By BIS Contributor Sarah Jane Grisham
What is Coachella? Combine the hottest musical talent in the world, a fashion week catwalk, A-list celebrities, non-stop dancing, three full days of pool parties, all the good vibes and put it all in the middle of a desert oasis with perfect weather and you get a pretty good picture.
It’s definitely a bucket-list item to put on your list if it’s not there already! And of course, when you go to Coachella, you want to do it RIGHT. Who knows when you’ll be back again (probably next year)?? That’ why I put together this list of things that are good for first-timers to keep in mind. I tried to answer some of the questions I had before going the first time for everyone who is curious enough to get the inside scoop.
The hype was so real. We flew into LAX on Thursday (the day before the festival starts), so we would have time to go to the beach and do Joshua Tree before going to Indio, where Coachella goes down. We rented a jeep – which I highly recommend. Super fun to take the top-down while driving through the desert. However,if you’re going straight to Indio, you can take a Coachella-specific shuttle that leaves from the airport. That way you don’t have to mess with a rental and save some money. That’s LAX though. If you’re only doing the festival, I personally would fly into Palm Springs. There’s wayyyyy less traffic that way. Example One: What would have been a 2.5 hour drive for us from Los Angeles to Joshua Tree, with traffic took 5 – yes 5 – hours!
Where to Stay
There are so many options. But if you’re like us, and you don’t want to camp (if you do – more power to you), then you’re probably not trying to drop 5 million dollars a night on a hotel. Unless you’re booking a hotel a year in advance, the rates are super expensive – three weeks before Coachella, I saw some Motel 6s that were going at $800 a night! Talk about low supply and high demand. Nuts.
In my opinion, Airbnb is the way to go. Why? 1. There are some really nice houses in the area whose renters are fully aware that they will be accommodating Coachella-goers. 2. A lot of them have sweet pools, which is a huge plus for your late-mornings and early-afternoons pre-getting ready for the festival. 3. You can play music louder than you could in a hotel (listening to music BEFORE listening to 9 more hours of non-stop music?? Yes. It never stops. And is amazing.) 4. You can meet cool people. We actually became good friends with the people who were renting out the other room in our Airbnb. Which brings me to my next piece of advice.
Our day one, day two and day three experiences were all completely different from one other. Largely because of who we went around with. We made some really rad new friends from all over the world, some of whom even invited us over to their house before the festival a couple days. You’re all there because you care about music and enjoy people coming together – so why not?? It will only enrich your experience.
Going into the weekend, I had a category for the food being one of two things. I was like, either it’s going to be corndogs and pizza, or it’s going to be the most California-esque-catering-to-millennials-and-Instagram-thing ever. Turns out, it was happily both of those things. Walking along a strip of grab-and-go options, you’ll find chicken strips, pizza, burritos and tacos. But mixed in, you’ll also find Kombucha flights, kale and quinoa salads, smoothies, vegan bowls and healthy cocktails to boot. So whatever your thing is, you will eat and drink really well all day.
The fashion you guys. I mean, I’m not even going to lie, I tried SO hard. Coachella honestly is 50% music and 50% style. If fashion isn’t your thing though, I say just throw on shorts and a tank top and GO. But if it’s fun for you, then I highly suggest having a hay day planning out those festival-ready-looks. If you’re trying to save some money, hitting up Forever 21 and Zara for those too trendy items would be my suggestion. Also, make sure your outfits will keep you cool. It got up to 100 degrees one of the days we were there. However, I will say, that something about the desert climate made it not so bad. Just take breaks in the shade and you’re good!
I knew that Coachella was going to be chalked full of Instagram photo-shoots. It’s even been called the Influencer Olympics (ha ha!). But I did NOT expect it to be as IG-crazy as it TRULY was. No matter what direction you look, there are people striking poses and smiling like its their full time job. It was insane. Never seen anything quite like it. I mean, I guess it makes sense. All the ginormous art installations cater to that exact thing. Brilliant/free PR. All that to say, get those grams. I fully support it. It’s kind of a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
So. much. good. music. My biggest piece of advice would be to not try and do it all. Make your list of can’t-miss artists every morning, and plan your day around them. Then from there, give yourself some lee-way to do things like lay out on the grass for 30 minutes or an hour or to go to a band you don’t know anything about and discover some new sounds.
After doing some very serious and technical research, I found that it’s pretty normal to have a post-coachella slump. For this I say, throw on your favorite artists on repeat and start counting down till next year!