It’s April, and that means the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in the Southern California desert is drawing near — back-to-back weekends of memory-making concerts, super-charged sunshine and frolicking with friends. But as any Coachella vet knows, it can also mean frustrating waits in line and gritty, sweaty environs that can seriously sour an otherwise epic experience. Here’s how to keep it cool and under control for maximum chill and minimum stress out there in the desert.
1. Score under-the-radar lodging.
If you’ve scoured the Web for hotels lately, then you know you waited too long. The most mediocre of properties are going for 10 times the typical rate, and who wants to stay somewhere ho-hum anyway? Instead, look to house-rental booking sites like Airbnb or VRBO to find a splashy residential property with individual character and a killer pool. Get a group together for the arrangement to make the most financial sense — and the most fun.
2. Be prepared.
A little pre-planning can mean the difference between a weekend punctuated by major physical discomfort, and seamless, photo-ready days on and off festival grounds. Your bag of essentials should include a stash of wipes for hands and face, sunscreen, lip balm, antiperspirant, contact lens solution, and a sarong or towel to sit on.
3. Know your ABCs.
That’s “always be charging,” of course. The fastest way to ruin the festival is to get separated form your friends with no way to reconnect — and if you’re not sharing snaps on social, how will you know it’s even happening? So come to the shows with a backup charger, like an iPhone 6 Juice Pack from Mophie.
4. Don’t even go.
Shhhh — this is the open secret festival producer Goldenvoice doesn’t want you to know. But you can have a ton of fun in the desert without dealing with the hassle (not to mention the cost) of the main event. If you’re in the know, score invites to unofficial but totally coveted private parties from the likes of H&M and Paper magazine. Or, check out public events hosted by hotel properties like the Ace and Saguaro. All have fun live music lineups, so you’re still basking in the electric energy of the cool-kid crowd in town for the shows — not to mention working on that perfect, even tan — but on your own terms.
No matter how you spend your weekend, you’ll probably be wrecked at the end of it. Before you get out of town, do a little detox at some of the desert’s many healthy food options. Grab hearty vegan hangover fare at Native Foods Cafe or a massive green juice at Palm Greens Cafe. Then go back to work on Monday with a sh*t-eating grin of a weekend very well done.