With festivals overseas becoming the new norm, festivalgoers need to do a bit more planning than for a UK festival.
Festivals are popping up left, right and centre worldwide – and attracting some of the world’s biggest names to their stages.
Festivals abroad comes with greater risks, and if something goes wrong it’s more difficult to sort it out than when you’re at home. Getting the right travel insurance is crucial if you plan on going to festivals overseas. As well as that, we’ve got some top tips for staying safe and making the most of your time.
Get the right bag
Find out what the maximum allowance for hand luggage size and weight is and buy a bag designed to capitalise on this. There are hundreds available, and you might be surprised by the amount of space on offer.
Smart packing can help in any travel situation. Given the nature of festivals, you’re probably not going to want to take your Sunday best. So it’s not the end of the world if your clothes are a little creased when you fish them out from the bottom of your bag. Roll everything up tight to get the most space.
Think about vacuum-packing your clothes. Re-usable vacuum bags are cheap and really help to save space, plus they are great for your dirties on the return trip. Read our holiday checklist and essentials article to find out more about packing well.
For most festivals, you’re not going to need much more than clothes. Things like a good book for those long, lazy evenings and a laptop can be jettisoned.
Be honest with yourself. You might debate bunging in your Kindle for the train rides between airport and festival, but realistically, will it ever see the light of day? It’s another thing to worry about losing, so it can sometimes be better to entertain yourself differently in your downtime (if you have any).
You’re going to be on your feet a lot, most likely dancing. Investing in a decent pair of shoes can save you a lot of pain when you get back. You don’t need full-blown hiking boots (especially as these won’t go with your festival outfits) but it’s better to have one pair of shoes you can wear throughout than use packing space on more. Lots of festivals have long walks between stages, so you don’t want to be in discomfort.
You might think about getting a cheap pair of decent trainers that you can chuck when you get home. They might not have the best odour at this point, and festivals are famous for being a bit muddy. You don’t want to ruin your favourite shoes, after all.
Think about whether you need to take wellies – they may prove your most valuable possession. You can buy pairs that can be hung from your backpack.
Let’s talk about the weather
British festivalgoers are seasoned practitioners in any-weather partying. Glasto is a prime example of how unpredictable the situation can be, with one glorious day followed by a week of downpour.
While the most popular festivals are in places with fairly predictable weather, it’s best not take chances and end up having a miserable time. If you can expect to be somewhere warm, you might only take a cagoule or foldable anorak. If you’re doing one on the Scandinavian circuit, something a bit warmer might not go amiss.
Essentials everyone always forgets
Comprehensive travel insurance
Make sure you’re covered for yourself and all of your things. If you’re taking a few gadgets, perhaps an add-on like gadget cover will help. There are things that you might not be covered for, like using a moped, so always check your policy. Don’t assume that free policies with bank accounts give sufficient cover.
Don’t invalidate your insurance. Use of illegal drugs or being too drunk will invalidate your policy.
EHIC for all European festivals
This is a vital addition to good travel insurance and entitles you to necessary healthcare in all state hospitals in the EU and EEA. Check yours is still valid before you travel – they only last 5 years.
There are few things more annoying than trying to navigate your way to a portaloo by moonlight, or trying to fish that one clean pair of socks from the bottom of your bag blind. As well as the light on your phone, a head torch frees up your hands.
A good power block
You don't know how easy it's going to be to charge your phone, so having this can be a lifesaver
Disguise for your valuables
There are a range of valuables disguises available, such as Coke bottle lookalikes for money and jewellery. It’s not generally a good idea to take anything valuable to a festival with you, but things like cash are unavoidable. There are also safes made to look like books for larger things such as your phone and passport.
Make sure you’ve got the right one for the country you’re visiting.
Protect all of your important documents, like your passport, money and travel insurance details by putting them in a waterproof covering. There are foldable ones available to help you use space better.
Lots of phone providers allow use of EU networks at standard rates, but this is due to change and doesn’t apply to every EU country or every provider. Make sure you know what you can do and think about buying some overseas minutes to be sure you can make a call if you need to.
Cheap, decent padlocks are a great way to stop worrying about your things when you’re away from them. Most bags will have a way to padlock closed, the change pocket on your trousers is a good place to keep keys.
What with all the revelry, tents can accumulate a lot of rubbish. It’s nice to be able to deal with this immediately rather than having an ordeal once the situation gets out of hand. They're also a good place to put your dirties after a few days.
Waterproof bag covering
At the first sign of a downpour, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got something to keep your bag and valuables dry – especially if you plan on leaving them alone.
We’ve got a guide to backing up all of your documents in case you lose them while away.
Sunscreen and a hat
If you think about it, you could well be spending most of the daylight hours in more-or-less direct sunlight. It’s vital that you protect yourself. Stay hydrated - drinking in the heat and not staying hydrated can lead to one mighty hangover.
Give yourself an emergency fund of cash in case there are no ATMs, and keep it somewhere away from your spending cash.
An absolute necessity for those times when getting a shower is just not an option. Get reputable ones to make sure you’re not in any discomfort.
Pack of cards
There’s not much room for downtime at festivals, but you might want to take it for yourself and unwind with a few games of snap. You’ll be grateful you brought them and, even if you don’t use them, they barely take up any space.
Festivals overseas can be some of the most fun experiences ever if done right. Make sure you've got good travel insurance and everything you need to enjoy them all the more.