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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 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!)
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.
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!
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.
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. ?