In just a few short weeks the gates of Lake San Antonio will open up to welcome us once again to our home for five days of music, art, expression, community, and love – Lightning in a Bottle. With that in mind it’s time to start, if you haven’t already, preparing for the beautiful long weekend we have waiting for us. Because LIB is an immersive camping-only festival, it’s important to start getting sorted early on. You have to keep in mind everything from what you’re wearing to what you’re sleeping in to what you’ll be eating and so on….it can seem like a lot to tackle all at once. Not to fear, as somewhat of an LIB veteran (this will by my third consecutive year attending), I’ve pooled together all the helpful tips, plans, and tricks my friends and I utilized to ensure a safe and successful weekend of debauchery.
1. Water – bring more than you think you’ll need.
I cannot stress this enough. Bring water, water, water!! Water is love, water is life. It can get hot out near Lake San Antonio, and although there will be a lake to cool off in, you should be drinking at least 1.5 gallons of water per day to keep you feeling good and healthy. LIB is a huge festival that requires a lot of walking and energy to get around, so it’s important to stay hydrated. What I suggest is buying the big dollar gallons from your local grocery stores and calculating how much you’ll need based on how many days you’ll be there. For example, if you’re arriving Thursday, and leaving Monday, that’s 1.5 gallons x 5 days = 7.5, round that up to bringing 8 gallons of water to drink. I also suggest bringing a reusable bottle/canteen to refill on the go. My first LIB I got severely dehydrated because I did not drink enough water and missed out on all of Sunday because I was sick. Don’t let it happen to you!
2. Nourish + replenish your body.
Foooooood. Aside from water, this is the most important factor in making sure you have the best possible weekend ever. You are what you eat, as they say. A camping stove is the best thing you can buy for yourself, along with some propane tanks to get the food cooking. A cooler and money for ice ($6 for a 7lb bag) is also important to remember. Dry ice is another option to bring to keep your food + ice cooler for longer, if you know how to handle it correctly. Easy-to-eat and ready-to-make meals should be your go-to’s, food items like ramen, mac-n-cheese, pasta, etc. Sandwich ingredients are a good idea, along with fruits and veggies to keep those energy levels high. Snacks like granola bars, trail mix, chips and salsa, etc. help as filler meals between breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Also, to spice up any meal or alcoholic beverage, I suggest TAJIN. The greatest invention since sliced bread. LIB also has an expansive array of food vendors, so if you can afford to splurge on some bomb vegan and non-vegan food, I highly suggest it. Vegan gravy fries are available 24 hours a day (you just have to find them). Pizza from the Dough Lab is a longtime favorite. Don’t be afraid to treat your taste buds to something different.
3. Be prepared for the elements.
The heat at LIB can get up to the high 90s during the day and drop down to the low 60s at night. Because of this erratic weather change, it’s important to pack all sorts of different kinds of clothes to be prepared for anything. Bringing cool, lighter clothes for the day will help keep you a little cooler. Packing layered, warmer clothes for the night will keep you warm and ready to dance all night long. Plan your outfits ahead and sort all your clothes into ziploc bags by which day you’ll wear what to keep them organized, clean, and easy to find. It gets windy at LIB, so during the day when you’re not at your tent, removed the tarp of your EZ up and make sure to really stake down everything in your campsite. I can’t even tell you how many flying tents and EZ ups I’ve seen in the past 2 years. You will also be doing a lot of walking for the weekend, and while those towering platforms and stylish sneakers do look good on you, be sure to bring extra pairs of shoes (boots are recommended) to give your feet a break and allow you to walk more comfortably. It also gets very dark at night, so I suggest solar powered lights, lanterns, and headlights to keep you and your campsite lit all through the night. Nothing is worse than trying to use a port-a-potty in the dark – trust me.
4. Stay calm, cool, and collected.
Beating the heat at a festival can seem like an endless struggle. You wake up early, sweating because the unforgiving sun and heat has already taken place for the day and you feel like there’s nothing you can do….but there is! For starters, bringing some sort of shade structure for your tent is imperative. Whether it be an EZ up or a heat deflecting tarp, anything that creates more shade for you is worth bringing. Also important – A CHILLY TOWEL. If you don’t own one, get one, ASAP. It’s a towel made from a unique fabric that stays wet and cold for hours. Invest in some hand fans, misters, and parasols too to keep you cool and shaded while exploring the festival. Make sure to bring your favorite inflatable because the lake will be fully functional this year! Past years have always left it dry but swimming is a 100% possibility at LIB this year which means keeping cool will be as easy as taking a dip.
5. Pack it in, pack it out.
LIB is a “Leave No Trace” festival. For those unfamiliar with the concept, “Leave No Trace” means making sure you leave the land more beautiful than when you found it, taking any MOOP (Matter Out Of Place) that you brought in with you, out with you. Make sure that any items you bring are removed from their packaging beforehand to make your life easier and lighten your trash load. Avoid single-use items like plastic/paper dishware (I suggest bringing reusable plates, cups, utensils, etc.) and packs of single-use water bottles. I also highly suggest a pocket ashtray for any of my smoker friends out there. Bring extra trash bags so that you have more than enough to take out all MOOP, and so that you can double bag everything so it doesn’t leak, rip, or spill. Once the weekend has ended, you’ll take all your bags out with you to dispose of them yourself in a local dumpster, waste management site, etc. Also important – make and mark your bags to sort recyclables vs. non-recyclables. And be sure to leave extra space in your car so that you have room for your trash when you leave! Remember, leave it better, leave it beautiful.
6. Bring a wagon!
As I mentioned before, LIB is a large, lengthy festival. There’s so much to see and do, spread out all along the peninsulas of Lake San Antonio. Car camping and early arrival passes are the way to go to get optimal spots but realistically not everyone will be able to get those. If you park too far, or are camped too far from where you plan on being most of the weekend, a wagon will be the difference between multiple trips spent dragging heavy items through the venue and being able to neatly and easily transport what you need from one spot to the next. Whether it be bringing your tent + cooler from the car to the camping spot or bringing chairs + furniture to the dance floor, a wagon is a clutch item to have just in case. Which brings me to my next point….
7. BYOF – Bring Your Own Furniture
LIB is unique in a number of different ways, but perhaps one of my favorites is that the entire festival can feel like your living room, in a sense. You’re able to bring just about any kind of furniture to any of the stages – lawn chairs, EZ ups, couches, beds, I’ve seen it all and more at the Thunder, Lightning, and Woogie stages. Aside from that, bringing furniture is essential to any campsite. It gives your camp a communal feeling where people can sit together, laugh, and just relax. There are many options available on the market, from your average fold out chairs to huge inflatable sofas, there are a variety of ways to make your campsite more comfortable.
8. Pace yourself.
LIB, if you’re in it for the long haul, is a 5-6 day experience. With so much to see, hear, and do, it can seem overwhelming to those who want to accomplish as much as possible. But, take a breathe. No matter how much you see, hear, and do, there will always be something you miss because you are out doing something else. Don’t let that bother you. You are exactly where you need to be, at all times in life. What you experience is so much more important than what you think you miss out on. With that being said, it’s important to rest when you need to. You could be at the best set you’ve ever seen, but if you don’t rest, you won’t be enjoying it. This ties into the water and food tips – listen to your body. Sleep when you’re tired, don’t push yourself to the limits of exhaustion every day, because you it will take its toll on your physical, mental, and emotional state.
9. Explore, be curious, and try new things.
There is so much to do at LIB that, as I said before, it can feel overwhelming. Just take it one step at a time. Walk around, adventure out to places you normally wouldn’t. Don’t set any sort of pre-scheduled plan, just go with the flow. There are so many hidden gems like art, workshops, seminars, yoga, a casino & burlesque show…and so much more that I can’t even begin to get into. Get after it, go and do something you’ve never done before. And don’t be afraid to explore all of the stages – from Thunder to Lightning to Woogie to the Grand Artique to the Pagoda and Favela Bars, the plethora of music is unlimited and diverse. With so many cool experiences to be had, every day at LIB will feel like a new adventure.