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Coachella Survival Guide: Purchasing Tickets, Where to Stay, and Travel Photo by Boga Rín on Unsplash
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Coachella Survival Guide: Purchasing Tickets, Where to Stay, and Travel

Written by Elaine Tu

If you’re going to Coachella, there are a bunch of things you NEED to know to survive. Okay, maybe we’re being a bit dramatic, but you’ll definitely have a more comfortable and less nerve-wracking time knowing these things beforehand! This Coachella Survival Guide will help you better prepare for your time in Indio. ✌

 

coachella survival guide: everything you need to know before going to coachella source: shuttershock.com

 

Where is Coachella?

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is located at 81-800 51st Ave., Indio, CA 92201

You’ll see signs and notice ample traffic on the way there, including signs for Empire Polo Club, VIP areas, and GA. If you’re reading this and planning to drive, save the address above in your phone just in case.

Coachella Survival Guide

Now to get into it, you’ll need to consider the purchase of tickets, travel, and where you’ll be staying on your trip. If you’re planning for a group, you might need to do the heavy lifting, but we’ll help you out–read on!

Purchasing Tickets

Ticket buying for a hyped event is the most stressful thing. We’re talking stressed out for 1-2 hours on the Coachella website in the queue when tickets are released (maybe even for longer) watching the little man slowly make his way down. If you’re lucky, you might get into the ticket-purchasing page sooner, but most of us will be sitting there staring at our browser for far longer, hoping we’ll get through.

coachella survival guide: everything you need to know before going to coachella source: brendayze.com

 

Warning: There’s a chance you might not even get through, but in the last couple of years, Coachella has increased the number of wristbands they sell. So you can expect the grounds to be way more crowded than the previous years, but tickets should be easier than it was before to get!

Tip #1: Use multiple devices to get in line (Incognito mode may work, too if you’ve only got one device and Google Chrome installed) – Get your group of friends to do the same, so if they get in on multiple devices, they can check out for you too. Note: the limit to wristbands you can buy in one checkout is 4.

Tip #2: Purchase during advanced ticket sales if you can – This way, you’ll be able to make payments on your ticket instead of a lump sum (easier on your bank account). Just be sure that you’re using a credit card on autopay so you don’t have to worry about reaching a spending limit or missing a payment. If you miss even one payment, Coachella will cancel your ticket.

Tip #3: Make sure you purchase the right ticket – Yes, this seems to be a no-brainer, but this is a warning for you to do your research. Here’s the breakdown of ticket options:

General Admission ($429) – Your wristband to enter the music festival. You must have this to see any of the artists playing and even to enter the campground. Make sure you have one if you want to go to Coachella (DUH!). And no, you can’t party with your friends in the campgrounds without at least a GA wristband to Coachella. You will get kicked out or risk your friends getting kicked out also! For a packing list of essentials, you should bring into the venue with you, check out our Festival Packing List

VIP Pass ($999) & VIP Parking ($150) – Okay, you bougie peeps. If you’re going to ball out for any festival, Coachella might be the one. Going weekend 1 would probably be your first choice if you want a chance to hang with your fave influencer or meet Selena Gomez. If you don’t care about any of that, you’ll still enjoy the perks you’ll get with this ticket option. There are VIP areas sprinkled about that allow you to view stages without the crowds, and even special food vendors and beer gardens. And of course, VIP parking areas get you closer to the entrance. You’ll especially love this after a long day of dancing, walking, and if it gets cold–you’ll reach your car faster so you can get the hell outta there! Note: This isn’t an overnight pass.

Car Camping Pass ($113) – Car camping at Coachella is a rite of passage of sorts. You and your friends should try this out at least one time–who knows, maybe you’ll like it!

Included with this pass is one vehicle, and spots are first come, first served–so get there early. On-site camping starts at 9:00 am on the Thursday before the event. Most people get to the grounds on Thursday, so traffic to get into the grounds gets progressively worse throughout the day. Think–people are driving or flying in after work or school so late afternoon or evening will be the worst times to arrive there.

Protip #1: if you can get to the grounds in the morning, it’ll be a breeze!

Protip #2: If you’re going with a large group, be diligent and map out your space. Allow space for all the cars joining your crew and some central space for everyone to hang out (for chairs, floor cushions, speakers, DJ booth, etc.). People are usually really chill early on in the day, so if you leave cones or something to block off your section of cars before your friends come, they’ll usually be really understanding! No one wants to start off Coachella weekend giving bad vibes.

Note: Security at Coachella is really tight, and they do random searches before entering the campgrounds, so be prepared to unpack everything and pack everything back in–it’s one of the reasons why the line to get in is so long. Feel free to bring coolers with food and beverages, but no glass containers are allowed, and obviously, no weapons or fires are allowed inside. See more details on Coachella’s camping rules page.

Tent Camping Pass ($113) – a 10’x15′ grass spot where you can pitch a tent and get cozy with your friends! Each tent spot comes with a parking spot where you can park for the weekend. Note: the parking spot may not be within a close proximity, so plan accordingly! You are also not allowed to sleep in that car overnight, so plan on getting a car camping pass instead if you want to do so.

Camping Companion Parking ($60) – This is an add-on to the main car camping pass. This allows an additional car to share the 10’x30′ lot with the car camping pass holder. One camping companion parking pass is also available for tent campers.

Shuttle Pass (with GA – $504)  – Good for the whole weekend, the shuttle pass will allow you to travel between the venue and local stops. Read more about shuttle pass stops here.

coachella survival guide: everything you need to know before going to coachella source: nssmag.com

Purchasing Tickets from a Third Party

Ugh, so tickets can sell out while you’re in the online queue. Not to worry, if you missed the first purchase dates in May, you can certainly try again in January–you just won’t be able to get the payment plan option at that time. If you missed out on tickets in January also, you’ll have to turn to purchasing tickets from a third party. Here’s where you have to be careful.

 

Where to Stay

Figuring out where to stay can be a daunting task. If you’re the planner in your group–good luck and kudos to you! Be sure to be conscious of your group’s budget and choose the right place to stay for your group. This could mean staying on the campgrounds if your group doesn’t want to have to drive anywhere, or even renting a house to stay at if your group values cleanliness and beds over convenience!

Campgrounds

coachella survival guide: everthing you need to know before going to coachella source: lol-la.com

They don’t sell camping passes for no reason. The benefits to staying on the grounds are that you can easily walk back and forth from the venue to your tent/car to grab things you might’ve forgotten, or to take a nap in the middle of the day if the next artist you want to see is on in a couple hours.

Pros:

  • Convenience – No driving back and forth, easy access to your campsite for things you forget, or if you really need to change, etc.
  • Saving money on food & drinks- If you brought enough food to feed the group twice over, you’ll save a bunch of money not buying food inside the venue! If you’ve got that kind of time to walk to and from, or parked close enough, this can be a real help to you and your friends.
  • Splitting up the group – If you’re going with a large group, you’re bound to have some disagreements. If you camp, you don’t have to leave the venue because your DD wanted to go home. They can go back to the campsite, and you can keep on partying! How great is that?
  • Camp life – There is a certain type of culture you experience when camping that you’ll miss out on if you’re staying elsewhere. People at the campsites are super friendly, from all over the world, and are generally way more chill then people you may meet at the venue. It’s a community in itself! You can wake up and do yoga with a bunch of strangers, play a quick game of volleyball or even play a friendly game of flip cup with the neighboring campers!
  • Going ‘home’ – Because you aren’t driving, you don’t have to worry about the dreaded traffic getting into and leaving the venue.. trust us, it. is. bad. We’re talking 1-3 hours of your life spent trying to get in or leave, depending on the time you leave. Sure, if you’re willing to miss the closing acts, you probably will be fine, but who wants to do that?

Cons:

  • Cleanliness – if you aren’t afraid to get down and dirty, you won’t mind this con at all, but for some of us, sand in our sleeping bag isn’t our idea of a good time. If you’re a clean freak or someone that just can’t with camping, you might not be into this. We still advise that you try it out (at least once!) but if it’ll ruin your whole weekend, don’t do it.
  • Comfort – Sleeping on the ground or in the car inherently isn’t comfy. Sure, you can bring a mattress and pillows (taking up valuable cargo space) but you’ll still be facing the heat of the desert (it surpasses 100 °F) and sometimes even sandstorms. Take appropriate precautions to avoid disaster or opt for a different option.
  • Setting up & Packing up – This just might be the worst part of camping. Setting up can be a hassle, especially if your car was the first to arrive at the campsite and the rest of your party won’t be there to help. When it comes time to pack up and go on Monday, you’ll be exhausted from the weekend of partying, so this task is especially difficult. Not only do you have to pack up, but you’ll have to clean up the site from all the trash (cans, water bottles, etc.) before you leave.

ProTip #3: Take 5 minutes with your crew each morning and night to clean up the campsite, and be diligent about designating neatly (and conveniently) placed trash bags/bins that won’t blow away with strong winds. It’ll make packing up on the last day way easier on you!

ProTip #4: If you know you’ll be the first to arrive, be the one to bring the canopy, ample water, food, and generator or fan if you were planning to bring them. You don’t want to be stuck waiting for hours without shade or food!

House Rental

Renting a house for Coachella may be the most comfortable way to do this. Whether you’re going weekend 1 or 2, be sure to book these as far in advance as possible, and work within a budget your group decides on. You can get an estimate of the rental rates early on from the homeowners, or easily on Airbnb.

Pros:

  • Cleanliness – If you need a good long shower after the festival, we feel it. Dirt and grime are bound to get into all your nooks & crannies when you’re partying in the grass and sand in Palm Springs. At least you can walk into a house, undress and wash it all out of your hair and body! Then, comfortably continue partying back at the house or go to bed to rest up for the next days!
  • Comfort – cleanliness goes into this too, but comfort means being able to turn on the AC when temperatures are high or turn on the heater when the desert weather decides to switch sides. Being able to sleep in a bed, couch or even an air mattress indoors will be significantly more comfortable for you too. You don’t need to think about sandstorms or neighboring campers partying too loudly in the wee hours.
  • No setup & minimal packing – Just like at a hotel, you don’t need to set up canopies, rugs, generators or tents. You can just set your things down and begin the party! Leaving is a breeze too–wake up, have breakfast with your friends, pack your things and get outta there!
  • Hot meals – Are you a big believer in a breakfast of champions or late night munchies? Renting a house will give you access to a full kitchen where you and your foodie friends can whip up hot meals for the crew and eat like royalty.

Pro tip: Get there early and do a quick Costco run if you’re renting a house and don’t want to make multiple trips to the store. You’ll save some money and time! (Also, make sure the person with a Costco membership is in the first car to arrive!)

Cons:

  • Seclusion – although this could also be a pro for your introverts, meeting new and interesting people could be a benefit to staying on the campgrounds instead. People from all over the world are visiting, so why not mingle a bit and make some new friends!
  • Driving – Unless you’re staying within walking distance of the venue, you’ll have to (or want to) drive. Temperatures of 100 °F or higher will keep you out of the heat for as long as you can. Also, traffic is a nightmare going in and out, so if you suffer from road rage or can’t sit in a car for longer than an hour, this won’t be for you.
  • Staying with your group – If you carpooled to ‘chella from the house, chances are you’ll have to leave or wait for your friends if they decide to. This could mean missing the last 30 minutes of Beyonce’s set so that you guys can beat traffic, or staying for all of it, and hitting heavier traffic at the end.
  • Spending more on food & drinks – You might spend more on food if your group spends the entire day at the festival. Despite having a hearty breakfast to start your day, you’ll get hungry at the festival, and unless you leave and drive all the way back to the house, you might have to buy food from the vendors instead. Needless to say, you’ll do the same when your day fade goes away and spend a ton on alcoholic beverages!
  • Inaccessible to your things – If you forgot your phone, too bad. Your group probably won’t be down to drive back to get it. The same wouldn’t be said if you left something at a campsite since you can just walk back without your group to grab it.

Pro tip: Bring money for a locker. You can overpack things into your bag as long as they abide by Coachella’s rules. Store the heavier stuff away in a locker near the entrance. If you split the cost with a few friends, you can store your group’s things for the day like extra jackets, external batteries, etc. all in one locker and grab them whenever you need them.

Hotels

Hotel packages for Coachella are available at various locations around Coachella Valley. These rates tend to spike during these weekends so this wouldn’t be our first choice if you’re planning your trip! The benefit is that most resorts and hotels offer shuttle services, or if you’re buying the shuttle pass, the hotel might be included in one of the stops. We only advise this for groups of 4 or less who don’t want to camp, or if it ends up being cheaper than booking a rental house for the weekend!

Travel

Whether you’re a festival-goer from out of state, out of the country, or right here in California, there are a bunch of options for getting into Indio, CA. If you’re in California and looking to save some money, you might be open to driving to Coachella instead of flying. The downside is the potentially long drives (not so bad when you’re going from San Diego or Los Angeles), but if you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, it can be more of a trek. We strongly advise driving if you’re car camping or tent camping because (duh) you’ll need or want your car to get all your things inside. If you aren’t camping or just meeting your crew on the campgrounds (where they are doing all the heavy lifting), check out your options for traveling to Coachella:

Palm Springs Airport (PSP) – Get right to it by flying directly to Palm Springs–about 23 miles from the festival. Airfare to this location will be more expensive around Coachella weekends, so check other options if cost is a concern for you!

Ontario International Airport (ONT) – The next closest option to Palm Springs is this one. At approximately 92 miles, you’ll need to rent a car and be ready for a bit of a drive. You’ll pass by some strip malls along the way if you’re group wants to take rests in-between to find a snack or go shopping beforehand, which will make for a nice little road trip!

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) – Probably one of the craziest airports you can fly into, but if that’s your choice, by all means! This one’s the furthest at 144 miles away from Indio, but you can rent a car or purchase the LAX Airport Shuttle that takes you from LAX to onsite camping or select resorts.

For more options or ways to get to the festival, check Coachella’s guide here.

How much does Coachella cost?

The big question: what is the price of going to Coachella? Well, that ticket is going to be at least $429 + tax, followed by camping passes, hotel, or house rentals, the cost to travel to Indio albeit airfare, gas, or other forms of transportation, and food & drinks for the weekend.

We can only estimate the cost of getting to Coachella and into the venue, but you’ll be looking at spending anywhere from $500-1000 and upwards on the entire weekend.

You’ll break the bank a little on this trip, but it’s the trip of a lifetime! And, if you do it right based on this little Coachella Survival Guide, you won’t be stressin’ on your trip–make more room for good times. 🙌

@SHOPTOBI