Tips and Tricks for Your Festival Road Trip
We all have our go-to tips for festival newbies, but the stakes change as your travel mileage increases. Whether you’re preparing to take on EDC and Electric Forest back-to-back or looking to turn your festival road trip into a full-on vacation, it’s a wise idea to add to your festival survival tool belt before hitting the road.
We found five Headliners who have planned epic travel around festivals, and we chatted with them about the experience. Below, check out their tips and tricks for surviving back-to-back festival weekends, adapting when things go wrong, and making the most out of a long-haul road trip.
Name: Massiel Scheibner
Home base: Bay Area, CA
Works in: Tech
My festival story: Two years ago, I spontaneously bought a ticket to Electric Forest. I was already going to EDC for my birthday weekend with a group of my closest friends, but I planned on going to Forest alone.
We flew into Las Vegas on Thursday. You take it easy the first night if you’re going to pace yourself. EDC was amazing and exhausting, as usual. I accidentally missed my Monday morning flight, so I flew back to the Bay on Tuesday. I was only home for a few hours before I had to head back to the airport to fly to Michigan for Forest. I booked my plane ticket last-minute; it cost me around $1,000. Electric Forest was worth the money a million times over, though.
I got there and pretty much slept all day on Wednesday, I was so beat. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into—I was so unprepared, coming from California with my little suitcase—but it was an amazing experience. I immediately made friends with a couple camping near me, and I ended up hanging out with them all weekend. I camped with them last year when I went to Forest again. That time, though, I booked my flights in advance.
One thing you need to survive: Bananas and coconut water—you have to stay hydrated to stay alive.
Best festival tip: Don’t bring too much stuff. At my first Forest, I ended up losing my camera. Now I always ask myself, “Do I really need this?” Especially if you’re coming from far away, just bring the necessities. But as much as possible, bring things to share. There’s always going to be something you forgot to bring, so it’s nice to have something to give. It builds community. Plus, there will always be that one person—like me my first year—that arrives needing one of everything.
Name: Jasmine Brilliante
Home base: Seattle, WA
Works in: Bartending
My festival story: People don’t believe me when I tell them this story, but it happened just like this. A couple years ago, my best friend Christine and I planned to go to EDC and then Electric Forest. We flew into EDC from Seattle and met up with a friend of mine from Colorado. After the festival was over, she drove us 12 hours back to her place, where we were supposed to meet up with the person who was going to drive us to Electric Forest.
We were almost all the way to Colorado when I get a call from our other friend saying she totaled her car, so she couldn’t drive us to Michigan anymore. Luckily, Christine had met these two dudes at EDC, Tyler and Nathan, who were driving to Electric Forest. They were passing through Colorado too, so Christine texted them, asking if we could hitch a ride—and they were cool with it.
They had this hippie van—it was painted all these psychedelic colors, the whole deal. I remember buying fireworks on the way and popping them out of the windows, just being really crazy. We got a flat tire along the way and drove through hailstorms and lightning storms. Two hours out of Electric Forest, we got arrested for having weed on us—it isn’t legal in Michigan like it is in Seattle—and spent a night in jail.
The hippie van was impounded, so for the last leg of our journey, Christine and I took a $100 taxi from the jail to the festival. But we made it! It was the craziest—and the best—trip of my life.
After all of that, the festival itself was honestly life-changing. Everyone was there for the vibes. By the last day of Electric Forest, I was so lazy that I was in sweats and no makeup—after having planned out all my outfits and makeup super cute for EDC—and people still told me I was beautiful.
One thing you need to survive: Fruits and veggies. Bananas and apples are cheap and don’t have to be refrigerated. Eat healthy, and you’ll avoid getting sick.
Best festival tip: Drive your own car! And get rest whenever you can. It was really crazy, but we slept as much as we could when we could. It was 12 hours to Colorado, and then 18 hours to Michigan from there. So, it’s also important that you do the trip with a group of your good friends, because you’re going to be with each other for a really long time.
Name: Lawrence Lam
Home base: Seattle, WA
Works in: Software
My festival story: The year I did back-to-back festivals, I flew into Vegas on Friday for EDC. Then on Monday afternoon, I flew back to Seattle and went back to work for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. That Friday—a week after my flight to Vegas—I drove two hours out of Seattle to a two-day festival closer to home.
The hardest part about doing back-to-back weekends, since I went to work in between, was shifting my focus from work to play. I knew that I only had to wait three days until my next festival—usually, once people finish one, they’re anticipating the next one for a while. I loved that I didn’t have to wait that long.
One thing you need to survive: My big thing is always water. If we’re ever out of water, I’m always the one that tells everyone to stop, let’s go get some. I find the water stations first.
Best festival tip: Know yourself. I’m not the kind of festivalgoer that’s there from when it opens till when it closes. I have to draw a line. It’s important to understand your limits. If you can’t stay up 16 hours a day, don’t do it. If it’s two or three in the morning, and I’m exhausted and my feet hurt, I’ll leave. I’ll take a nice six-hour break and then come back tomorrow.
You can also plan a little bit if you’re doing back-to-back festivals that have some lineup overlap. I had it easy, because a few of the artists I wanted to see played both festivals. I didn’t need to push myself to see them at EDC if they were on later than I wanted to be up. I could just see them the next weekend instead.
Name: Taylor Olsen
Home base: Los Angeles, CA
Works in: Retail
My festival story: We drove to EDC from L.A., which wasn’t so bad. Obviously, EDC is physically draining, so after it was over, we took 24 hours just to sleep before we left for Electric Forest. We packed up my little Chevy to the top and drove the 30 hours straight through, only stopping for gas and food. I was with two of my best friends, and that drive was where some of the best conversations of the trip happened.
We got to our campsite around 6am on Thursday morning. We slept for a few hours, and then we just started all over again. The adrenaline kicks in, and you can keep going.
The festival itself leaves you speechless. Every single person should experience Electric Forest at least once in their lives; it changed my perspective on festivals. Now, I search for the ones that are transformative. Plus, being across the country was a new and awesome experience. It’s the same scene, but the vibe is totally different.
One thing you need to survive: For road trips, tunes are a huge thing—that’s an obvious one. I’m super into SoundCloud, so it was all about the discovery on that trip.
Best festival tip: If you are driving from EDC, I’d do it differently than we did. Being tired while driving is really dangerous, so for safety reasons, I would suggest stopping somewhere for a night. Getting actual sleep would be good. Also, make sure you take a reliable car: It’s 2,000 miles there and 2,000 miles back. But if you decide to go last-minute, it’s way cheaper than flying.
Name: Mike McBirnie
Home base: Los Angeles, CA
Works in: Teaching
My festival story: My girlfriend Tess has never been to a music festival, so this year we’re planning a three-week road trip surrounding Electric Forest. We’re big on the outdoors, so we’ll be camping mostly.
We’re heading out from L.A. the Saturday before Electric Forest starts, and our plan is to straight-shot it up the 15 all the way to Grand Teton National Park, where we’ll camp for two or three nights. Then we’ll cut across Wyoming, head east, and hopefully be within striking distance of the Electric Forest grounds on Thursday morning. When we get to the festival, we’ll be camping right in the forest.
Afterward, we’re going to continue on to Jacksonville, Florida, which is another 17 hours. On the way back we’ll play it by ear, but we’ll probably take a couple of rest days and stop in Nashville and Memphis for a bit.
One thing you need to survive: Synthetic clothes. I’m not bringing much cotton, because it’s hard to clean on the go. Synthetics are great because you can dunk them underwater, ring them out, and say with a straight face that they’re clean.
Best festival tip: Don’t go in with expectations. Neither Tess nor I have been to Electric Forest before, and we have no idea what to expect. I like it that way.
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