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Surviving and thriving at Coachella

What to expect, and how to deal with it.

Coachella+goers+released+balloons+on+day+three+during+the+second+weekend+of+the+2016+festival.
Coachella goers released balloons on day three during the second weekend of the 2016 festival.

Coachella goers released balloons on day three during the second weekend of the 2016 festival.

Erik Voake

Erik Voake

Coachella goers released balloons on day three during the second weekend of the 2016 festival.

Ammi Ruiz, Staff Writer

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College students ready to dance and run around the desert at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival this weekend (or next), I hope you make your time there worth the hundreds of dollars you have undoubtedly spent in preparation for it.

I was fortunate enough to plan my first Coachella trip in 2016 with a few friends who had been there the previous year, and I’m happy to say I had an awesome time.

As great as my experience was, there are several not-so-great aspects to consider when you’re spending three full days camping on the festival grounds.

Here’s what you can expect:

Dehydration.

Don’t let it happen to you. The quickest way to spoil your festival experience is with a trip to the medical tent. It’s going to be crazy hot and dry. What won’t be dry, are the hundreds of sweaty bodies dancing all around you. If you plan on becoming one of those sweat machines, be sure to take in as much as you put out. Especially when inebriation is a factor, it’s incredibly important to keep drinking — water, that is. Be sure to pack a refillable water bottle, and keep it with you at all times. There are plenty of filling stations spread throughout the camp, so don’t waste money on bottled water.

Long lines.

Whether you’re going to the bathroom or getting a slice of pizza, you’re going to find yourself  standing in line several times a day. The worst lines will most likely be the ones to the shower stations. Unless you plan on taking one of those portable showers, bathing with water bottles or just fully committing to being a desert dirtball, wake up early to avoid waiting in line for an hour.

Port-a-potties.

It’s not the most glamorous situation. Thousands of people will be using the same mobile toilets you’re going to be using. This was definitely the worst part of my time there. You’ll see. Just try not to touch anything, bring your own toilet paper, and I shouldn’t have to tell you this part, but wash your hands.

First come, first serve.

You can’t save a camping spot for anyone. If you want to stay together, arrive together. Otherwise, good luck meeting up with friends once you’re there. The camping site is huge, and you’ll probably be busy getting to know the people next to you.

Crazy weather.

It’s going to get as hot as you would expect it to get under the sun in Indio, CA. You will sweat, even if all you’re doing is sitting on a folding chair under the shade with a miniature battery-powered fan blowing in your face. As evening approaches, the temperature will definitely drop and it may get windy. Friday night of my weekend there, it looked like a tornado hit the campgrounds.

Find out what the weather will be like before you arrive, and pay attention to weather alerts on your phone once you’re there.

Oh yeah, that reminds me.

No phones.

You might survive Coachella but your phone won’t. I highly recommend purchasing a portable cell phone charger, which can be relatively inexpensive. You may also be inclined to visit the mobile phone charging stations located on the campgrounds.

As much as you’re going to want to capture every moment of your time there, try to minimize your cell phone use. Post a picture or two on social media (if you absolutely must), record the artists you’re most stoked to see, and then put your phone away and really be mindful of the fact that you’re at Coachella while other people are wishing they were.

Yes, you spent $399 on a general admission ticket plus all of the other expenses, and you’ll have to endure the gross bathrooms and the eternal lines. But, if all goes well, like it did for me, you won’t look back and remember the lousy parts.

You’ll remember the road trip there with your friends, the palm trees, and the purple and orange sunsets behind the mountains.

You’ll remember your crazy camping neighbors. You’ll remember dancing like you’ve never danced before while you’re favorite band is playing in the background, or maybe a band you’re hearing for the first time.

So drinks lots of water, have an epic time and please, take me with you.

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