How to Do Coachella on a Budget, Because Things Can Get Real Pricey, Real Fast

So, you're going to Coachella this year, and chances are, you're struggling to afford the adventure. Not all of us are satellite Kardashians who can afford to spend money on stupidly large nose rings. But OK, you're struggling with trying to minimize your Coachella funds, and I'm around to put my bitterness aside and help. So here's a few essentials (and tips!) to go to Coachella on the cheap. Here's what to bring for your adventure that should keep you from breaking the bank.

Tell St. Vincent I say "hi."


No matter what your skin tone is, nobody is safe from the California sun, especially the desert. End of. If you’re with a group, chip in on sunscreen, and try to aim for the spray can for easy application.

Coppertone Sport Sunscreen Spray SPF 50, $7.99


As I previously noted, this is a sun drenched festival, and that said, you should spare a dime if you don’t have the appropriate eyewear already. They don’t have to be fancy Ray-Bans — in fact, if you get glasses with a bit of novelty your overall ensemble will be better — but do make sure they have UV protection.

I mean, ultimately you want to bring not-so expensive sunglasses, because there is a VERY good chance they could get lost in the crowd during Kasabian’s set.

Sunglasses, $7.95,

Rain Poncho

Plot twist: yes, you’re in the desert, but rain doesn’t discriminate, especially when it comes to Coachella. If the weather’s looking iffy and you want to be prepared, these cheap, clear ponchos seem to be the way to go. That way you can still show off your other crocheted, fringed poncho underneath without completely ruining your outfit.

These are real concerns.

Talus Emergency Rain Poncho, $2.99,

Dry Shampoo

Dry shampoo is a godsend during grimy times, and let’s be realistic, you’re not showering. This is travel-sized, safe to bring on airplanes (I mean, I don’t know where you live) and I swear by this brand. I relied on it for like, months in art school. Dark times, but it works.

Pssst! Travel Size Instant Dry Shampoo Spray, $2.99,

Floppy Hat

If the dry shampoo isn’t doing it for you, I have good news: floppy hats are the new flower crown, and truth be told, they’re far more practical. They will keep your head and hair safe from the elements, and on a superficial level, they’re trendy as hell. This one comes in black and tan, and that’s really all you need. Say no to headdresses, it’s 2014.

Wide Brim Floppy Hat, $15.99,

Portable Phone Charger

If you’re patient, there ARE free charging tents, make no mistake. But if you, my friend, are a free spirit who can’t be tied down, why don’t you just invest in a cheap portable phone charger? This one’s on sale for only $12.99, and — ooooh! — it’s orchid.

Lithium-Ion Mobile Battery Pack, $12.99,

Individual Hand Wipes

You’ll need these. Trust me. Hand sanitizer is a popular choice, but it’s unwieldy shape won’t fit into a small pouch. You can get regular pack of hand wipes, it’s technically the cheaper choice, but only a solid idea if you’re bringing a larger bag.

But if you invest in individual hand wipes, you can divide them amongst your friends, and still fit a few in a mini pouch. Ultimately it comes down to what bag you bring, but DO bring something or trips to the porta-potty will be hell.

Wet Ones Antibacterial Hands & Face Wipes, Singles Fresh, $2.99,

Snack Bars

Snack bars will go a long way at Coachella. At the very least they serve as the breakfast of champions. And look, technically you’re not supposed to bring in outside food, but it seems people still try to sneak them in, with varying amounts of success. Throwing it out there.

Not your style? Rest assured Coachella has no lack of food venues, but generally, like any festival, they slightly upcharge whatever they’re selling. So a word to the wise for those who buy food: keep cash on your person, or prepare to be slammed by the ATMs.

Kellogg’s Special K Protein Almond Honey Oat Granola Snack Bar, $2.78,

Small Crossbody Bag

If you’re traveling light, choose something just large enough to keep your cell phone maybe said snack bar or two. I’m anti-fanny pack, but that’s just a personal preference. Don’t let me stop you if you feel that’s the right choice. But first, let me offer another option…

Faux Suede Fringed Crossbody, $19.90,

Mini Backpack

You probably have a mini backpack somewhere, it was the It item of the ’90s. Well, now’s the time to break it out. String backpacks — like the ones you still have from Freshmen orientation — are a WAY cheaper alternative, plus a flatter bag. But you have to deal with the risks of it being too vulnerable for a concert, and the weirdness of walking around with a giant Rutgers “R” on your back. Your choice.

Fringed Suede Backpack, $32.90,


MAKE NO MISTAKE, hotels and rental houses in the area jack up prices during Coachella season. This one’s on sale (easily $50 cheaper than the original price) and it appears to be easy to set up if you’re a camping rookie.

Quest Instant Up 6 Person Instant Tent, $99.99,

Water Bottle

How you get water at Coachella is a personal choice. Here are the basics: bottled water is a not too unreasonable

$2, but there are refillable fountains of free, twice filtered water all over the venue and camp grounds. I’d say come prepared with a container and if you get impatient in line, splurge on a bottled water.

I like this one container, because it’ll flatten for easy storage if you’re traveling light. Of note, bota bags are forbidden, as are metal bottles. In any case, so long as you keep your containers empty before you get in you should be fine.

Portable Vapur Beverage Bottle, $8.19,