There’s nothing like your first taste of good electronic dance music that speaks to every fiber of your being. The feelings evoked from this music are felt in so many ways by so many people, and this is evident by the huge turn out to festivals across the world. That carefree feeling of being at a concert or festival is exclusive to these types of events, and that euphoric feeling comes at a steep price. Festival tickets these days range anywhere from $200-$500. And that’s just general admission. Not to mention the cost of travel, hotel accommodations, Uber rides, food, and drinks, all things we may not think about when we first see that immaculate festival lineup. Here’s my guide to the back side of the festival, the one no one really talks about, budgeting and saving your sweet coins to be able to participate in the madness. Hang in there with me, and you may be well on your way to your dream festival very soon.

Budgeting

The day has come, the lineup has finally dropped for that enticing new festival you’ve had your eye on. You grab your credit card and dash to your computer to buy a ticket without any other thought in the world. BUT WAIT. Can you really afford everything that goes along with selling your soul and purchasing this ticket? You’re probably laughing in your head right now saying, “regardless of whether I can afford it or not, I’m going to find a way to go anyway”. Well I’m right there with ya. And here’s how you should start making that dream a reality:

In the notes section of your phone, create a budget, for example:

FAIRYLAND FESTIVAL 2018 BUDGET
Ticket: $300
Hotel/Camping ticket & gear: $400
Gas: $100
Tolls: $20
Parking: $30
Food: $150
Drinks: $100
Outfits: $100
Emergency extra: $100 (aka Papa John’s delivery)

(This budget is based on my personal needs, which tend to be very minimal. Don’t lie to yourself and set a small budget when you know you’re going to go over the limit. Be realistic and list everything you can think of so there’s no financial surprises along the way).

Arrangements

Now that you’ve made your budget, it’s time to begin the process of
booking travel and hotel accommodations. I recommend getting your ticket as soon as the lineup drops, because prices will increase, and why pay more for the same thing just because you waited? Next comes the hotel or camping arrangements. Camping tickets will be sold on the festival website, so get those the same time you get your ticket because they’re likely to sell out. Hotel wise, I recommend making your reservation as soon as you buy your ticket. Use Google Maps to familiarize yourself with the area, and I recommend Hotels.com for finding a hotel in the vicinity, because it gives you the option to pay now or pay when you arrive. It’s also easy to make changes to your reservation, and there’s no cancellation fee until within 24 hours of your stay. It doesn’t hurt to book your space so you can feel secure with sleeping arrangements for after the festival. Oh, and buy a Camelbak so you can take advantage of the free water they offer at most festivals.

Volunteering

Many festivals offer work trade or volunteer opportunities that allow you to enjoy most of the festival in exchange for your time. The process involves putting down a ticket deposit (so you don’t get into the festival and just run off) and working a set number of hours per day doing tasks like handing out wristbands, working the water stations, picking up litter, monitoring the gates, and more. These simple tasks can be fun if you do it with a friend, and you’ll save a lot of money! Electric Daisy Carnival and many other festivals also offer paid work opportunities as bartenders, show girls, food tent workers, security, and more. Jump on these fantastic opportunities early and you will GET PAID to attend a festival. Can’t go wrong with that!

Saving

With almost 15 festivals and 100 concerts under my belt, I’ve had to make financial changes throughout my lifetime to be able to afford this lifestyle. You may want to sit down and assess how much money you’re actually spending per week just to live, and make slight changes so you’re able to save money. Everyone’s weakness is food. The convenience of going out to eat every day is hard to resist, but the average meal is $12, and $12 twice a day (lunch & dinner) for a week is $168. That’s $168 that could be going towards your $400 hotel accommodations. Take a trip to the grocery store and purchase a week’s worth of veggies, pasta/rice, and a protein, and challenge yourself to keep the bill under $50. You’d be surprised at how much food you can actually purchase for $50 if you stick to these 3 basic food groups. AND you can upload your receipts to the Ibotta app and get cash back for your purchases. You’ve now saved $118, AND you have enough food to last you through the week.

Every time you find yourself wanting to purchase something leading up to festival weekend, think to yourself, “am I willing to go without something at the festival just so I can have this now?” Making sacrifices leading up to festival weekend will allow you to purchase everything you need for your special event, because after all, it’s the most important thing, and not getting that grandé mocha latte now will allow you to purchase an ice-cold water bottle at 3pm after camping the night before, when the sun’s beating down on you & you’re busting it down at a Fisher set. You’ll thank yourself later for making those sacrifices, trust me.

Speaking of camping, do yourself a favor and purchase a mini gas stove for camping festivals. Cooking food yourself is so much cheaper than buying it at the festival. At the last festival I went to I was able to cook when I got back to my tent in the wee hours of the morning, and people walking by smelled my food and were so jealous because they were unable to purchase food at that hour. DO IT!

As you can see, I’m a writer. I love what I do and I’ve found ways to get paid for it to support my festival addiction. Luckily for you, you don’t have to be a professional writer to make money off your essays. Mass upload your essays to Cash4essays and gain some serious cash for all your efforts that were wasted on your high school English teacher who had a mug that said, “don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee”. They Paypal the money straight to your account and they don’t post your essay anywhere, they just use it for internal research on writing techniques. You’ll thank me later when you’re paying for your EDC ticket with cash from your long-forgotten essays.

You’ve worked so hard to save every penny for this special event, now all you’ve gotta do is continue to practice a bit of financial restraint when you arrive. It’s easy to forget about your budget and blow all your hard-earned money the first day. Only bring the money that’s necessary for the day into the festival so you’re not tempted to aimlessly spend, and make sure to add in a little for your emergency fund. Food at festivals is expensive, so if you didn’t budget for it, make sure to eat a big meal before you arrive at the event.

I saved my favorite tip for last, one that’s saved me thousands of dollars over the course of my partying career. A FLASK. Here I’ve linked one that can hold AN ENTIRE 750ml BOTTLE of alcohol. Drinks inside the festival can cost you $100 per day or more, and I promise you the drinks they sell for triple the price don’t get you any more drunk than a bottle you can purchase at the liquor store (you can upload this receipt to Ibotta too for even more cash back). Oh, and don’t forget to share your abundance of liquor with your rave family, because after all, you’re now the financially inclined, adequately prepared, exceedingly organized rave mom that every rave family deserves. You’re welcome.