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 valleymusictravel.com 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.
A FEW DAYS BEFORE
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!
AT THE FESTIVAL
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!