11 Essentials For Surviving Coachella In The Desert

by April Saylor

11 Essentials For Surviving Coachella In The Desert
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Festival season is upon us, and the most overwhelming part of preparing isn’t getting the coveted tickets or plotting set times… it’s figuring out exactly what you’ll need for your week in the desert. But aside from your favorite outfits and a pair of chic sunnies, this list has everything you’ll truly need for a few days in the California desert.




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This is not the time to work on your tan. Trust me. It's the hot desert sun for three days; even more if you're camping. And unless you shelled out hundreds of extra dollars for the VIP section with a few palm trees, there's barely any shade to come by. Find the highest SPF you can buy, and slather it all over yourself repeatedly. There is literally nothing worse than getting sunburned and spending your time suffering rather than having fun. Unless you're hungover, which brings me to my next point.

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Water (and a Refillable Water Container)


Whatever booze you thought you'd use to make a refreshing cocktail for your So-Cal pregame, save it for spring break. Temperatures in Indio during Coachella average above 90 degrees during the day. You'll be outside dancing in the sun ALL DAY (and night). Hydration should be a top priority. Stock up on gallons of water and Gatorade at your campsite, and if you do decide to drink alcohol, try to alternate each beverage with a bottle of water. Your body will thank you.

You may want to invest in a CamelBak or other large, refillable water reservoir to carry throughout the fest. You won't be able to fill it until you're inside the venue, but bring it in empty and fill up at one of the refilling stations located throughout the fest. And the more you can carry, the fewer trips you'll have to make during the middle of a set to refill.

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It's a blast to end up at the front of the stage, but it can also be a literal blast… on your eardrums. Grab a set and keep them in your pocket in case the bass drops a little too hard. And if you're camping, these double as extra insurance that you'll get at least a few hours of sleep at night while your neighbors keep the party going for 24 hours straight.

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Fanny Pack


This is less a fashion statement and more a necessity. Your back pockets will be too sweaty to hold your phone, your backpack too heavy after eight hours of standing, and a purse? Just forget it. It'll just end up dragging you down like a friend who doesn't want to dance when you should be throwing your hands in the air. Rock the '90s trend like a true tourist, and you'll have enough room for the essentials (gum, Chapstick, and Band-Aids, duh.)

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External Phone Charger


While I’d highly recommend turning off your phone and just enjoying the show, you’ll want to be able to reach friends in case you get separated. But between trying to get the perfect Instagram of your outfit, the alerts from your group text, and the 100,000 other people trying to get a signal, your battery will likely go sooner than you thought. Bring an extra battery pack or charger in case of an emergency… but don’t waste the juice on a dozen Snapchat videos for your friends who couldn’t come. They’re already jealous enough and the people stuck next to you in the crowd will hate you more than you’re prepared to find out.

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Comfortable Sneakers


Sandals and flip-flops are great for around the pool or campsite, but you’re going to want to protect your toes when you’re in the middle of a crowd this large. And while boots might seem like the perfect touch to your fave fashion statement, they get too hot and heavy when you’re on your feet all day and night. Avoid bringing your freshest white Nikes, though—the desert dust will cover them by the end of the first set. If you’re planning to dance the whole time, chuck in a pair of insoles to save yourself the inevitable pain you’ll be in after a night of cutting shapes.

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A Bandanna


It’s the desert, with 100,000 people walking around in a dried-out valley for days on end… you do the math. A bandanna or handkerchief that you can tie around your face to quell the dust in case of a windstorm will be your superhero in an otherwise hopeless world. Plus, it takes up zero suitcase real estate, and you’ll look like a total badass.

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Wet Wipes


Let’s face it—you might not get the chance to shower as much as you’d like. If you’re camping, the shower lines are LONG and cost more than they should. And between the dust, sweat, and sunscreen, you’re going to want to wipe off the day’s grime before you crawl into your sleeping bag.

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Small Flashlight


Don't waste your valuable phone juice just trying to find your tent! Bring a small torch for those 2 a.m. runs to the porta-potty, which brings me to the final necessities you'll want to bring along to Coachella…

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Toilet Paper


It's different for guys! They can pee anywhere like it's no big deal. Not only do us ladies have to make the unfathomable choice to sit on God knows what substance landed on the seat before us or precariously hover over the teeming pool of poo, but you'll inevitably end up in a porta-potty that's run out of tissue. You might be able to get by once, but there will come a time when you need it. You never can be too sure with this one. Prepare accordingly.

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Hand Sanitizer


Just the mere mention of the dark, smelly toilet experiences that haunt every festival-goer's nightmares have me washing my hands like a surgeon in pre-op. But running water (and real, brick-and-mortar bathrooms) are rare once you get to the festival. Stuff a tiny bottle of sani in your fanny pack and get back to the party.