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How to have the best Coachella ex­pe­ri­ence, ever

I’ve been want­ing to go to Coachella since the be­gin­ning of time and — af­ter a lot of sav­ing and schem­ing — I made it hap­pen this year. It’s fair to say I had the time of my life. Here’s how you can, too...


When it comes to tick­ets, be pre­pared. Coachella zaps its fans’ bank ac­counts 10 months be­fore the fes­ti­val oc­curs with pre-sales, which nor­mally launch around June. This year, GA tick­ets cost $580 and VIP were $1300 per per­son, and yes, you have to pay the full amount up front.

If you’re opt­ing for a ho­tel pack­age (in­clud­ing a three night stay for two at one of the travel pack­age ho­tels, a three-day fes­ti­val pass, and an Any Line, Any­time Shut­tle trans­porta­tion pass all week­end be­tween the ho­tel and Coachella Mu­sic Fes­ti­val venue), you’re look­ing at a start­ing price of $3700. There are also more costly op­tions for four peo­ple or a VIP pack­age. Visit val­ley­mu­sic­ when tick­ets are re­leased for all the deets. Keep in mind that some ho­tels don’t ac­cept guests un­der the age of 21.

We caught a cheeky Air New Zealand flight to Los Angeles for $1000 re­turn — YUP, re­ally. Flights are be­gin­ning to get pretty damn cheap; you just have to get in early, around six months in ad­vance. Or­gan­i­sa­tion is key!

Coachella is lo­cated in the city of In­dio, River­side County, way out in the Cal­i­for­nian desert, a two hour drive east of Los Angeles. Af­ter book­ing tick­ets and flights, we hired a car. It pays to do this in ad­vance but you can book on the spot too. Also, shut­tle ser­vices can take you from LAX to most ho­tels and re­sorts in the ’chella area — easy peasy! Al­ter­na­tively, you can fly into Palm Springs, a funky

desert city where plenty of fes­ti­val-go­ers love to stay. It’s the back­ground of all your fave blog­gers’ and celebs’ pre-fes­ti­val pics.

Your choice of ac­com­mo­da­tion is su­per im­por­tant. If you’re camping or buy­ing a ho­tel pack­age, you’ll need to pay when you pur­chase your fes­ti­val ticket. IMO, camping is for the tough who want to im­merse them­selves in all ’chella has to of­fer. My friends and I de­cided to lay our heads down just 300 me­tres from that big, beau­ti­ful Fer­ris wheel in the car camp­ground, where we pushed through the dusty sleep­less nights to ex­pe­ri­ence what was, to us, the most raw and mag­nif­i­cent three nights of our young lives.

Of course, if you’re keen on re­sort life, you’ll be blessed every morn­ing with the lux­ury of a pre-fes­ti­val pool swim in that 35-de­gree heat, and the con­ve­nience of the shut­tle ser­vice that trav­els to-and-from the fes­ti­val from the ma­jor­ity of the ho­tels in the area. Keep in mind that the fes­ti­val grounds in In­dio are a 30-minute car ride away from Palm Springs where a lot of the re­sorts are, so defo dou­ble check the lo­cale of your ho­tel in the plan­ning stages — close to In­dio is where it’s at. The last thing you’ll feel like do­ing af­ter a long day in the blaz­ing sun is sit­ting on a bus for an hour as they stop at every sin­gle ho­tel on your route.

An Airbnb rental pro­vides the ul­ti­mate com­fort for large groups but can be a lit­tle pricey — and you’ll def­i­nitely have to book way in ad­vance to nab some lux­ury digs.


The traf­fic in Los Angeles can make Auck­land look like a joke. Aim to ar­rive in LA a cou­ple of days be­fore the fes­ti­val so you can set­tle into your new time zone, sort out your jet lag and get out to the desert with­out any stress. Se­ri­ously, you won’t re­gret it.

If you’re all about your so­cial me­dia, you’ll want to pur­chase an Amer­i­can SIM card with plenty of data — it’s su­per cheap. We grabbed ours from T-mo­bile which cost less than $45 for a month’s worth of un­lim­ited data. The things that keep a blog­ger happy!

As far as pack­ing goes, wa­ter is the num­ber one thing you’ll need. It gets HOT; the Kiwi sum­mer can’t even com­pete. You’ll also want your fave SPF on-hand at all times, and wet wipes to cleanse your­self of the co­pi­ous amount of dirty dust that clings to you dur­ing the fes­ti­val.

Your choice of footwear is IN­CRED­I­BLY im­por­tant — camping on­site gave me the chance to wear my heeled boots for the ma­jor­ity of the day be­fore quickly dash­ing back to our camp­ground to change into my Con­verse Chuck Tay­lors so that I could boo­gie all night long with DJ Snake and What So Not, sans sore feet. Oth­er­wise, I would rec­om­mend wear­ing the most com­fort­able (but still cute) shoes you can find, as your feet re­ally take a bash­ing, es­pe­cially if you’re up un­til 2am danc­ing un­der the desert stars with the fi­nal acts.

If you’re any­thing like me, a top qual­ity phone power pack will be your ab­so­lute best friend. You don’t want a dead phone when Fu­ture brings Drake out dur­ing his set as a sur­prise — luck­ily mine wasn’t!

Be­fore you go, you’ll need to down­load the free Coachella app to ac­ti­vate your wrist­band and then you’re all set. In terms of bud­get, it re­ally de­pends how you want to ex­pe­ri­ence your trip. You can do it as cheap as chips or you can re­ally in­vest in a

lux­u­ri­ous ex­pe­ri­ence. My Coachella trip cost around $2,200 in­clud­ing the ticket, ac­com­mo­da­tion, flights, car hire, gas and food for three days. To­tally doable for a stu­dent!


There’s no short­age of food and drink at Coachella. In VIP, there are pop-up res­tau­rants where you can lit­er­ally ‘go out for din­ner’. If you’re car­ry­ing a GA pass, there are over 100 food stalls that of­fer ev­ery­thing from slices of New York pizza, to healthy wraps, bagels and burg­ers. The camp­ground also pro­vides de­li­cious Acai Bowls for those who need some se­ri­ous sus­te­nance af­ter a rough wake up. To pur­chase al­co­hol, you must regis­ter your band on site to prove that you’re 21 or over (as that’s the drink­ing age in the US). You can then ven­ture into the Heineken tent.

You can make pur­chases with cash or by the chip that is placed on your wrist­band. Per­son­ally, I rec­om­mend tak­ing cash as you don’t need to worry about pay­ing off your wrist­band bill later on.

Past events have been hit with ex­treme sand storms and aw­ful amounts of dust lin­ger­ing in the air. Luck­ily I didn’t ex­pe­ri­ence this, but be sure to pack a funky scarf or ban­dana just in case. The nights can be chilly, so re­mem­ber a kaf­tan or a jumper that will fit in your day bag for the walk back to camp, or the drive back to your ac­com­mo­da­tion.

Last, but not least... BE COOL around celebs and in­flu­encers! Luck­ily for them, the Coachella cul­ture means they can roam around as they wish with­out be­ing dis­turbed; ba­si­cally, it’s re­ally lame if you bother a celebrity. It’s safe to say I was pretty un­cool when try­ing my best to snap Wiz Khal­ifa dur­ing School­boy Q when he was only five me­tres away… But no big­gie!


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