Happy Campers

Festival Survival Guide

Festival photo by Martin Fisch, https://www.flickr.com/photos/marfis75/2809927193
Festival photo by Martin Fisch

With UK festivals continually growing in number, they make a fun-filled weekend getaway, and whether you’re considering one of the major gatherings or a smaller bespoke event, a camper provides a little bit of luxury for your festival experience. For starters, no time is wasted on arrival pitching your tent. Turn off the ignition, put on the handbrake and you’re ready to go. Everything is ready in your van, giving you time to crack open a beer or put on a brew before the fun begins.

If you’re considering taking a camper, it’s important to check that they are permitted at your chosen site – often they’re allocated to a particular area or campsite. Campervan tickets are also often limited in number, so make sure you buy them early to guarantee your place.

What’s on when?
If you haven’t yet booked your festival trips for this year, check out our guide to some of the best festivals taking place in Britain.

What to take with you

With a camper, you have a little more room to pack some luxuries, but here’s some of the essentials you won’t want to forget…

Tickets

Obviously you won’t get in without them! Make sure you buy them in advance and not from touts, who can rip you off or sell you counterfeits – hundreds of people have been turned away from festivals with fake tickets and they’ve often spent a lot of money on them!

Money

Although there are usually ATMs at the bigger festivals, many of the smaller ones won’t have this facility so make sure you have enough to cover everything you’ll need, but not more than you can afford to lose. Festival goers are a captive market so prices are often bumped up on site. The sooner you accept that you will overpay for everything from a beer to a souvenir T-shirt, the sooner you’ll start enjoying yourself!

Clothes

Check the weather forecast before you leave and pack accordingly. Wellies or waterproof boots are always an essential – with thousands of people in a field, it doesn’t take long for it to become a sea of mud once it starts to rain! Plan your wardrobe with plenty of layers – T-shirts with jumpers, cardies or hoodies which can be tied around your waist – you don’t want to have to trudge back to the camper in the middle of your favourite set to get some warmer clothing. Combats are great if you make use of all the pockets, saving you the need to carry a bag.

Mobile phone

You need to be prepared to enter the ‘dark ages’ as many festival locations have poor mobile coverage and thousands of people in one spot all trying to use the networks can really slow them down. Although you can recharge your phone using the camper leisure battery (don’t forget your charger!), you could also try some of these tips to extend its life between charges.

Food

There are usually plenty of places to grab a bite to eat at a festival but there’s nothing better than a home made fry up in the morning after a night of revelling. There are no electric hook ups, but the camper fridge will run on the leisure battery, giving you several days of chilling capability. In addition to any fresh goods, pack plenty of easy to store and cook essentials – beans, bread, noodles, cereal bars, drinks, and plenty of bottled water.

Windsock or flag*

Make sure you can spot your camper from a distance with a bright, colourful identifier.

Toilet Roll*

A festival essential! No more needs to be said…

Wet wipes*

You will need to be prepared to let your personal hygiene slip as most festival campsites don’t have showers but wet wipes are the perfect portable solution. They have infinite other uses too, making them indispensable.

Antibacterial gel*

Stop germs dead in their tracks after a visit to the loos!

Suntan lotion

Although many festivals are more notorious for rain and mud, if the sun should make an appearance, sunburn can spoil your enjoyment of an exciting weekend.

Torch*

An absolute necessity for finding your way back to your van at the end of the night.

Earplugs*

Although it will be slightly quieter in a camper than a tent, earplugs will prevent the late night socialites stumbling around the campsite from waking you up – festival campsites are not quiet places!

A cheap camera

You will want to snap your favourite artists and keep memories of your festival experience. Using a separate camera will help to preserve the battery life on your smart phone.

Bin bags*

Useful for dirty clothes or making a dry seat in a muddy field as well as for storing your rubbish to take home with you – don’t add to the mess that is invariably left behind after a festival…

Medication

If you take any prescription medication, ensure you have sufficient to get you through the weekend. A box of paracetamol and a small first aid kit may well come in handy too.

Basics

The list is probably endless but don’t forget your deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste as well as bedding and towels.

Simplify your packing
Items marked with an asterisk in the list above will be included in Happy Campers’ dedicated festival hampers. Full details will be published as soon as they are finalised.

Choosing your pitch

Many festival campsites open a day or two before the festival starts so arriving early is a good option to make sure you grab a good spot.

Although it might seem a good idea to park near the toilets, it won’t be long before the whiff becomes unbearable, so being a little further away might be advisable. If you don’t fancy stumbling to the toilets in the middle of the night or perfecting your hovering skills, you could always consider investing in a bog in a bag (link to extras – if we are going to sell these or an alternative?), in order to avoid using notorious festival loos.

Choose a good spot to make for an easy get away at the end of the festival – you don’t want to be furthest away from the exit gate; it’s not unknown for the queues to leave Glastonbury to take 9 hours to clear.

Festival photo by Bruno Fernandes, https://www.flickr.com/photos/festivalculturadigitalbr/6477034889
Festival photo by Bruno Fernandes

Plan your day

A well-organised day can prevent you missing your favourite bands or having to leg it halfway across the festival site only to catch their last song. Study the festival running order and decide where you want to be and when. It’s inevitable that at some point, two of your favourite bands are going to be on stage at the same time and a tough decision needs to be made – is there one that you’re more likely to be able to see again? Which one will play more songs you can sing along to? If all else fails…flip a coin.

Give yourself plenty of time to move between stages – thousands of people will be milling around or making their own way to their favourite band; the crowds take time to move through and there’ll be plenty of interesting stalls and sideshows to distract your attention along the way.

Make sure you give yourself time to refuel along the way too!

Arrange a meeting place

When you first arrive, study the festival map and decide on a rendezvous spot for when you are separated from your friends. It may well be that you each want to visit different stages to see different bands or that you are separated in the crowds, but don’t rely on mobile network coverage to help you meet up again. A prearranged meeting place makes it easier to keep everyone safe.

Leaving the festival

If you are the dedicated driver, you will need to ensure that you give yourself enough time to sober up before you leave – at least 12 hours to ensure anything that may affect your driving ability (or indeed make it illegal for you to drive) has left your system – remember you could still be over the limit the following morning if you have had several drinks the night before – particularly if you’re leaving early. As mentioned above, there can often be lengthy queues to get off the site, so make sure you plan your departure carefully – particularly if you need to return your hired camper the next day.

And finally…


Have fun, enjoy yourself and look after each other.