Glasto is coming, Download has been and gone and the British festival season is well and truly under way. Forget the flower crowns, forget festival fashion - if you're off to a festival for the first time this summer; here's what you really need to take with you.
1. As little clothing as humanly possible.
Forget your crochet tops, forget your gladiator sandals and your ponchos, whatever you're wearing is going to get ruined. Consider your festival fashion a capsule wardrobe of sorts...only one that basically just includes hoodies, leggings and band t shirts instead of linen and tailored trousers.
It's a no brainer but wellies are the festival goers life saver yet you STILL see people in flip flops. Like really, do you want all your toes broken in the crowds? And let's not even talk mud. My advice for wellies? Your sparkly floral Primark ones might not last but a more solid decent pair will see you post festival season and into A/W2016. Oh and make sure you have socks that stay up.
3. A coat.
So you probably don't need a full on parka with one of them pink fluffy hoods but one of them fold up waterproofs that doesn't take up much space is ideal. It's likely to rain and you'll need something with a hood and something to keep the majority of your clothes dry or you'll be miserable to oversize (like down to your knees is the ultimate dry rain poncho goals).
4. Nothing Valuable.
In case you didn't realise, when you're camping, it's very hard to keep anything safe. It's a weird situation, you leave all your shit in your tent completely unguarded, you know everyone else has their shit in their tent, everyone else knows you have your shit in your tent....but generally things seem to just stay there. That being said, there ARE some dickheads who'll raid tents (or even set fire to them which is cute) or you're likely to get pissed and loose anything so take as few valuables as possible. Take cash not your bank card, keep your phone and camera on your person and don't take any luxuries you don't mind going amiss.
5. Spare Batteries.
If you're taking a disposable camera, take spare film. If you're taking a digital camera, have a stash of spare batteries. You know the drill. These days we don't have much choice in not taking our phones with us everywhere - we need to ask for lifts from the station back from the festival, we need to find our pals in the crowds, we need to let our parents know we are still living. If you can, take a crappy phone from Tesco with some credit on which it doesn't matter if it's dropped or lost but if you do have to take your smart phone, try not to have it on if you don't need it (I turned mine off in the music and only used it once a night to update my folks on my living status), carry it with you at all times, don't leave it somewhere and take 4723857875 portable chargers for the way home.
6. Bum Bag.
They are back and boy do we love them. Yes they're a bit tacky, yes the high street is trying to make them a bit more snazzy but at the end of the day there is nothing better for keeping your junk together. Don't take a handbag with you into a festival. You'll get searched at every gate which is a pain in the arse, pockets aren't safe enough, a bag can be ripped from your shoulder - the only way to keep the valuables you DO have to take and your money safe is with the trusty bum bag.
If there is one tip I can give that you should 100% listen to is to fill 20% of your bag with things like clothes and wellies sleeping bags and the other 80% with food and bottled water. Particularly biscuits. Festival food is delicious and bad for you and glorious but man oh man it is expensive and sometimes when you're back in your tent at 3am, you just need a little summin summin. Take it from someone who fainted at a festival because she hadn't realised how little food she'd had (I know, who am I, I'd never forget food anymore), biscuits and crisps and clean bottled water will make the world of difference.
8. Toilet Roll.
Festival toilets are horrific. There is no denying it, there is no escaping it and it just ranges from horrifying to off the scale unimaginable depending on what facilities the festival has. I tell a really fun story about the toilets in Reading Fest 2011 where I was trying to pee without vomming over myself at the smell of the pits below (for those of you who don't know, the toilets in the camp are basically wooden shacks with a hole in the floor raised up on scaffolding which drops into a pit of waste), with both hands on the wall trying not to touch the lack of toilet seat with one foot on the door to keep it closed because of ALL THE BROKEN LOCKS and worrying a tall person can see over - clue, they can. Take your own toilet roll, it'll bring some semblance of normal in a situation you never expected to find yourself.
9. Invest In A Locker.
Ok so it's not something you can pack but it's definitely something you can do before you go. Most if not all festivals these days hire someone to provide lockers for festival goers which you book in advance. They're not huge, they're in fact tiny but they have phone chargers in them and they don't cost a lot. I paid for one in Reading 2011 after my A Levels and I think it was about 20 quid and for that, all my friends chipped in and we stored all our phones, cameras, bank cards and railcards/train tickets in there for 7 people for the whole 5 days. If nothing else it's such a relief to know your train tickets for the journey home are locked away.
10. Throw Away Items.
In an age of recycling and being green, packing to throw away seems really crap but it's just a saviour when it comes to leaving a festival. When you're packing to go home at 9am after a festival you do NOT pack as nicely and neatly as on the way down from the comfort of your own home. All that luggage that you meticulously packed will simply not go back in that one bag and you will throw a hissy fit on the long walk back through camp dragging your camping chairs. My advice would be to buy a crappy pop up tent, a crappy fiver sleeping bag from the supermarket, a pillow from Primark and as much else disposable stuff as you possibly can. It just saves from that breakdown when it comes to leaving and actually most festivals these days donate all leftover camping items to charity and refugees so actually, you might be helping someone by not taking all your gear home to gather dust in your shed till next year.
If you are going to a festival this summer, enjoy, stay safe and remember to take your biscuits!