T in the Park. Scotland. 2004. This now-veteran camper was but 17 years old and skipping blindly into his first festival experience. Having camped only in the idyllic and tranquil Scottish Highlands prior to that, it goes without saying the act of making a home out of field with 70,000 other people on a bender wasn’t the same ball game.
By Sunday, the campground was like a battle zone: broken bodies strewn across the muddy lands, tents broken and twisted from the wind and rain, the dank waft of cheap hot dogs pervading the air like mustard gas.
I still wake up in a cold sweat, screaming into the abyss, dreaming of my first festival camping experience.
But much has changed since then. With each camping festival I have attended since (and I’ve attended a lot), I got a little smarter, a little wiser, packed a few more things, and picked up some tricks and tips along the way that have held me in stellar stead to this day.
With Camp EDC set to return for 2020, here are some veteran tips for newbie campers that you’d all do well to heed.
Make a Detailed Checklist
Before you leave home, you should make a detailed checklist of everything you need to bring with you, preferably some days in advance. If you rush, you will always forget things, so do take your time.
Have you got sunscreen? What about hand sanitizer? Your unicorn pool floatie? Or that American flag mankini you always wanted to wear?
The general store on-site will have almost everything you need (though potentially not the mankini), but it’s good practice to learn to be self-sufficient and prepared. If you make that list digitally, you can always add to it for your next festival camping experience and become quickly honed in the packing process.
Meet Your Neighbors
When you get to Camp EDC and you locate your ShiftPod, see who’s around! In a festival that sees a million brief encounters, the bond you’ll make with your neighboring campers arguably runs deeper. They will be posted up next to you every day, so as soon as you arrive, say hello, lend a helping hand, and talk a bit of shit (in a playful way, obviously).
At Least Four Hours of Sleep Each Night
In actual life, you should always aim to scoop up a clean eight hours in order to be at your absolute best. But that’s hardly a reasonable thing to expect at a dance music festival, so we’ll cut you a little slack.
In this veteran camper’s experience, four hours is the absolute minimum on which you can still function properly—and even that will catch up to you by the final stretch.
Sleep is not a sign of weakness. You need to recharge, or you’ll be a zombie by the end of the festival. Given that Camp EDC has an after-party each night (more on that later), you’ll need to keep an eye on your sleep schedule to make sure you’ve got the legs to go the distance.
Eye Mask and Earplugs
When you stay in the Vegas hotels, you have the benefit of black-out curtains and thick windows. This is far from the case inside a tent.
You will need an eye mask and earplugs to help you sleep at night. It’s as simple as that.
Remember Where Your ShiftPod Is, and Clearly Mark It
This veteran camper clearly remembers the bedraggled misery of trudging around the vast Symbiosis campground in the dark for four hours hunting for his tent. Thankfully, two intrepid Humboldt wooks took me in until the sun rose, at which point he realized his tent was 100 feet away and that he’d been walking right past it all night.
At Camp EDC, everyone has an identical ShiftPod. You should bring a distinguishing flag to drape over it—perhaps from a country unlikely to be represented at the festival.
Remember exactly where your tent is, write it down, and do not forget it.
Use the Showers
Gone are the days when you wore your pungent odor and thin frosting of fest crust as a badge of honor. Taking a shower each day is a golden rule, both for your body and mind.
Not only is everyone going to be a lot more inclined to accept that big PLUR’d-up hug from you, but your vibe will shine a little brighter if the rave stench has been hosed off each day.
Camp EDC offers free showers on the grounds, so take advantage of this each day—preferably as soon as you wake up, so you can beat the lines and start your day feeling fresh.
Pick Your After-Party Battles Wisely
Camp EDC’s inaugural Monday morning after-party was a legendary moment in the history of the festival; everyone who was there to dance barefoot in front of the Wide Awake Art Car to some tribal tech in the rain will testify to that.
But the only way you can get to the Monday after-party is if you don’t go to every after-party leading up to that. If there’s something you really want to see, by all means, stay up and keep going after the festival. But if you’re not feeling it, or your energy level is plummeting, for god’s sake: go to bed.
Pick your after-party battles. You can’t do them all. Believe me. I have seen many haggard souls stronger than you try and fail miserably.
Roll Up With Deck Chairs
Few things are more satisfying in this festival experience than posting up outside your tent on a couple of deck chairs, regaling your friends and those who pass with yarns from the night before.
It took this veteran camper several squatted festival experiences to acknowledge just how vital this simple tool is to your experience—and those soon-to-be weary legs of yours.
Water Before Bed
A night raging and sleeping in a tent will leave your mouth tasting like the floor of a movie theater. Adequate hydration will make this first experience of the day that much more palatable—as well as the rest of the day, for that matter.
It’s essential to take several big ol’ glugs of water right before you put your head down each night. This will help you feel dramatically better the next day, and it’ll keep your body in a constant state of hydration.
Bring Your Own Water and Snacks
It’s always good practice to bring your own water to the festival. Yes, Camp EDC has abundant free water stations situated at many locations around the campground. But you should have your own personal reserve there, so you can always get some when you want some.
The same goes for snacks. This veteran always packs some protein bars and bananas for each camping festival. They’re crucial for a getting a bit of quick energy when you feel yourself nosediving.