Coachella Survival Guide

Apologies in advance, my friends, but this blog is about to turn into Coachella central! In less than a month, I’m heading to the desert wonderland for my third time, so I am in full on planning (ahem, obsession) mode. Since my first experience at Coachella was a disaster (you can read about that here), and my second one was a marked improvement, I’ve definitely gleaned some tips during my time dancing in the Indio sun. I thought I’d share my wisdom, so you can not only survive, but thrive at the queen of all festivals. Check out my tips below!

Register Your Wrist Band

Before you even set foot in Indio, you need to register your wrist band. Find full instructions here. If your friend is receiving your wrist band for you, get the unique ID number from them, so you can link your wristband to your Coachella account. You can’t make changes once it’s registered and won’t be able to get in if it’s not activated.


Go With a Plan…..
Coachella can be overwhelming for newbies, as there are so many bands to see, foods to eat, and outrageous outfits to take in. Go with a plan. Make a list of your favorite bands, know what food you want to try and have a general idea of the schedule for each day. You don’t want to miss out on a ferris wheel ride at sunset or set by your favorite artist because you weren’t paying attention to scheduling.

….but be flexible
That being said, be prepared to break your plan. Some of the best moments are spontaneous, and you don’t want to be the schedule nazi of your group who can’t go with the flow.

Hydrate All Day Long
Dancing to Grouplove in 1PM sun can be very hazardous to your health. It may seem like overkill, but you want to be chugging water ALL day long at the fest. The sun will be blazing, and you will get dehydrated easily. Water bottles have been $2 since Coachella started, but there are also free refill stations if you want to be economical and less wasteful and bring your own bottle. I love this water bottle that will pack flat in your carry on.
You may feel full from guzzling down water all day, but try to eat all three meals. You’ll want the energy to make it all night (and that looooong car ride back to your hotel). Plus, you really should try the Spicy Pie and Crab Fries. It would be a sin not to.
mmmm I wait all year for the glory that is Spicy Pie

Have a meeting place
With thousands of people trying to upload Snapchats of their flash tattoos and Sahara tent selfies, you can bet that it will be difficult to send texts and get a hold of missing friends. Designate a meeting place at the beginning of your trip in case you get separated. Plan to meet there at the end of the night or other specific times throughout the day, so you can regroup. Pro tip – don’t choose something too crowded like the ferris wheel or the art exhibits which tend to move around throughout the day.

Comfort > Fashion
There’s something about 100 degree weather and standing in said weather for 8 hours that makes you throw all vanity out the window. More simply put, you will want to be comfortable at Coachella. Wear breathable clothing that is easy to walk in and you won’t mind getting caught in a freak dust storm. Ladies, avoid heels, wedges and sandals. Stick with sneakers and flat boots for comfort and protection. Vans or these booties are my all time faves.
Go Later in the Day
Unless you are a festival warrior and HAVE to see one of the lesser known bands, skip the early shows and arrive after 2PM. You’ll thankfully skip most of the mid-day sun and will have more energy for the magic that is Coachella after dark. Singing acapella to “Wake Up” with Arcade Fire and thousands of your new best friends once the sound has been cut for the night will be worth it.
Recharge in the Morning
Want a successful afternoon and evening? Stay chill AF in the morning. Sleep in, eat breakfast ( a green juice is a good idea), lounge by the pool and stay in the shade. I avoid alcohol in the morning as well, so I’m not dehydrated before even stepping foot on the Empire Polo grounds.

Text Specifics
Say you get separated from your friends after seeing Lana del Rey, but you want them to come meet you at MGMT. Do NOT text “Where are you?” or “Come to the Coachella stage.” Send specific actionable items with times, such as “Meet me at MGMT at the Coachella Stage at 3PM.” If your text goes through later due to lack of connection, you will have a much better chance of finding each other.
Bring a Flashlight
Every girl in a romper and booties will start to look the same when covered in darkness, so bring a small flashlight so you can easily find your friends or in case you drop your phone on the ground. Crawling around aimlessly in the sand like Velma from Scooby Doo looking for her glasses won’t be cute.
Print a Setlist
This is so helpful! Setlists are posted publicly at the fest, but in limited spots. You’ll be easily able to plan your next show and double check times without having to give up your perfect spot at the main stage.
Rent a Locker
I haven’t tried this yet, but I’m hoping to rent a locker this year. Many of the Coachella pros online recommend it, and it will be so convenient to leave a sweatshirt (or even jeans) in there for the chilly nighttime sets. You can also stash any beers you managed to smuggle in 😉 You can rent a locker in advance here for each weekend.
Go Easy on the Substances
Yes, you can have a few beers, but go easy on the liquor and other substances. You don’t want your Coachella to end early for you and your friends because your seizing on the ground at the Sahara tent.
Keep Your Phone on Airplane Mode
Save that precious battery!
Bring Cash
I believe some food vendors still only take cashola, so bring extra to have on hand just in case. Also be sure to notify your bank before your trip that you’ll be in the Palm Springs area, so they don’t freeze your card during the middle of the festival.
Buy the Souvenir
Yes it’s probably overpriced and the line is way too long. Yet, one of my few regrets from my first Coachella experience was passing up on merch to save money. Save up and buy a shirt or at least the poster, preferably something with the year and lineup on it. They are unique collectibles and will bring you back to your Coachella happy place when you are back in the real world and deep into withdrawals.
Document Your Trip
Take lots of photos! I’m going to basically empty my phone camera/video roll before my trip, so I have plenty of storage for all my snaps. Coachella is absolutely stunning with all of the art, palm trees, wild colors, and glorious sunsets. You will want to document everything. In addition to my phone camera, I’ll also bring an Instax and travel journal. I’m trying to write down more of my travels, so I don’t forget all the little moments that make trips so memorable.

But Live in the Moment
Don’t get me wrong, I can be quite the selfie whore, and I will be snapping away like crazy come Weekend 2, but remember to put the phone down and live in the moment. Take it all in! You’re finally at Coachella and you will want to commit every otherworldly moment and scene to memory.

 Check out some of my Coachella must haves:

 Get Social!
Instagram (I love a good seflie)


I’m linking up with the awesome girls at Travel Tuesday, hosted by Bonnie Rose. Check it out if you love finding excellent new travel blogs!


  • This is a great guide I hope you have a great time this year

  • These are amazing tips – not only for Coachella but for a lot of music festivals I think! 🙂

  • Awesome post, Erin! Do you have Twitter? These tips are great for so many events and day trips as well! Thanks for linking up with us on Travel Tuesday!

    • Thanks, Christy! Yes, I'm on Twitter – @ErinLindsayD – let me know your handle as well, so I can follow you back. I look forward to Travel Tuesday every week!