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Basic Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival: The Money Guide to Essential Preperation of Coachella

You’ve bought the festival tickets, airline tickets, camping tickets and every other ticket imaginable for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. What else should you prepare for before you take off to the Southern California desert?

There are few things that should be planned out so you can enjoy the festival to the fullest. Making sure you have your money set aside for food, merchandise and water is important.

Food for Festival Time

Food will take up most of your budget. Whether you are buying food once you arrive to have on the campgrounds or in your hotel, having a breakfast and snacks set aside are ideal. Good breakfast and snack ideas are: granola bars, fruit cups, beef jerky, peanut butter crackers, chips, bagels and cookies. Your total cost should be around $10 to $15.

Unfortunately, outside food is not allowed onto the festival grounds, so make sure you set aside $15 a day for lunch and dinner (unless you are big on snacking, and in that case, make it $20). The food vendors carry everything from vegan and vegetarian to barbecue and asian. There are also churro, pretzel and frozen lemonade stands, which are usually around $3 to $5.

Merchandise and Memorabilia

Merchandise may not seem like a necessity, but Coachella is not your typical concert-plus-art event. One of the biggest draws of Coachella is the experience, and after you’ve shown off every photo and retold the tale of your trip countless times, it’s nice to have unique memorabilia that you can keep and show to people in the future.

Coachella shirts are the hottest commodity, and every year brings several different styles. A t-shirt is going to run anywhere between $15 to $30. There are also hoodies, jackets, tank tops, posters, stickers, buttons and more. Vendor booths with local artwork will be outside the entrance if you know you’ll have a hefty amount of cash.

Of course, there is music products at the festival. The record store has great deals on CDs, DVDs, t-shirts, posters and random little trinkets. The average CD cost is $10, and prices go up depending on the product. Don’t forget to check your Coachella guide to see who will be at the signing booth each day.

Water, Water Everywhere

Staying hydrated is just as important as not getting a severe sunburn. The festival is on a vast polo field, but don’t forget that field is in the middle of the Colorado desert. Water is abundant on the grounds, and you have many options of getting it.

The popular option is the free water fountains that are strategically placed around the grounds, but sometimes the water can look a little “iffy” and the lines can be long, so be prepared to wait.

Although it was recently introduced, the newest option is economically better and it also helps keep the festival greener. You can purchase 22 oz. souvenir bottle for $10, which gets you free refills all weekend and is another piece of merchandise to show off back home.

The last and priciest option is to buy bottle water for $2, but if you take part in the bottle recycling program, it reaps benefits. All you have to do is collect 10 empty bottles and trade them in at a designated tent for a fresh, cold bottle.

You can also buy refills. Take an empty bottle (which cannot be breakable, metallic or a bigger than 32 oz.) to a refill station for $1 fill ups.

Beware, though, that the festival authorities are notorious for changing their minds at the last minute. Don’t be surprised if you have to toss outside beverages, including water, before you enter the grounds.

Festival Day

If you run out of cash, there are ATM machines located in and outside the festival grounds. Terminal fees will run you $3 to $4 per transaction.

Be sure to keep track of your belongings and wallet, because there are hundreds of people and losing your stuff could result in never seeing it again (unless it ends up in Lost and Found).

Remember to enjoy yourself and have fun, the festival happens only once a year, so make it one that you can talk about the rest of your life.


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