Little Hippie has been attending festivals since 2001 when festivals were still quite small and less on the mainstream radar. Coachella was just a seedling of what it is now, Bonnaroo hadn’t happened yet, and the terms “EDM” and “festival industry” weren’t part of our common lexicon. We watched as the world caught on and the festival culture grew beyond what we ever expected. People everywhere, of every age, were drawn to the concept of spending a few days away from their reality to participate in a new community comprised of like-minded people who shared their love for music. Bonnaroo became an American rite of passage as well as a summer camp-like paradise for adults. Little Hippie owner, Taylor Swope, is one of very few people to have attended all 15 years of Bonnaroo, and the ongoing success of Little Hippie is due as much to the exposure the festival offered as it is to the inspirational festival lifestyle that provided Taylor with a guiding force in creating this company.
So how do you make the most of your festival experience?
Maybe you’ll only go to one festival ever or maybe you’ll pick one and go to it every year. Maybe you’ll go to so many you lose count. Whatever your festival frequency, you can’t make the most of it if you don’t take care of yourself and your well-being.
Being in prime form is optimal for maximizing your festival experience. The reality of festival survival is quite different from the typical attendee’s daily routine. The conditions can be much more rustic and challenging and it takes some skill and preparedness to make the best of the experience. We are here to help you not only survive, but thoroughly enjoy your summer escapades. In a world now waking up to the concept of “glamping”, Little Hippie thinks we can clock in somewhere in the middle: thriving.
Don’t sweat the circumstances
Through our journeys, we’ve encountered all extremes of weather-from blazing hot summer days to flash floods, desert windstorms and snow in May. We’ve driven through tornados, up mountains so steep we thought we’d roll backwards, and across days of flat open Midwest to get to a festival at the other end. We’ve seen vast puddles of mud full of happy people dancing, big dusty fields full of happy people dancing, and ski mountain hillsides full of happy people dancing. If we’ve learned one thing it’s this: adverse circumstances bring people together. Sometimes the worst conditions turn out to be the best times.
First things first: packing
Everyone’s packing list will always vary a bit depending on their destination and personal comforts but there are a strong set of basics that will help you survive any situation. We made a Little Hippie Survival Kit to get you started with items you’ll need and want most to get by – keyring flashlight, hand sanitizer, tissues, Zinc SPF stick, wrist sweatband, LED ring, stickers, tattoos, and coupons for other crucial festival items from Little Hippie. A packing list for Burning Man makes the rounds around this time every year, and the most recent favorite of ours is a doc you can find here. It is specific to packing in and packing out everything you need for a festival. While this is much more than you’ll ever need for a typical festival such as Bonnaroo, it will help you get a sense of the best necessities to have on hand for your adventures. Our pro tip that we can’t emphasize enough: always pack rain gear. Most times you won’t need this stuff, but that one time you do, you’re going to be SO happy you have it. One time one of us went overboard and brought a snowsuit to Burning Man, and to our very prepared surprise, it was needed when late in the week temperatures fell unexpectedly to 35 degrees.
Whatever you do take care of your shoes
Great footwear will make you happy. Pack more shoes than you think you need. Don’t plan to spend your whole day in flip flops. They break and you’ll get more tired expending the energy to walk in them if you are uncomfortable. Upgrading your footwear to sneakers or boots later in the day gives your legs a great boost of energy for evening and might help you muster the energy to rally after a hot and sunny day.
And if you do end up with no shoes, go see our good friends at Nomadic State of Mind for some new sandals!
Protect your eyes
Rain gear, check. Shoes, check. What else can’t you live without? Sunglasses! They are a necessity for all-day dancing or sunrise excursions. You will always want them. Bring extra. Be a hero and have a spare pair when your friend forgets or loses theirs. Come see us at the Little Hippie booth for a fresh assortment of new summer shades!
Your body is a temple (really)
The key to thriving in the festival environment is acknowledging that your body is a temple, which you will need to refuel every so often to keep energy up. You’ll also want to minimize the amount of energy you’re expending. Surely you’ll need a checklist of nutrition-packed foods to keep you going, but thinking about sustainable sleeping (naps are great) will go a long way too.
Festival fare may not always be the healthiest and being constantly in the sun and heat will wear you down along with the fried foods. We know we sound like your mom, but pack healthy snacks and most importantly, drink plenty of water. We have seen too many mishaps that could have been avoided with proper hydration.
It is also nice at times to bathe that temple to avoid feeling totally gross after a few days of dancing and sweating it out. A good trick is to pack a solar shower. A lot of festivals have shower trailers too. It’s usually worth waiting in the line and you will feel refreshed and ready to rage.
Be present and mindful of limits
Being present in the moment and recognizing your basic needs are the foundations to your festival thriving experience. Forcing yourself into the schedule you think you should do rather than the schedule your body can do is never going to work out. Listen to your body, be aware of your limits and cater to your personal needs to keep you going through the day.
Let yourself learn
Even if you’re a total festival noob, knowing what you like and planning for it can go a long way. If your adventure isn’t what you want it to be, that means it’s teaching you how to do it better next time. It is likely you’ll encounter many challenges and it is important to learn the lessons from all your experiences as that is one thing that will last long after the festival is over.
FOMO or “fear of missing out” is a common occurrence at festivals. There is so much going on at all times and you will want to be part of it all. You don’t want to miss all the things but you know you can’t see all the things. Sorry, but it’s true! Our tactic is to prioritize what you want to see and then let serendipity bring you to where you need to be. You would be surprised how incredible your experience can be when you just let go of an agenda and allow yourself to surrender to the flow. Just be sure you are always running on enough sustenance that your brain and body are still working in the extreme conditions!
Maximizing (and minimizing) your personality
You’ve probably heard the myth that humans only use ten percent of their brain. It’s more plausible that we only use ten percent of our personality on any given day where we may be isolated in our routines. Meanwhile, during the festival experience, our personalities come out full force, expanding rapidly into the space usually taken up by personal responsibilities and daily chores. It’s important to consider the emotional space you are taking up and how it affects your companions.
Being present in the moment will allow you to be responsive to situations as they occur. Bringing more of your personality to the party can be a good thing when it comes to your full range of skills and ability. Taking initiative and remaining aware of your environment will help you maintain calm and comfort as your adventure evolves.
It is also important to be aware of those around you. Being part of this pop-up community is not only about securing your own well-being, but helping others do the same and supporting one another for the greater good. It is easy to let loose and have fun but it is just as easy to go too far. Stay conscious of the needs of others. If you notice one of your friends fading, check in with them. Good chance you’re going to fade at some point in the weekend too, and you’ll be grateful when they check in with you.
Reducing Stress & Harm
The real key to festival thrival overall is learning how to reduce stress and harm. Creating the foundation for health (food+sleep+shade) and making considerations for needs and safety allow a whole new space to open for connecting with others, serendipitous experiences and openness to what’s surrounding you.
Let your love light shine
Take time to connect. In the midst of a big party, it’s easy to keep things surface level. Sometimes what you need is a heart to heart at away from the crowd. Let your defenses down and have conversations you might hesitate to have at home. Talk to strangers, make new friends, and enjoy the opportunity to show your sparkly self.
Also, be sure to save some energy for packing up. Don’t fight with your friends. Most disagreements occur on the last day when you’re all fried and the fun is over. Before you say harsh words to anyone, ask yourself to HALT – am I Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired? If the answer is yes, take a moment for yourself and regroup.
Leave no Trace
While not every festival follows the etiquette of ‘leave no trace’ – a mark of Burning Man – it is important to note the difference it makes. Even if you are attending a festival that will clean up after you when you leave, it is still important to be responsible for your waste and conscious about the supplies you bring and discard. What does it reflect about our experience that a weekend of festival life leaves an otherwise beautiful place looking like a trash pile? We all need to do our part to maintain a clean and sustainable society.
Most festivals provide excellent trash disposal where you can throw out, recycle, and often even compost your scraps throughout the day. Before you toss an empty cup or other waste on the concert field, look around, the closest trash can is probably not that far and you can even pick up a couple extra pieces on your way to help the collective group.
Overall, the goal is to have the best time possible and maximize the fun for yourself and everyone else involved. Come prepared and act responsibly. Be conscious of yourself and of those around you. Take care of your basic needs. Eat, sleep and hydrate. And most importantly, have fun!
Do you have suggestions or tips on how to thrive at a festival? Send us your quotes and we’ll include them in our upcoming series about thriving on the road for your summer adventure.
Festival Thrival Survey