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How to Pack for a Festival on a Budget

Ellie Macsymons·Jun 14, 2023

Festival season is upon us and it’s time to start thinking about packing those backpacks for a weekend of music and good times. 

Festivals can be some of the most exciting and memorable experiences of your life, but they can also be costly too. However, with a little planning and some budget-friendly packing strategies, you can have a fantastic time without breaking the bank.

To help you out, we’ve put together a list of tips on how to pack for a festival on a budget, allowing you to save money while still enjoying all the festival fun.

1. Bring Your Own Food & Drink

One of the biggest expenses at festivals is food and drink. Buying from vendors can often mean paying over the odds without getting your money’s worth. So, to save money, consider bringing your own snacks, meals, and beverages. Pack non-perishable items like granola bars, crisps and noodles and stock your bag with your own drinks.

Of course, if you’re heading to a festival, we assume you’ll be living it up with a beer or rosé in hand. The majority of festivals allow you to bring your own alcohol into their campsite so ensure you pack sensibly to make room for your alcoholic drinks. However, it is also wise to check the festival’s alcohol regulations before you hit Bargain Booze- there’s no point stocking up on drinks only for them to be confiscated at security.

2. Invest in Reusable Water Bottles

Staying hydrated at a festival is crucial, and buying bottled water throughout the event can add up. Instead, invest in a reusable water bottle that you can refill at water stations or taps within the festival grounds. Not only will this save you money but it will also help reduce plastic waste. Look for bottles with built-in filters if you’re concerned about water quality.

3. Bring a Portable Stove & Utensils

Cooking your own meals at a festival can save you a significant amount of money. Packing a portable stove and some basic utensils will allow you to prepare simple and budget-friendly dishes.

Look for compact and lightweight camping stoves that are easy to transport and don’t forget to pack essentials like a pot, pan, spatula, and cutlery. Just be sure to check the festival’s guidelines on open flames before you start packing.

4. Get Organised

If you’re worrying about how you’re going to carry all your food, drinks and cooking equipment why not invest in a fold-down trolley or cart to make things easier? Trekking across a campsite with a huge camping bag can be exhausting so you might want to consider buying something on wheels to make transporting all your essentials easier.

Another way to get organised is to meet up with your friends beforehand and distribute your stuff evenly between you. This way, you can take in everything you need without making your bag too heavy, plus you’ll be able to check if you’re missing anything essential. If you’re going with a large group you can also share the cost of food and drink between you to make things cheaper.

5. Get Creative with your Drinks!

One of the most expensive parts of a festival is the drinks. Although you can drink at your campsite, most festivals don’t allow you to bring your own booze inside the arena, leaving you to pay the costly bar prices. If it’s a weekend or day festival you’re heading to, you won’t be permitted to take any alcohol in with you which can make the day very expensive. But, you’ll be happy to know there are ways you can get around this.

If you fancy chancing your luck, a good friend of ours spilt the beans on how to get around the pricey bar. Invest in some cheap plastic pouches from Home Bargains or B&M stores, top them up with your favourite spirit and discreetly carry them in. If you don’t want to buy these, you can also use reusable Capri Sun-style bottles that can be filled with your preferred drinks. 

Sneaking one or two of these in your clothes when heading into an arena or day festival can help you save a fortune! Simply buy soft drinks from the bar and keep the drinks flowing all day without spending a penny on alcohol. Just make sure you don’t get caught!

6. Take Miniature Bottles

Similarly, for festivals with stricter regulations on bringing in outside beverages, miniature bottles can be a sneaky and cost-effective solution. Mini bottles of gin or vodka can be stored in clothes and will allow you to enjoy your preferred drink without paying the high prices inside the festival. Just remember to drink responsibly and be aware of the festival’s policies regarding outside alcohol.

7. Plan your Meals & Snacks

To avoid impulse purchases and expensive food options, plan your meals and snacks in advance. Make a list of the items you’ll need and pack them accordingly. Consider portable and easily prepared options like sandwiches, wraps, and salads. 

If you’re planning on taking in a stove for cooking you can always pack things like tins of beans and fresh meat for BBQs or bacon butties. Of course, any fresh items will need to be kept in a cooler so make sure you have one of these on hand first.

8. Don’t Pack Expensive Clothes

Although we’re sure you’ll want pics for the gram in your best festival attire, be sensible and avoid packing anything designer or expensive. Thanks to the Great British weather, a bit of rain could turn your campsite into a swamp and if this happens you and your tent are likely to get muddy.

Although most of your dirty items will be salvaged in the washing machine, there’s no point risking your best clothes for the sake of a few pictures. After a few days of drinking, you’re also more likely to lose stuff. So, avoid ruining the fun by destroying or misplacing your favourite top and stick to budget pieces that you don’t mind getting ruined.

9. Take Sun Cream

You may wonder what sun cream has to do with packing on a budget but take it from any experienced festival goer- a bottle of SPF can save you hundreds of pounds. Festival tickets can be pretty pricey so the last thing you want to do is burn on the first day and end up in the First Aid tent for the remainder of the festival.

Get your money’s worth and see as many acts as you can by staying protected from the sun and not getting too drunk! If your festival takes place in the peak of summer, sun cream and a hat are essential. You may also want to consider bringing basic medication like paracetamol and hayfever tablets as buying these on-site can be expensive. Just make sure you pack them in a waterproof bag in case it rains.

10. Bring Cash

These days most places accept card and contactless payments but festivals are often in the middle of nowhere and limited signal can make vendors turn to cash. Although you’ll want to avoid buying food in the festival as much as you can, you may find yourself wandering towards the chip van at the end of the night after a full day of drinking.

If they only accept card, you’ll then be pointed to a cash machine that’s likely to charge a couple of quid every time you want to withdraw money. Avoid this by setting yourself up a little emergency cash fund in your bag- you never know when you might need it!

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