By: Amanda Cosenza (wheres_amanda)
Camping festivals are wonderful places that create a community that can only be formed by sleeping and living next to all the other attendees. However, they are not for the weak. They require you to be very self-sufficient and tolerate braving the elements. Packing for a festival can be daunting enough, flying to one where you are limited on baggage and have to bring gear for sleeping can be extremely stressful. The easiest option for flying to a camping festival is to opt for “glamping” or “Ready Set Camp” packages that the festival offers.
However, if you are balling on a budget or do not require a luxurious accomodation then there are options for bringing your own camping gear. I have flown to camping festivals in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Costa Rica. For those outside the US, I kept it very simple. I brought with me a tent that attached to my backpack, inflatable mattress pad, and a large backpack. This was because these do not have car camping so I knew I would be carrying everything to my campsite. For festivals inside the states, I often met up with friends driving in or rented a car. This allows for more supplies to be brought as well as a focused trip to the store right before the festival.
Before I go any further, I am going to address a grievance I have with the festival world. I cannot stand people who buy camping supplies one time or try to return them after using them. With proper planning, this can be avoided. Please please please do not buy tents, chairs, tables, or other items just to get rid of them after the festival. Yes, some offer donations and your items can go to good use but let’s all agree to try to do our part to reduce unnecessary waste.
Bring the Right Baggage
Fly Southwest Airlines if possible. TWO FREE CHECKED BAGS. Let me repeat myself. TWO FREE CHECKED BAGS. If you book in advance you can usually get really good deals and they don’t charge you if you have to change your flight. Just remember to check in on time so you can get an optimal boarding position. Being able to check in two bags in addition to a carry on and a backpack is essential when you are flying into a camping festival. Depending on your tent, this can be one of your checked items. I would highly recommend investing in a tent that meets the weight and size limits (some can be considered a golf club/surfboard size and allowed). Utilize your second checked bag for your other camping supplies like an air mattress, or safe space by getting a mattress pad instead. They are a little less luxurious but if you buy the right one can be just as comfortable while saving a ton of space. An inflatable pillow and lightweight sleeping bag or other space-saving sleeping solutions. I even discovered recently that they make foldable tables and chairs that fold up really small. A lot of supplies for backpackers, like tiny camping stoves, are great items to purchase when you are trying to save space. Make sure your checked bag is large enough for big items like a tarp but not too large you overpack it and go over the weight limits (keep this in mind when packing). Also, keep in mind that airlines typically don’t weigh carry on bags so as long as you can lift it then pack your heavy stuff there.
Divide and Conquer
If you are camping with a group try to divide up who is bringing what. Get together with your squad before and plan out what you need. Have those that are driving bring bulky items like a canopy and chairs. Offer to bring a tent, decorations, tapestries, and other items that you can easily pack. If this is not an option then get creative with the tips listed above.
While it can seem like a daunting task, flying to a camping festival can be pretty simple if you plan ahead. The best part, once you do it then you’ll know for next time! I would highly suggest starting to prepare well in advance. Do a test run to make sure all your suitcases zip and are underweight requirements. Just please be mindful of what you are buying when you land near the festival and try to only buy things you will reuse or find a good home for.