An Insider's Guide To Surviving Coachella
You've got your outfit sorted, but what else do you need to survive a weekend of music and fashion in the desert? Julie Carroll tells all...
One the lucky ones to nab a ticket to Coachella (happening April 14-16 & April 21-23)? We got the low-down from avid traveller and Coachella alumni Julie Carroll about how to plan your visit, what to expect once inside the grounds, handbag must-haves and where to spot some of your fave celebrities!
Julie Does Coachella...
Coachella is set at the Empire polo grounds in Indio, California. It’s real pretty with Palm Trees and sunsets but it can also be a bit of a dust bowl. Hay fever sufferers be warned - bring your tablets!
On our final night we were met with a sand storm that sent some running for cover. This is where a fashionable bandana comes in to protect you from the dust. My favourites are by Pendleton (also available via Urban Outfitters). You’ll see most of the staff and festival regulars sporting these either over their faces or around necks for sun protection. On that note - suntan lotion is a must. It gets hot and there is little shelter. Other toiletries to consider : Headache tablets, eye drops, nose spray, tissues, hand sanitiser and of course lip balm.
This is the desert so it’s hot during the day and cold at night. Have a jacket in your stylish back pack and maybe a pair of jeans/leggings and trainers/boots for when the sun goes down.
Some people go to Coachella simply to dress up and be seen. Wear what YOU are comfortable in - don’t feel like you have to turn into a faux Bohemian flower child if it’s not your style. Most people are there for the music and will be in shorts, t-shirts and flip flops.
Be yourself but be your rock star self and have some fun with your wardrobe and hair! I love Lack of Colour and Patagonia for hats/caps, One Teaspoon shorts and I can't go past some classic high tops by Nike or Adidas.
Once you enter the grounds you’re there until home time - it’s going to be a long day. Research Coachella forums to find out as much you can before you go. They have lockers to stash your gear during the day, water bottle tops up, restrictions on what you can and can’t bring in.
Make your day easier by being in the know. If you need snacks to get through - bring them - there is really great food to be had at the festival but you don’t want to miss your fave band because you were waiting in line for a taco!
I love non-melty Payday bars and Tootsie Pops but then I’m a sucker for American candy… In recent years the event organisers have realised the value of having good coffee available so keep and eye out for cold brew. Alcohol is restricted at the festival and only certain beers/drinks are available.
If you’re not camping onsite then don’t head into the festival too early. 2-3 hours before your first band hits the stage is ideal. Give yourself an hour to get there and another hour to get through the security at gates but do your homework beforehand to see if you can access through gates that are quicker. Your wristband is your key to where you can and can’t go.
Make sure you put some time aside for checking out the stalls, especially created artworks and riding the ferris wheel when you plan your schedule.
Getting there - The Shuttle packages available through the Coachella site or car services (like Uber) are the way to go. You may also want to do side trips during the day to a pool party or to the Desert Outlet Mall for shopping bargains. A lot of the hotels in Palm Springs/La Quinta offer bikes for a quick ride around town to explore. If you’re driving down from LA then make sure to take part in ‘CarChella’ - decorate your car and you could win lifetime passes to the festival!
The VIP areas are where the Celebs hang and there are always amazing celebs at Coachella! I was lucky enough to have an Access all Areas wristband so I got to dance next to Alexander Skarsgard, stand in front of Katy Perry - which made spying on her really difficult - and sat opposite Paris Hilton as she watched me eat lunch - which was just plain weird.
Don’t worry if you didn’t get the VIP pass, you’ll still be able to sit right outside the VIP area by the main stage and perve from there. The celebs also come out of hiding on their way to see the bands - check out the side entrances by the front of the stage. Some are happy to have their pic taken, some not. Just ask politely and discretely if you get the chance or play it cool and pretend you're the star. I got mistaken for Lindsay Lohan. I'm not sure I should be telling people that.