Your All-In-One Coachella Guide
It's almost here! Coachella is a 3-day music and arts festival that takes place in Indio, CA for two consecutive weekends each year. Known for it's trendy outfits, A-list attendees and headliner music, Coachella is the place to see and be seen every spring. With as glamorous and so very "LA" as Coachella seems, when I first went two years ago, I was pleasantly surprised by the normalcy of event and camaraderie between everyone there for the simple reason that everyone's there to have a great time!
Yes the pool parties and pictures of models with the latest festival trends make the event larger than life, but in reality there are around 100K people of all walks of life, wearing different clothes, attending different music sets, which makes it more approachable than it appears. Since I would have no way of knowing that without attending, I am here to share my experience last time and how I'm preparing for this year's festival to make it logistically seamless so all energy can be channeled into having fun! Heading to Coachella too? Tag me on Instagram @KelseyThisYear!
Planning + Logistics
Tickets first go on sale in May or June for the following year. During pre-sale, there's an option for a payment plan which easily breaks up the expense over about 6 months. I like doing this option if available. If you try to grab tickets during the regular sale (usually January), you'll have to pay in full up front.
Tickets sell out within the hour usually, so you'll want to follow Coachella's social handles on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter to make sure you know when tickets will go on sale to get in queue. Luckily I got our tickets in during pre-sale this year, since six of us tried to get tickets for my friend during the regular sale and none of us got them. Definitely plan ahead if you know you want to go the following year!
If official tickets are sold out, go through a verified source to buy tickets such as StubHub or directly from a friend if you know someone. There are lots of sketchy sites and offerings out there, so check for legitimacy before giving anyone unknown your money. StubHub is great since you'll get refunded if it's a scam. This year we weren't able to get shuttle passes during the regular sale, so we were able to buy our shuttle-only passes through them with ease.
Where to Stay
To camp or not to camp? This is likely the biggest question a Coachella-goer must figure out. I've never camped at Coachella before, so can't give you the low-down but I've heard from friends who have gone and camped that it gets cold at night! Check out Coachella's camping guide for more information if you're camping and be sure to be prepared for cold nights and keep your belongings safe!
For us non-campers, there are tons of options if you plan ahead! Like the rest of Coachella, stuff sells out quickly, so find your group and browse places as soon as you know you'll be attending! We booked an AirBnB in September to make sure we could find a nice place to fit our group size.
The town of Indio has some hotels and time shares which would be the closest to the Polo grounds. Two years ago, we stayed in Indio meaning we could chill by the pool for longer instead of spending it on the road.
Palm Springs is about 30 minutes + from the festival, but is a quaint town to stay in and has a lot of the day parties if that's what you're interested in. There are plenty of option types in Palm Springs from entire houses to rent, quaint hotels (hello The Saguaro!), and higher end options if your budget permits. I'll be staying here this year and am really looking forward to it!
We'll be flying into LAX, meeting some friends and renting a car to head to Palm Springs. I always search my company discounts when renting cars, or deal sites such as Hotwire will have good deals too, especially if you're booking with flights or a hotel. I also recently heard about Turo which is AirBnB for cars, where you can rent someone's car, typically at a lower price. I'd love to hear in the comments below if you've tried it!
Remember that LA is known for bad traffic, so plan accordingly!
Also, let's be eco-friendly and carpool when you can!
Once you're at your lodging for the weekend, there are a few ways to easily get to the festival. Last time, we drove to the festival which has free daily parking, making it easy to roll in whenever you want. The parking lots aren't too far from the entrance, so this is an easy option, as long as you have a DD! Leaving at night can be a bit of a backup, and be sure to bring a coat since that hike gets chilly!
This year, we got shuttle passes, which will pick you up from a variety of locations around Palm Dessert and take you to the festival. We got ours a bit over original selling price, at around $83 a piece after shipping. A friend who went last year was pleasantly surprised with the ease of the shuttles, so I'm hoping that's our experience this year!
Coachella has a full guide to parking which you can check out here!
The most important note with parking is to be safe! Make sure you have a responsible driver at all times! It's obvious, but I still want to reiterate it!
Team up with friends and reserve a locker! You'll have just enough belongings that it'll be nice to put them away and not carry things all day. It gets cold at night, so definitely bring a coat and stick it in there during the day. You can reserve lockers here.
Now that you're booked, it's time to start getting excited! I love listening to Coachella's Spotify Playlist on shuffle at work and saving songs and artists I like to take note of who I'll want to see.
The beauty of Coachella is that all of the artists who perform were chosen because they're good, so I love exploring stages and finding new artists I like. Two years ago, Glass Animals was an artist my friend wanted to check out, and they're now one of my favorites!
Since we stayed in Indio last time, we didn't venture to Palm Springs for any of the day parties. This post by Travel Grom looks pretty comprehensive and lists all of the events, locations and how to RSVP (if possible).
Now for the fun stuff! Putting together three Coachella-worthy outfits for the weekend can be a daunting feat. As I mentioned earlier, I was really nervous about this two years ago. The main takeaways I had from last time are to be chic but comfortable, wear good, close-toed shoes and bring a coat for the evening. We're in the dessert, so everything will get dusty and you'll be sitting on the grass, so maybe don't wear white bottoms without something to sit on.
Below are some of the pieces I'm loving for this year's festival!
My general outfit outline is:
- Shorts + Top + Sneakers
- Dress + Boots + Bandana
- Jean Skirt + Top + Booties
Be sure to follow me on Instagram to check out my outfits!
My Coachella Picks
What to Pack
I've started your packing list for the weekend! If you're camping, you'll want to do some extra research about what to bring for your campsite.
Clothes + Style
- 3 'looks'
- Close-toed shoes
- Jacket(s) for the evening
- Dry shampoo
- Hydrating mist - this can help you cool down when it gets toasty!
- Hair tie
- Mole skin - for any blisters
- Hydrating face mask to use at night
- Allergy meds
- Coachella wrist bands (...just sayin that'd suck if you forgot them)
- Portable phone charger + cord
- Safe place to store your ID + $$
- A granola bar or snack you can bring into the festival
- Costco Card - you'll definitely want to make a Costco run if you're staying in a house
- Portable speaker for your AirBnB
- Pool floatie! (if you have a pool)
Especially if you're staying in Palm Springs, know that you're still in civilization, so if you forget anything at home, or realize on Friday that you need something, don't stress and head to a CVS to pick it up!
During the Festival
I can't wait until Friday! It's been two years since I last week to Coachella, so I absolutely cannot wait to go again! So far, you've heard my logistics, outfit and packing recommendations. All of that prep work has helped you get to the main event - Friday when the gates open!
Compared to the other music concerts and festivals I've been to such as Sasquatch!, the biggest difference is that Coachella is done at such a massive scale. There is so much throughout the polo grounds to do, see and eat that it can be overwhelming where to start.
Definitely plan out your schedule and some back up artists who you want to see, and use that as a starting point.
The food options within the festival are amazing since they bring in a lot of pop up shops from LA, meaning it's not your typical gross festival food. Eater 24 put out a food lineup, and keep scouring Instagram for pics of unique, fun foods to find and try. I always follow influencers who I know are there to get an idea of things to check out and what looks cute.
Cell service can be challenging, so don't expect to have data the whole time. Two years ago, we got the best texting when we turned off LTE. We also committed in our group text to add a time stamp in each text. Since service was so bad, this was a way we knew the genuine time someone texted to try to meet up for example, instead of assuming it was sent when you receive it. This was a simple adding 7:43 for example at the end of your text.
For all the fun you're having, you'll be in the heat and dancing, so make sure to hydrate consistently throughout the day! Remember this is a three day marathon. I recently came across a screenshot of my FitBit results from two years ago, and in one day I walked 32K+ steps! That's impossible to do without drinking water, so be proactive about it!
Most importantly have fun and be safe! Everyone's going to Coachella to have fun, so recognize that in everyone's experiences, be nice and make new friends! Who knows who you'll meet from around the world. I hope these recommendations have given you some tips for your upcoming Coachella trip!