9 Hacks That Will Save Your Budget This Festival Season
by Chelsea Holdom
Festival season is just around the corner, which means getting together with your festie besties to start making your summer plans, but one daunting question remains: How can you afford all that fun? We’ve put together a cheat sheet with nine ideas on how to do festival season on a budget, so you can worry less about your bank account and more about your festival fashion choices.
Write It Down
The biggest mistake of budgeting is not clearly defining it from the get-go. You might have a rough idea of how much all the aspects of going to a festival will add up to, but if you don’t write it down, it becomes a lot harder to stick to.
Start by writing down your overall target budget, and then itemizing it—how much are you going to allocate to tickets, camping/accommodation, transport, food/beverages, fashion and miscellaneous. Make sure you keep track of all your spending leading up to the festival so you know how much you have to spend during. And whatever is left in your budget, take out in cash before you get there—cash gives you something tangible to stay accountable to and you are less likely to overspend if you know that is all you have.
It might be a little late for mega festivals just around the corner like Coachella, but if you’re eyeing up a festival for later in the season or getting a head start on 2018 planning, don’t miss out on pre-sale tickets! Taking advantage of these discounted tickets helps even the tightest of budgets go a little further, and if it’s a camping festival then you’ll get a discount on your accommodation pass, too. Once you have ticket and camping costs covered (and at the best rate!) you can refocus your savings plan for the lead up to the festival.
If you missed out on pre-sales, or simply can’t afford a ticket right away, volunteering is the best way to do festivals on a budget. Just check out the website for the festival you want to attend for a “Get Involved” or “Volunteer” tab and follow the instructions from there. Although it usually works by paying a deposit up front, once the festival is over and you have completed your volunteering shifts, your deposit is refunded and you just went to a festival for free! Volunteers usually end up with premiere camping and facilities as well as free meals and a t-shirt, and all it takes is a couple of shifts pre-, during- or post- festival. Not only that, but you’ll get to work with a bunch of like-minded people and go home with a brand new fest fam!
Food and beverages are always painfully over priced at festivals, so the best way to save on life’s essentials is to Bring Your Own. Most will let you take in packaged snacks and a sealed or empty water bottle or hydration backpack so you can stay fueled all day. If you’re heading to a camping festival, get your hands on a camp stove and cooler so you can go prepared with cheap and easy meals to get you through three straight days of dancing. Start with a solid breakfast each day and find a time early evening between sets to wander back to your site and throw together something quick and filling like pasta or fried rice. Better yet, prepare your meals before you leave home so all you have to do is reheat and go!
Share the Journey
If you’re heading to a festival within driving distance, find old or new friends to share the journey and split gas costs with! Facebook Event pages are a great place to advertise spare seats or find one for yourself, and some festivals will even have a section of their website dedicated to helping people get there. Put together a playlist of all the festival artists you’re about to see, have some road trip snacks handy and get your epic adventure started!
Recycle Festival Fashions
Festivals are the perfect opportunity to let your personal style shine through, but it’s not worth spending top dollar on clothes when they never come home looking quite the same. Try getting together with a group of friends, or organize a group online, and get everyone to bring their old festival outfits for a good old fashioned clothes swap. Or, get inspired and head down to your local thrift stores to rummage through all the pre-loved clothes and recreate your favorite looks.
Borrow or Barter
Getting set up with a well-equipped, shaded campsite can be an expensive task, and just like your outfits they can often end up coming home looking a little rough around the edges. To try to eliminate costs by asking family and friends if they have any old camping gear you can borrow, just remember to label it all with a name and contact number and look after it well. If that doesn’t work, reduce costs by checking out your local Craigslist, thrift stores or garage sales for some great bargains on all your camping essentials. And that way it’s not such a big deal if blow up beds pop or camp chairs disappear!
This one takes a little more forward planning, but if you have a creative skill you’ve always thought about trying to make some money from, you could get free festival entrance while you’re at it! Most festivals have some sort of vendor market selling anything from hand-made clothes to custom jewelry and more. Apply early enough via the festival’s website and you could find yourself making money from something you love by day and dancing the rest of the night away! If you’re really serious, starting up a festival food truck or doing freelance festival reporting and blogging are other ways you could harness your creativity to earn free festival tickets.
For those of you who dream of going to a massive festival with all your favorite artists but it’s too far outside the budget, try looking for one that is relatively new or undiscovered. Small or start up festivals usually operate at lower costs and therefore charge less for tickets, and with a quick Google you should be able to find one within a few hours drive. When you don’t know many or any of the artists performing, you go in with fewer expectations and come out having discovered enough new awesome music to get you through to the next festival season!