Last year, I went to my first ever festival. Hell, it was the first time I had ever camped in my life. I was never a Brownie, or a cadet, and as an adult, I am more of a hotel than a tent kind of gal.
I am the last person my friends or family would ever expect to go to a festival, but with a new "just say yes" attitude, free tickets from work and a trusting friend, I headed to the Isle of Wight 2016. And guess what? I actually had the best three days; it's a strong contender for my best weekend of last year. So, after a second visit this year, and amidst festival season, here's how to survive a festival when you're a bit of a princess:
Choose the festival wisely. Isle of Wight has a nice, chilled crowd, the music is varied and, perhaps most importantly, the mud isn't too bad. It's probably best to start with one like this, if you're not after a baptism of fire. Holy water? Holy mud wash, more like.
Embrace it all
You have to embrace your surroundings for what it is. And 5* luxury accommodation it isn't, even in the VIP section. Once you make peace with the fact your shoes will get muddy, the toilets will smell, and lose yourself in the notion that it doesn't really matter what time it is, you will have fun. The first thing I did was don my wellies (you'll care less about mud then), pack a small bag with cleanliness essentials and stuff I would hate to be stolen (phone, keys, glasses) and set up the tent with my sleeping bag. That way, I know I will have everything I will need with me at all times, and any worry will melt away.
Try and get to the site during the day, so you're not attempting to put a tent up in the dark. Last year was the first time my friend or I had ever put up a tent and we did pretty well! It may have taken us the best part of an hour, and we may have had a smidgen of help from the owner of the tent (over the phone) and our tent neighbour, but it stayed sturdy for the whole three days. The same can't be said for the tent our friends put up for us this year. Arriving at dusk, they put up the tent, which promptly fell down while they were in the main arena. Cue hours of walking, a plea to the police and a night in the welfare tent! Thankfully, they found it and put it back up, ready for our arrival.
Pitch up not too close to the path, near - but not too near - a toilet, and close to something that you'll remember when it's dark, you're drunk and there are a million tents. Last year was a tent with a large flag on top, this year was a sign that said: "purple 1" and two orange tents in quick succession.
Ain't nobody got time for two pulley suitcases and a holdall. Bear in mind you're going to be on grass, if not mud, so carry your stuff in a backpack or a holdall. A word to the wise: don't carry a bag on one shoulder. You will have to walk for a while, whether it's along the pier from the ferry or through the car park, and that shiz gets painful! It's not the weight, but rather the thinned strap pushing into your shoulder. Also, carry a smaller bag that you can wear once you leave your tent.
The main items, aside from wellies, tent and sleeping bag that you will need are:
- Plastic bottles (either to fill with water or alcohol to consume in the campsite area. No glass bottles are allowed).
- Wipes - this is your toilet roll, your shower, your glitter remover, your mud decruster. Bring a big pack of baby wipes to leave in the tent, and a handbag sized one to carry around with you.
- Hand sanitiser - good for your life and sanity.
- An old phone that has an incredible battery life, or your normal phone popped on airplane mode. If you do the former, make sure you have an emergency contact saved, as well as the numbers of the people you're with.
- Double the amount of socks you think you'll need.
- A spare outfit, along with one for each day.
- Lots of plastic bags - these become bins, keep things dry if it rains, and generally come in handy.
- Spray deodorant - which can double as perfume.
- Lippy and hair bobbles: pop your hair back for the weekend and dress up your face with some lippy.
- A light jacket that can be easily tied around your waist, but will keep you warm in the evening and can double as a mat when you sit on the ground.
- Plastic cups - you can drink out of them, brush your teeth into them, and make some arts and crafts, if you're feeling particularly boho.
- If you're a contact lens wearer, opt for daily wear ones, rather than monthlies. Your hands are no where near as clean as they are at home, and you don't need an eye infection to go with your three day hangover at the end of the weekend.
To save money, bring breakfast stuff that will store well (like breakfast bars, or cereals if you like cereal without milk) and lots of water. Bring any alcohol, poured into plastic bottles, but be mindful that you'll only be able to drink it at your tent.
The rest of your meals can be bought from the many many stalls. In my opinion, the food is quite expensive, but the drinks are London prices. Opt for stodgy foods if you don't want to spend too long on those portaloos...
Festivals are a great way to escape, so I can't say enough: go, go, GO!