Never been to Coachella before and worried that they don’t admit access to anyone over age 25? Are you plagued with crippling doubts that you aren’t tanned enough or won’t be allowed entry due to unwillingness to glitter and publicly display the parts of your anatomy generally covered by clothing or at very least swimwear?
These are valid concerns. However, never fear. You can do this, and more importantly, you absolutely should!!! Here are a couple of tips to help.
First thing: tickets!
Standard tickets sell out about 15 seconds after they go on sale. But never fear- this doesn’t need to stop you! There is a way! If you want to camp and buy standard entry tickets you can keep an eye on the threads on the Coachella Valley Music Travel website for info. If you’re buying a hotel package, your tickets are included so you’re all set!
To camp, or to camp at the Hilton?
A lot of the articles I read when I was planning our trip had a lot of commentary suggesting that if you don’t camp at Coachella, you are skipping a rite of passage, or even cheating to a certain extent. I do get that perspective (it is really great to experience a festival that way), however I think if aren’t based in the US and potentially attending Coachella at all is a once in a lifetime kind of a thing, you should probably get extra credit for being there at all…well that was my logic anyway.
For us, travelling internationally to get there and having serious valuables with us, camping just wasn’t an option, so we did the next closest thing and shared a room at the Hilton Palm Springs.
I would highly recommend it (the Hilton I mean, although room sharing was pretty fun too!). With all that dust, a high pressure shower is a very valuable asset. Also, the desert heat means pool access is a major plus! The pool party at the Hilton was also great, and had some really handy freebies (for example people that would braid and glitter your hair). Having said that, I’m sure any of the hotels would be great as a home base to freshen up.
Getting to Palm Springs
Head out the day before to avoid all of the traffic drama. I can highly recommend renting a car and spending a night before Coachella kicks off either around Joshua Tree National Park area or in Palm Springs itself, it is great to have a home base the night before to not feel rushed on the first day of Coachella.
Joshua Tree is a really beautiful place to visit, with lots of art, vintage stores, beautiful hikes in the national parks and importantly, excellent local bars worth checking out! There are some great air bnb options in the Joshua Tree area, and the Palm Springs/Indio area has plenty of hotels also.
The hotels only let you check in at 4pm, by which time you probably want to be in the gates on Day 1. So having a place in the morning to actually get ready properly means that even if you are switching hotel as long as you have what you need at the top of your bag for when you roll into the hotel after Coachella day 1, you are sorted. Screwing around and getting ready in a public hotel restroom or out the side of your rental car seems like it would be painful.
Plan your strategy for seeing as many acts as you can
Seeing as the lineup is out, you’ll already know who you really want to see. One of the best tips I saw was to put people in categories to help you prioritise, because you’re probably going to have a clash somewhere across the 3 days where 2 acts you want to see will be on at the same time.
TIP: It gets HOT in the sun (think 40 degrees celsius) and you could be standing in it for quite a while!
Just leaving this here, because, well, Beychella. Clearly I was too busy having the time of my life to nail photography in this moment, my bad.
A couple of other tips……
*Book a locker as early as possible, it’s worth it to have a stash of stuff on site (sunscreen, warm clothes for when the temperature drops inexplicably at night to below 10 degrees Celsius etc)
*Have a bag with you that won’t interfere with dancing but that will still be secure (think bumbag, backpack or crossbody bag) for emergency supplies of water & Hydralyte, sunscreen, snacks, money, etc.
*The Coachella app – download it asap, it will keep you updated and has helpful info for planning your schedule
*Don’t rely on having phone reception. Make plans to meet friends at specific times and places. And have a backup. Maybe 2.
*Clothes. Whatever you decide to wear, just make sure it’s comfortable to walk 20 kilometres in and dance for 10 hours, because both of those are likely. Coachella is definitely an anything goes environment, so embrace it! It’s not a judgement zone so dress to have fun, be comfortable and of course dance
*Get the shuttle pass. Basically, pay for anything that means you don’t have to use your brain. You’ve been working for long enough to afford it. Hand over your money. Just do it. If you’re booking a hotel package this will be included anyway.
*Recovery Day – Don’t be crazy. Extend your stay in Palm Springs (or wherever you decide to stay) for a day to a) dodge the crowd leaving town b) not have to check out when your body will be feeling like you have run seven marathons c) actually get to enjoy the area!
A couple of articles I found really helpful are below (and a shoutout to their authors for the tips!):
Travel Grom’s Coachella tips & tricks
And this thread in particular on the Coachella forum had so much information to make the list making nerd inside me very very happy!!
We came, We Coachella’d, We conquered!