; they aren’t available 24 hours! 

For personal hygiene tasks like brushing teeth, skin care, etc., I typically handled these at my camping spot. I purchased a gallon of water specifically for personal hygiene use. I’d exclusively use water from that gallon to brush my teeth, wash my face, and refresh my hair/body in the hot weather.

I recommend keeping all your personal hygiene items in the car and doing your routine at your camping spot. When preparing for each day, I used a small mirror to apply my makeup and didn’t bother doing much styling to my hair since the weather tended to mess it up quickly. While some people preferred to use the designated area for their makeup and hair, I preferred to use the larger space for eating and charging my phone while doing my makeup. Keep in mind that the designated area can become crowded, so it may take some time to find space to get ready. 

As for the bathrooms, I only went before entering the festival and before going to sleep. With plenty of bathrooms available, this wasn’t too inconvenient for me. My friends brought a small tent and bucket in case we needed to use the bathroom at night and didn’t want to walk to the portable ones. However, we ended up not needing it. It sort of just became a changing tent. Just remember to carry some paper with you and, if possible, toilet covers to ensure your comfort. 

Sleep and Festival Rush

I was asked a few times, “Kayla, did you manage to get any sleep at Coachella?” The answer is yes! I had doubts at first, thinking I wouldn’t sleep or get enough rest. I was wrong! Typically, I fell asleep around 2 a.m., depending on when I returned from the festival. After doing my personal care and changing clothes, I’d set up my sleeping area in the back of my friend’s car (including my inflatable bed). 

However, I wish I’d packed more blankets. The nights get very cold, and one blanket wasn’t enough to keep me warm. Please note to pack at least three blankets! Despite not being an early riser, waking up was surprisingly easy. Once it was sunrise, the warmth began to spread, which was my signal to get up. 

I highly recommend waking up early because you not only need time to get ready, shower, and so on, but you’d want to arrive at the festival early. On the first day, my priority was to be there right when the gates opened because I wanted to buy exclusive merch from Bad Bunny and Rosalía before it sold out. If you plan to do the same, be prepared for the rush once the gates open. After the security check, everyone runs to get in line or to the stage sets. 

While everyone’s experience varies, I hope my insights and suggestions provide you with a good understanding of camping at Coachella. I highly suggest choosing camping over Airbnb or hotel options. It’s truly worth it, and you can save some money too. I always encourage camping because it’s an unforgettable experience that’ll leave you countless memories to share!

Kayla Rodriguez

UC Berkeley '25

Kayla is a junior at the University of California, Berkeley, majoring in Film and Media Studies and interested in minoring in Journalism. She is part of the writing and design teams for Her Campus Berkeley. Kayla has experience in graphic designing, video editing, and anything within media. She enjoys writing about sports, entertainment, and music. She works at UC Berkeley's Career Engagement for digital marketing and communications. After graduating, she hopes to enter the journalism, broadcasting, and/or digital marketing industry but has found that she loves following her curiosities in all areas of film and media. She enjoys listening and discovering new music, watching any sport games, going to concerts/music festivals, and going to the gym. She enjoys speaking Spanish and Catalan.