Festival Survival Guide list, tips, hacks & more

Definitive 40 must have items on your festival survival list

How to win the festival game!

If your are a festival fresher or think you are well versed in the game that is ‘ the festival experience’ then look no further! Harry from Square Snaps’ guide to making the most of your trip, with tips, tricks, advice and new ideas to make festival life easy with things that you may not have thought of before!

I first went to a festival when I was 11, they were only daytime festivals in London, but I got the bug, and have been going to new and exciting festivals year on year ever since! Here is my advice from someone who has made all the mistakes so you don’t have to, this is what I learnt with some tricks and tips I picked up along the way.

1. Bring extra money and hide it somewhere you’ll remember.

Extra money for the taxi ride home at the end of the week, or a water, food, or emergency hangover coffee and a fry-up when you are starving can be a life-saver.
Cash is accepted everywhere, unlike plastic. Hide in your sock or bra so it does not fall out when jumping around, just in case. ;)

Festival Survival Guide list, tips, hacks, must haves & more-festival-money hiding

How to hide your valuables in your tent

One of my favourites was seeing someone put their valuables in a nappy, with mud on the outside (I saw them use mud don’t worry), and wrapping it back up. No one is going to want to open that up for a look.

2. Original ID documents (not photocopies)

They are needed for a lot of festivals, and for buying alcohol.

3. Food, bring your own.

Festival food is PRICEY. Bring cereal bars, ready wrapped sandwiches etc instead of throwing out a fiver on a bacon bap, and you’ll save about twenty quid on those plastic noodles and mystery meat burgers in the evening. My staple was peanut butter and raw nuts (non-salty), It didn’t go off in the heat and gave me the energy to keep dancing around like a nutter all weekend! Nuts are slow release!
Bring fruit! It sounds weird, but by day 3 in a dusty field, only eating bread, chocolate bars and crisps, an apple or orange will seem like the holy grail of food!

4. Do I need a pillow?

Pillows can bulk out your whole bag when you’re trying to pack. Save some room, and just fold up a pillowcase in there. When you arrive, just stuff the pillowcase with your clothes! (You probably won’t be doing much sleeping anyway)

5. Phone

Festival Survival Guide list, tips, hacks, must haves & more-nokia 3310-snake two-best game ever

Indestructible phone with the best game ever! http://http://androidreports.com/2015/05/10/remember-snake-nokia-prepare-android/

You remember your old Nokia you had ten years ago? Well then find it! Let’s be honest, your iPhone just won’t cut it. Not only will the battery not even last you an afternoon (or less if you are an Instagram selfie addict), but there’s always that risk of dropping them down the loo. You will not want it back after that. Your trusty retro phone(s) will last all weekend, and if you lose it, well, who cares, it isn’t your £700 iPhone containing all your tinder history is it?  Just remember to have your numbers written down beforehand.

If you have a battery extender and you are all charged up and ready to go, and battery is not an issue for you, then use the app, ‘find my friends’ and get all your friends who are going to so sign up, then you can find each other then the inevitable moment comes when you lose each other.


A Pop-up tent is best, after a long walk carrying all of your stuff, the last thing you want to do is wrestle, possibly in the dark, trying to put a tent together. It is also super easy to move around if you want to squeeze another tent in your group circle, or if a big muddy puddle patch appears outside your tent door.

Festival Survival Guide list, tips, hacks, must haves & more-funny-tent-festival fail

Don’t be this guy! http://www.thepoke.co.uk/2014/06/25/20-reasons-to-be-thankful-that-you-arent-going-to-a-music-festival/tent-fail-funny/

7. Label your valuables

Hide valuables in your pillow, write your number & address on them, in case you lose them  out and about, or you leave them behind and they can be returned to you.

8. Team fancy dress

It makes everyone in your group so much easier to spot and streamlines what face paint you need to bring, this was the only day me and my friends did not lose each other. Plus you can always ask people have they seen a 6ft 2 Baywatch-style lifeguard with balloon boobs and wig come this way?

Festival Survival Guide list, tips, hacks, must haves & more-Glastonbury 2015-festival fancy dress

Example from Glastonbury 2015

9.  Warm jumper

Night times and early mornings are cold even in summer.

10. Have a none denim option

If you get wet, it will get heavy and is not going to dry quickly

11. A classic flannel shirt

Festival Survival Guide list, tips, hacks, must haves & more.-how to wear a flannel shirt

Ways of wearing your flannel shirt

Will still look good tied around your waist when it gets hot, but can keep you warm in the evenings.

12. Inflatable mattress

They are awesome but are likely to burst,  foam mats make equally good padding under your sleeping bag. In the past, I have used an inflatable rubber ring from the pound shop, even a kids one will do. It takes up way less space than any camp chair, can also act like a pillow, you don’t mind if it pops as it was super cheap. After a day & night of walking  (usually around 3-5miles) you are going to want a comfortable seat, your sofa will never feel so good when you get home.


That you don’t mind getting dirty, because it will get dirty, really dirty

14. A Tarp or waterproof mat

Or a few, at least this way you can sit down without getting a wet bum, or put it in the entrance of your tent, so you don’t drag any more mud into your tent, or wrap up your shoes in it overnight. It can also act as an emergency poncho.

15. Rock your fanny pack

Even if it is your mums from the 80s! No more worries of phones and wallets falling out of pockets when you are jumping around having the time of your life!

16. A watch

You don’t need to charge your watch and you can play time lord for the day when everyone wants to know what time it is and their phones are dead.

17. Duct tape is a must!

Fixes leaky ripped tents, camera straps, torn trousers and can waterproof the toes of your shoes. Or you can put plastic bags inside your shoes to save your feet and tape them around your ankles, perfect, your feet stay dry. You can tape and repair your backpack, or tape extra items you couldn’t fit back in for the trek home, or even create a whacky cyborg fancy dress out of it.

Festival Survival Guide list, tips, hacks, must haves & more-festival hack-festival guide-festival tips

Bionic waterproof shoes

18. Bin bags

(bring a pack) a substitute poncho for when it rains, wet clothes store, wet anything store, carrying all the stuff you can not be bothered to re-pack on the last day back to the car. A tent repair kit along with your duct tape. I even saw a girl make a pretty cool fancy dress out of them with some string and tape. Some ordinary carrier bags are always useful for carrying bottles to the tap, storing muddy flipflops, or carrying that fancy dress hat you can’t fit in your bag.

19. Bring pens, paper and water soluble paint

in case you want to get a little creative one night after the music goes down, or you want to exchange numbers and your phone is dead. Get colourful, (maybe not too permanent though, remember those shower queues.)

20. Glitter if you dare!

You can rub it into vaseline, mix with makeup or suncream for the glitter glow vibe! But warning- It will get EVERYWHERE! So maybe keep this one for the last day, unless you want to look like a unicorn has sneezed on you! #notchic

Festival Survival Guide list, tips, hacks, must haves & more-festival-glitter-glitterbomb

This could be you on your way home. http://sourcefed.com/its-time-to-glitterbomb-your-enemies-for-just-9-99/

21. Festivals are all about having fun so channel your inner youth and grab your toys!

Water pistols  are a great distraction when it’s hot during the day, and you can fill them with any liquid, just in case you want to bypass any alcohol restrictions- drink responsibly ;).

22. A wind-up or battery-powered radio

for those daytime chilling moments back at your tent.

23. A torch

there are no street lamps in a field. Plus you are going to want to save your phone battery. A lighter (back up torch), even if you don’t smoke, you will be other people’s hero, or you can just hold up like an 80s concert.

24.   Water bottles, the big ones!

The tap is probably a long walk away, and will have a queue. Beer & cider will not hydrate you! Make sure you stay hydrated. It will probably help with the hangover and nobody wants to get a headache from dehydration or get ill during a loud festival.

25. Scissors

To cut duct tape, string, alter clothes last minute if it gets hotter last minute, opening food packets and lots more uses.

26. Mirror

For checking you are photo ready, and your face paint and eyebrows are still ‘on point’ for the day’s activities.

27. Pack smart!

Work out your outfits for each day, and include one warm outfit, in case you get caught in the rain, but a poncho is still a must. If you purchase something new for the Festival, remove all the excess packing at home, before you arrive. It saves space, hassle, and is better for good old mother earth than just leaving it in a field.

28. Bring a swimsuit or two.

Chances are, it’s going to be hot, even if the weather is typically British and it rains, if you are jumping around in a packed and crowded – you’re going to want to take some clothes off, if not most of them off – having a swimsuit handy or on underneath means you’ll be able to soak up the rays in style. Plus they dry super quick & wash easily, meaning you can double up days, saving room in your bag for more fun things.

Festival Survival Guide list, tips, hacks, must haves & more.-packing tips-how to pack for a festival

Packing level 10

29. A hat

Not only will it help calm down that morning party hair, but also protect you from the sun, you don’t want to ruin your festival experience with sun stroke, or look like a lobster with sun stroke. Plus you can hide under your hat and sunglasses like a celeb when you are dragging yourself home at the end of the weekend.

30. Sunglasses

Bring as many as you can! Think cheap! Think classic, think Primarmi, think pound shop. You will probably loose or break at least one pair. I got through a pair a day at Bestival one time thanks to a combination of jumping around too hard in the crowd, and clumsy friends in my tent. This is one of the view moments you can really pull off those 70s hippie rose tinted sunglasses! So go for it! Please no neon frat party sunglasses though, you are better than that! If in doubt, go classic all black!

Festival Survival Guide list, tips, hacks, must haves & more-fashion-festival fashion

That hippie 70s vibe

31. Suncream

Maybe go for an all day long one, as you are probably not going to be able to pop back to your tent to re-apply a few times a day. You don’t want to look like a lobster.

Festival Survival Guide list, tips, hacks, must haves & more-funny sunburn-bad sunburn-festival fail

The Festival Lobster

32. Face wipes & more face wipes

They are your shower, makeup remover and emergency toilet roll all in one.

33. Toilet roll

Need we say more? Don’t be conservative, you don’t want to run out of this.

34. Deodorant

The shower in a can – when showers queues can be 3hours long it is a no brainer. Remember tents get hot in the sun!

35. Micro fibre towel

Takes up less room and dries super quick, add it to your pillow pack.

36. Dry shampoo

You ARE going to get sweaty if you are having fun! That morning hair in a hot tent full of your hungover friends is not going to have you looking at your best.

37. Basic first aid kit

Plasters, bit relief, bandage, the basics. This is sooo worth it! Festivals are not all bouncy castles and rainbows. There are bits of tents, food packaging, fancy dress,  broken plastic, beer cans and clumsy people falling around everywhere! I managed to stub (break it as it turned out) and cut my foot quite badly on day one a few years back, even in my solid old Nike AF1 trainers! Plasters and duct tape around my toes kept it all in place whilst jumping around saved me! Be the hero festivals need.


Say nooo to the flip-flop, toms or sandals to walk around in, flip flops might be ok to wander to the tap in the morning or between your groups tent if it’s not too muddy, but if you want to be able to walk, and still have toes at the end of the week. Closed toe trainers or wellies that you are comfortable walking long distances in. If you are going for wellies- thick welly socks are a good choice!  Even kate moss wears wellies.
Wellies can be fashionable too


39. Earplugs

You are going to want earplugs. Possibly for the crazy loud dance tent if you want to go party at the front and care about your ears. Or if you really love your sleep and want to be able to lay in and recover without being woken up by the herds of stumbling festival goers around you. Also perfect for falling asleep on the way home.

40. Most importantly, have fun!!!!

#Monday vibes to counteract the #glastonbury blues. ❤️💜💛💚💙

A photo posted by Charissa Chadderton (@charissac) on

#lifeisallabouthememories so capture every moment and take it all it! Why not get all those amazing festival memories printed in classic polaroid style with our photo prints starting from £6.99. Keep those memories alive! Look out for our up-coming Square Snaps guide to getting camera-ready for that Festival look Photography and Square Snaps Photography Guide to Festival Fun blog posts coming soon.

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