When it comes to crucial Coachella necessities, the most precious one is clear: Water. (If you didn’t know this already, we can’t help you.) Sun protection trails closely behind, as does hand sanitizer, comfortable shoes, a bandana for the sand, a charger—you can check out our full list of essentials for more on the obvious. Once your bag is packed, though, how do you actually navigate the festival like a pro? Here are a couple of hacks to help you stay ahead of the desert challenges and be one with the hippie zeitgeist.
What Would Daryl Dixon Do?
When the sun sets on the Empire Polo Club, a different type of community emerges. The daytime camaraderie morphs into mass blind-leading-the-blind hysteria, with slews of interlocked millennials all vying for the same patch of grass you’re trying to traverse. That dude who high fived you an hour ago is now one in a horde of clammy, intoxicated zombies wearing capes and tank tops that say “Bro-chella” on them. They smell like day-old Axe, and they think all the time is the best time for an airhorn. Skip the hot mess by muscling your way into the GA beer garden to the right of the Main Stage. The corner nearest the stage offers some space to breathe, and you get to actually hang on to your drink while watching GN’R or Calvin Harris. Now that you know our prized secret, save us a spot under the tree, and we’ll take a Stella, thank you.
Find Bathrooms That Won’t Make You Cry
If you’re in the sea of GA—hey, we’re right there with you—any bathroom you visit after midday Saturday can leave you with mild PTSD (and possibly a mild STD). It’s actually pretty simple: Use the ones farthest away from the main population. BONUS TIP: Pack a roll of cardboard-less toilet paper or a packet of tissues in your backpack. Granted, it seems weird on Friday, but you’ll be thankful when you get hit by a flying cup of Heineken or visit the bathrooms after they’ve become a forlorn place devoid of even a wisp of toilet paper on Sunday.
Uber is Not Your Friend
“Early to bed, early to rise” is a maxim that’s surprisingly fitting for Coachella. (Well, “early-ish,” but that doesn’t have the same ring to it.) If you’re staying at a local hotel or Airbnb even just a couple miles away, the traffic to get onto the grounds can delay you for an hour or two. Getting there at 2 p.m. also lets you spend some time with your friends during an especially fun time of day (read: before the aforementioned zombie horde appears). On the flip side, leave before the last headliner begins the encore. You’ll still be able to hear the music on your walk out, and you’ll hang on to your sanity by avoiding traffic. Oh, and if you think, “I’ll just get an Uber,” yeah—good luck with that. Trying to score an Uber at Coachella after dark is like finding a Trump rally sponsored by the NAACP. It’s just not going to happen. BONUS TIP: If you’re in a rush in the parking lots to catch your favorite band, split a pedicab with your friends. It’s people helping people, and it’s a welcome break from the miles you’re about to walk. Treat yo’ self.
Can You Hear Me Now?
Indio cell towers aren’t equipped to handle the smartphone needs of 80,000 people trying to post #squadgoals selfies. Even the smartest of phones can’t seem to figure out how to send a message in under 30 minutes when the sun goes down. So if you want to meet up for that Spicy Pie at 8, we suggest actually meeting up for Spicy Pie at 8. Remarkably, it works every time. You might try to phrase it like this: “Hey, Tom, if I don’t see you after that Gobi tent banger, let’s meet for Spicy Pie at 8.” No phones necessary, just like the good old days.