I am so excited to share with you all of my favorite tips and tricks on car camping at Coachella. We definitely upped our car camping game last year over the previous year, with each year becoming much more awesome and a little more extravagant! For the small price of $113, the car camping pass will transform the way you and a few friends experience Coachella. If you are a part of a car caravan with a group friends, be sure to stay right next to each other in the car camping line the entire time, in order to get car spots right next to each other in the campgrounds.
If you show up to Coachella unprepared, the dessert will definitely take its toll on you, but if you follow my advice below, you will have the best weekend of your life!
The 5 Most Important Coachella Necessities
- Pop-up EZ Tent Cabana – this is easily the most important item at your campsite! This will be a lifesaver when it is 2pm in the afternoon and the temperatures are in the 90’s, or possibly even the 100’s. While both your tent and car can provide you shade, you will definitely want a large, shaded area to hang out in all morning and in-between music sets throughout the afternoon.
- Folding Camping Chair – you will spend more time than you realize at your campsite, which is a good thing! You will want to have a comfortable chair to sit in, especially to eat and drink. Odds are, you will spend most of your days walking (sometimes running) from set to set. Each morning you will look forward to sitting in a comfortable chair and at the end of a long day (2am or so) many people go back to camp to continue the party, so chairs are perfect then too!
- Cooler and these Ice Packs – For our group of 4, we used three coolers this year. One for food, and the other two for mostly drinks like Gatorade, water, and alcoholic beverages. All three of our coolers were Coleman and held up super well in the early summer heat. The first year, we stopped to get ice in Palm Springs and it lasted less than 24 hours after we got there. They sell ice in the campgrounds, but at $10 or more a bag, and you will definitely need a few bags towards the third and fourth day. The cooler ice packs we invested in this year worked so well! Everything was still cold in the coolers after 48 hours, and we didn’t have to invest in buying expensive ice until the third day. We also bring this 5 Gallon Drink Dispenser that we fill with water throughout the trip, so that we don’t have to rely on filling our cooler space with bottles of water.
- Hydration Pack or Reusable Water Bottle – The hydration pack is one of the best investments you can make when going to a music festival, especially Coachella. They have free water stations inside the festival grounds for you to refill it throughout the night. The hydration pack, along with the reusable water bottle, will keep you from spending upwards of $4 per bottle of water at some of the stands, and you will be desperate for water. With all of that gorgeous sunshine, hours of walking, standing, dancing, and so on, you will be so glad you invested in something that will keep you hydrated.
- Sunscreen – The worst way to ruin Coachella is to forget to wear sunscreen and achieve a terrible sunburn the first day there. Think of it like you are going on a tropical vacation (you kind of are), but you wouldnt want to spend all of that money booking a trip to an ocean destination, only to get there and get a terrible sunburn the first day that ruined the remaining days there. Coachella is the same way. They provide shade in each tent, but if you get a bad sunburned, that will only add to the dehydration you might already feel, as well as keep you from dancing and really enjoying the festival.
Food and Drinks to Bring to Coachella Car Camping
Here are most of the things I pack in our coolers and bags with each year:
- Chips (tortilla, potato, etc.)
- Peanut Butter
- Nut mix/Trail mix
- Energy bars (Larabars and Clif Bars are my fav)
- Fruit Snacks
- Cheese slices (for sandwiches)
- Deli Meat
- Sliced pineapple
- Beer and Alcohol (no glass)
- Coconut water
- Orange Juice
Tips and Tricks for Coachella Car Camping
- Gas up your car in Indio right before you get into the car camping line. You never know when you might need some AC to cool off and to charge your phone and devices without the worry of your battery dying.
- GET THERE EARLY! We drive from San Francisco, so if you are driving over 6 hours, take my advice. The line for car camping will be allowed to start forming around 8ish, with the first cars in line beginning to enter the campsites at 9am. We left at 11pm the night before, which put us there around 7am, with a few stops for gas along the way. This was perfect timing because we were able to circle around until the line started to form, and the line is a PARTY.
- Bring your patience and your music because each car is searched by 2 festival workers, so you can imagine the time it takes for 2 people to look through a packed car for anything illegal or harmful.
- Extra fully-charged external batteries to charge your cell – you will be on it listening to music, taking Snapchat videos, pictures, etc. more than you think.
- Tarps, flags, and blankets to hang on the sides of your pop-up tent at camp. They will keep the sun out from multiple angles and you can also use them to lay on the grass.
- Portable speaker to jam out to music at your campsite all morning and after the festival wraps up each night (between 12-2am).
- Splurge on the food in the campgrounds and also in the festival grounds, because its unreal and mouth watering – we eat some breakfasts and every dinner at one of the many food stands.
- Bring layers of clothes – I know you want to be high fashion or rocking the festival look, but when the temperature swings from 90 degrees to 60 degrees in a matter of a few hours, your immune system and body will thank you for layers.
- Earplugs are EVERYTHING. I am a light sleeper and besides the fact that I am dead tired each night when I roll into bed around 3am and wake up each morning when the sun comes up, earplugs in both ears allows you a full nights sleep with little interruption. People at Coachella mean seriously business and they can party ALL. NIGHT. LONG. which is cute and fun the first day or two, but you will be desperate for a good night’s sleep and the earplugs drowned out all of the music and ongoing partying throughout the night.
- Baby powder, because chafing is real, for both girls and guys.
- Vitamins and Ibuprofen/Tylenol – a multi-vitamin and vitamin C will save your immune system, and the pain medicine will be there to help you recover from your aching body or pounding headache.
- BANDANNA because even Weekend 1 gets dusty. The gorgeous green grass you see upon arrival will quickly fade to dead brown grass, and then to dirt. Smart Coachella-goers wear bandannas around their necks to pull up over their nose when they have to walk through a dusty area.
- Jumper cables are important to have in case your battery dies or your car just cant seem to get itself going, just like yourself, at the end of the exhaustively fun weekend.
- Folding table, which is perfect to place your food and prep it, but even better for drinking games!
- Wet wipes and small Kleenex packets saved my life. The Porta Potties will run out of toilet paper very fast, so if you carry around Kleenex and/or wet wipes, you feel so much better throughout the day. Wet wipes will also take the place of a shower for a few days. If you wipe down enough, you will feel brand new!
- Fanny pack’s are awesome and it is my favorite way to carry all of my important items into the festival. I never have to worry about my stuff because its right down in front of me. I have a tan crochet fanny, so it matches my outfits.
- Dry shampoo is a a savior, because most people don’t get up early enough to get in to the showers right away, so they end up with wet wipes and dry shampoo, and I promise those both can work miracles in the desert.
- Don’t forget your tent, sleeping bag, pillow, toothbrush, toothpaste, and deodorant!
If you like this awesome set-up above, then you can thank my husband. We invested in this SmittyBilt rooftop tent before our first Coachella, and it was absolutely magical! It even has a small, padded mattress built in, and I got into greater detail here. It gives you plenty of airflow when the sides are open, because you are above the sea of cars. Also, it frees up the rest of our 10’x30′ space that the Jeep doesn’t take up, to use as our hangout area!
We also built a homemade shower this year which worked like a charm, so we never had to stand in line to shower, and we could do so at our campsite. It was another genius idea by my husband an only cost us $100, and now we have it to use anytime we want to go camping, as it attaches to the roof rack of the Jeep. If you want details on how my husband built the shower, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I would be happy to send you the details!
This is the best way to do Coachella because of all of the amazing people you will meet, it’s Coachella 24/7 instead of just several hours a day, and it truly helps you relax with no cares in the world for 4 entire days. If you have additional suggestions for things to bring to Coachella or any music festival, comment below and I will add it to the list!