Camping at a festival can be heaps of fun or a really daunting thought if you’ve never done it before. Before going to my first festival I spent hours Googling where to camp at a festival, festival camping tips, camping packing lists, what mistakes to avoid and many more things. My festival camping survival guide should help encourage you to take the plunge, pitch your tent with confidence, and give you some of the nitty-gritty details for surviving the world of festival campsites.
Festival Camping Tips & Survival Hacks
Know the rules and restrictions.
Every festival has different rules when it comes to their campsites. Most have the same stance on bringing glass into the campsite (you can’t) but some vary massively on what you are allowed. Some allow alcohol, others don’t or have a restriction on the maximum quantity per person. Various festivals say no gazebos and BBQ but others say it’s ok… Make sure you check each festival’s rules before you turn up.
Practice putting your tent up.
Festival Camping Survival Tip > A tip I recommended when preparing for Glastonbury, put up your tent BEFORE the festival.
Not only should you check that you have all the correct poles and plenty of pegs, but you should also make sure you actually know how to put it up. Sounds silly, but it will save you a lot of time if the weather is not favourable at the festival and you find yourself putting it up in strong winds or heavy rain and need to get it up ASAP!
Don’t leave money in one place in the tent (or at all)
Most festivals accept debit/credit cards nowadays, or as is the case with Tomorrowland, Highlife, Electric Avenue or most festivals in New Zealand, they actually operate a cashless festival system. Personally, I avoid leaving any valuables in my tent if I can help it. I take advantage of festival lockers and lockups or take things with me in my bum bag. But if you must leave cash, keys or anything valuable in your tent, don’t leave it all in one place.
Don’t camp near the toilets or water taps.
Everyone wants to avoid festival toilets if they can, and the same goes for camping near them. Don’t camp right next to or too close to the toilets and water points. They smell, are busy, noisy, have a lot of footfall and the ground gets boggy very quickly. There are lots of other better camping spots to choose from, make sure you find the right camping spot for you!
Take a water bottle.
Not only is it more eco-friendly at a festival to take your own water bottle, but you will need to ensure you are rehydrating regularly. Lots of walking, dancing and drinking will take its toll on your body. Plus, when you are camping and come ‘home’ at the end of the night, it’s so nice to have a bottle of water waiting for you in the tent!
Make sure you pack the right things.
Don’t over or under-pack for a festival. Knowing what to take to a festival is vital for a comfortable and worry-free festival. With camping stuff, clothes, toiletries and other bits, you can soon find you are bringing too much stuff and will struggle to carry it all! Read my various packing lists for a festival, what to take to a day festival and more to help you pack the right things!
🧳>> What to Pack for a Festival << 🧳
🧳>> What to Take to a Day Festival << 🧳
🧳 >> Festival Packing Checklist << 🧳
Take off wet clothes/shoes BEFORE going into the tent.
I NEVER get into a tent wet or muddy. Have a plastic bag or bin bag ready to put muddy shoes into before you hop into your tent. This way you always keep the rest of things dry and clean.
Meet your neighbours.
Chat with your neighbours, say hello, swap festival stories, share a drink, and be friendly – it’s a festival after all! Knowing your neighbours is not only a nice thing, but it’s also safer too – you can look out for each other.
Take flip flops / Crocs or slides + a swimsuit for the showers.
A lot of festivals that offer camping will have showers. but not all are enclosed.
Wilderness Festival had fantastic private shower cubicles you could use, whereas Tomorrowland Festival had showers but they were open-air. Make sure you take something you can wear on your feet plus a swimsuit to shower in case there are no private showers!
Don’t take a tent that is too small.
A mistake I made at my first festival ( Reading Festival) was taking a tent that was TINY! I took a 2-man tent for 2 people – which sounds normal but I WAS WRONG. This tent was tiny and horrifically uncomfortable for two girls, let alone anyone bigger! Ever since that little error, I’ve always taken a 3-man tent for myself or a 4-man tent for 2 people. It’s nice to have more space for dirty clothes, bags, and even sitting inside if the weather is nasty.
Pick a good camping spot!
Knowing where to camp at a festival is VITAL and something I always get somewhat anxious about before I go. Getting a ‘good spot’ is very subjective, but there are definitely things to avoid and better places than others. Check out these posts to make sure you get the best camping spot at your next festival:
⛺>> Where to Camp at Glastonbury Festival <<⛺
⛺>> How To Get A Good Camping Spot At A Festival <<⛺
Look for a landmark when pitching your tent.
Festival campsites can be vast – Glastonbury for example welcomes over 200,000 people and so the campsite is more like a small town! Tents can all look the same and so it’s easy to get confused about which is which when sober let alone after a few drinks. When setting up your tent, look for a landmark that you can reference when searching for your tent later on in the festival.
Festival Camping Survival Tip > Make sure it is a fixed landmark. I made a festival mistake at Glastonbury and used an Ice Cream truck once as my reference point and of course, when I came back to find it, the truck had moved!
Tie coloured ribbon to tent lines/ Guy Ropes.
Tent lines / Guy Ropes are almost invisible at night, add some blurry-visioned drunk people to the mix and it can be a recipe for disaster. Even sober, it’s easy to trip over those little buggers so loop glow stocks or tie coloured ribbons or string around them so that you and other festival-goers can see the ropes in the dark!
Don’t use a padlock.
I NEVER padlock a tent. To me, a padlock advertises that you have something worth locking up inside. If you are worried, use festival lockers or leave stuff in a locked car instead.
Take a sleeping mat instead of an air mattress.
I never bother taking an air mattress to a festival. More often than not, they deflate and puncture mid-festival and you end up sleeping on the ground; not to mention they are heavy and a pain to carry and take ages to pump up! I take a sleeping mat instead. Mine does inflate somewhat, but only to about 2-3 inches thick, so no need for a pump. It’s comfortable, lightweight to carry and easy to roll up and pack away at the end of the festival.
Check the weather.
Festival weather is unpredictable at the best of times. Check the weather a few days before the festival. But on the whole, I pack for every eventuality. I take wellies, a jumper, a raincoat, sun cream, a poncho, a swimsuit and a hat – that way I am ready whatever the weather.
Check the festival map.
Most festivals publish their site map in advance of the festival starting. It’s worth knowing where the stages are in relation to the car parks, campsites and other areas so that you can pitch your tent in the best place for you based on where you may spend a lot of time. It’s also handy if you are in a group to arrange a meeting point in advance should someone get lost or separated from the rest of the group.
Arrive and leave the festival campsite outside peak times.
Thousands of people all arriving at once is mayhem and you can find that getting in and out of the campsite/car park can be chaos. I always like to arrive early or outside of peak times, get set up, and then I can sit back, relax and crack open the first drink of the weekend.
Take a comfortable backpack.
Packing the right things for a festival is vital, but having a comfortable bag to carry it all in is equally as important. In most cases, you will do a lot of walking from the car park to the campsite and so ensuring you are carrying your camping gear and other belongings in a comfortable bag is crucial!
Pack duct tape, a bungee cord and bin liners.
You might look like a cliché episode of CSI, but take duct tape, bin liners and a bungee cord with you. I can’t tell you how many amazing uses these things have and how often I have come to need them at a festival.
Hole in your wellies, ripped tent, broken tent pole, makeshift washing line, tent torch hanger, tent zip tag – yep, all things I have used duct tape for at a festival!
Bag cover, emergency poncho, muddy boots & dirty clothes bag, ground sheet, seat – all things I have used a humble bin liner for!
Take a camping chair.
It may seem like a mission to carry a chair along with all your other camping stuff but trust me, having something off the ground which offers back support will be a welcome relief after standing or sitting on the floor all day!
Take earplugs and an eye mask.
Festival campsites can be really noisy and sleeping in a tent will mean that as soon as the day breaks, you’ll know. Sleeping well at a festival is crucial to ensure you can keep going and be as fresh on day 5 as on day 1!
Pack a ‘TENT ONLY’ outfit.
I always pack an outfit for a festival which NEVER leaves the tent. Not even for a midnight wee or to sit outside the tent in. I keep it in a plastic bag in my sleeping bag. That way, if the worst was to happen and everything else got wet, I always have something dry to sleep in!
Pack Peebols & a SheeWee.
An item I will NEVER CAMP WITHOUT is my SheeWee and Peebol pocket toilets. THEY ARE AMAZING! Not only are they eco-friendly, they mean you can have a quick wee inside your tent, dignity intact, avoid the festival toilets and save yourself from walking or queuing at a bathroom for ages in the middle of the night or in the early morning.
Everyone is camping together, we all have to share the campsite and festival space so be kind, clean up after yourself, leave no trace, take your tent home with you and be a good human being!