12 Creative Ways To Save Money At Music Festivals

music festival money saving tricks tips

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You’ve already spent hundreds on a ticket, but have you factored in gas, food, drinks, camping gear, and other expenses into your music festival adventure? All of a sudden your weekend getaway turns into mini-vacation that costs as much as a plane ticket to a tropical island.

But attending a music festival doesn’t have to do major damage to your wallet. With five music fests under my belt, I’ve picked up plenty of ways to save money without compromising my weekend of fun.

Whether you’re attending Coachella, Bonnaroo, Ultra, Firefly, or one of the dozens of awesome concerts around the world, whether you’re a rookie or a seasoned pro, check out these money saving tips before your next music fest.

1. BYO Water

Water can cost up to $5 a bottle from a vendor, and you’ll happily pay that in the scorching temperatures where most summer festivals take place. Most festival grounds have water refill stations so you can get your fill of H2O, so pack a refillable bottle each and every day. You don’t want to be the friend who passes out and spends half the weekend in the medical tent.

2. Bring Some Small Snacks

Instead of wasting 30 minutes waiting in line for an $8 slice of pizza (yes, really – I’ve seen it), bring a granola bar or other snack that will keep you full and satisfied when those miles of walking from stage to stage catch up to you. Most festivals allow you to bring these in, but check the guidelines for your particular fest so security doesn’t snatch your food.

3. Borrow Camping Equipment (Or Buy Cheap)

Decent tents and canopies can cost hundreds of dollars, but I’m sure you have an outdoorsy relative who has everything you need sitting in their garage. If you can’t borrow coolers, tents, pop-ups for shade, Camelbaks, or other items, head to a local flea market. My dad bought a tent for $20, and it’s lasted for three music festivals (and counting). As long as it keeps you covered and dry, it’ll do.

4. Carpool

It seems obviously, but you’d be surprised how many people pull up to the camping grounds with two or three people in their car. You’ll split the costs of gas, tolls, and a parking or camping pass more ways with more people and help out the environment while you’re at it.

5. Skip The Alcohol

Beer tents are a staple of many festivals, but it’s probably not the best use of your money. Sure, it’s a great place to hang out in the shade for an hour and catch up with friends, but you should be chugging (free) water instead of alcohol. At $8 or more per drink, it’s an activity you should indulge in sparingly. If you can sneak some vodka in, more power to ya.

6. Take Advantage Of Free Activities

There’s really no reason to spend money at the vendor shops or beer tent when there is a free silent disco, comedy shows, film screenings, yoga sessions, and tons of music (duh). You can even charge your phone or get your hair washed and braided for nothing out of your pocket. You paid for all of this in your ticket, so take advantage of it!

7. Set Your Limits

Before you even set out on your road trip, make decisions about how much you want to spend. Maybe you really want a cute t-shirt, but don’t buy up half the merch tent. Treat yourself to a bangin’ burrito for lunch, but then bring a snack in for later.

8. Go With Cash Over Credit

The last thing you need is a food vendor who doesn’t take credit card, leaving you to pay a hefty ATM fee just to eat. This also helps with #7 – bring enough cash (plus some extra just in case) to last you the day, so you can’t spend more than that.

9. DIY Fashion

Did you really go to a festival if you didn’t take a billion Insta-worthy pics? Instead of spending a fortune on cute outfits, there’s tons of ways you can DIY. Make your own flower crown from materials at your local craft store, cut up an old t-shirt into a cute tank with a YouTube tutorial, or trade clothes with friends for a brand new look.

10. Book Early

Ticket prices only get more expensive as the festival date nears. Tickets are usually cheapest before the band lineup is even announced, so if you’re sure about where you want to spend the weekend this summer, snag the tickets ASAP.

11. Bring Everything You Might Need

Maybe you didn’t pack tampons thinking you can just get them there. Unfortunately, literally everything on festival grounds has its price hiked up. Coordinate with the people in your campsite to make sure you have everything from chargers to toilet paper covered.

12. Volunteer

Most music festivals offer free tickets…if you’re willing to help out. I did this my second year at Bonnaroo. I had a 6-hour shift on three of the four days of the festival where I sat by the showers helping collect money and give out shampoo and conditioner samples. It couldn’t have been easier, and I got to see Paul McCartney for ZERO dollars.

That being said, volunteering does have its drawbacks. You’ll more than likely miss a few sets you were hoping to see and may have to do some hard labor, but if you’re flexible and really want to save your bank account, it’s an unbelievable way to go.

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