How to Do Music Festivals on a Budget

Nothing compares to that euphoric feeling you get from seeing your favourite artists performing live, but that feeling often comes at a steep price. Music festival experiences can quickly add up. With most tickets costing at least a few hundred dollars, you then need to think about food, accommodation, transport, drinks etc. You may feel that a summer full of events is out of reach, but I’m here to help! Here are my best tips for doing music festivals on a budget to get you on your way to enjoying all those events you’ve bucket listed.

1. Get your festival tickets early.

Many festivals will sell tickets in several waves, with early bird tickets going first and at a significant discount. They usually go on sale before the festival even announces the lineup. Look back on previous lineups, if you get a good vibe from it don’t waste any time and get on those early birds and save serious cash!

2. Skip the weekend pass, get a day ticket.

A weekend festival ticket can easily set you back a few hundred dollars. If you’re trying to do as many music festivals as possible this summer and have to stick to a budget, you might want to think about getting day passes to each event rather than a full pass.

3. Share travel costs with other festival-goers.

If you plan on driving to the music festival, gather a group of friends to carpool, this way you can split the cost of petrol, parking and tollways. And if you can’t motivate enough people in your close circle, try reaching out to other festival-goers in the festival’s online community. In the past, when I’ve organised transport and still had seats available, I’ve put up a post on the festival’s event page on social media to see if anyone else needs a ride. This way you alleviate costs and also make new festival buddies before even getting there!

4. Plan your travel ahead of time.

If the event you’re heading to isn’t within driving distance make sure you secure your travel plans ahead of time. The closer you get to the event date, the more expensive airfares or train tickets become. If you’re trying to do music festivals on a budget then always book your travel months beforehand.

5. Choose camping at the festival over staying in a hotel.

If you’re given the option of camping at the festival then take it! This is usually much cheaper than staying at a hotel nearby and it also gives you a more immersive festival experience. If you stay at a hotel you’ll also have to think about getting a taxi to/from the event which is an additional cost to avoid.

6. Not a camper? Find budget-friendly accommodation.

If you can’t bear the thought of camping, there are a few other budget-friendly accommodation options you can try. Do a scan of your network of friends to see if you know anyone that lives in the same city the festival is taking place in. It’s worth reaching out to them as they might be able to put you up for the weekend. Alternatively, do some research on the area using Google Maps or Booking.com to find a cheap hostel or hotel. The key is to find something that’s within your budget, comfortable enough and that’s not too far from the festival.

7. Volunteer at the event.

Save cash on festival tickets by volunteering to work at the event! Many festivals need volunteers to scan tickets, clean up between sets or sell merchandise. When you aren’t working the festival, you’ll get a chance to catch acts and have a walk around the festival.

8. Set a daily spending budget.

To avoid overspending, try setting a budget for every day that you’re at the festival. It makes it easier to keep track of your purchases and know how much you’ve got to spend on food/drinks/activities each day.

9. Keep your money safe at all times.

Unfortunately, losing cash is very common at music festivals. They’re one place where we can notoriously become quite careless and this can quickly lead to some mishaps. Always make sure you store your cash in a safe place (never your pockets!), where it’s not a risk of falling out or getting pickpocketed. I also recommend keeping your cash on you at all times, never leave it in your tent in case it gets broken into.

10. Only bring essentials to the venue.

But one of the biggest expenses can be replacing clothes/belongings that get damaged or stolen. My advice is to leave anything expensive or that’s considered non-essential at home.

11. Save money on food and drinks.

festivals will always have a range of food trucks and drink stands to cater to every budget. Never buy the first thing you see, walk around first to find something that’s within your spending limit. 

Always check the festival FAQs before going to see if you’re able to bring in your own food/drinks. If you can, think about packing a picnic to save money!

12. Always pack a reusable bottle.

Anyone who’s ever bought water at a music festival knows how quickly this expense gets out of hand. Most festivals have free water refill stations so always pack a reusable bottle. Not only are they eco-friendly but they’ll spare you some cash that you can spend on other things.

13. Recycle cups for cash.

Some music festivals operate thrifty recycling schemes that reward festival-goers for returning used cups. This helps you earn a little cash for every cup you pick up. You could easily fund parts of your festival weekend by doing this, at least a couple of rounds of drinks. Find out if the festival is operating this type of scheme via their socials, so you don’t miss out of any action!

14. Score free swag at the event.

The festival and its sponsors will promote any offers or free giveaways they’re doing a few weeks before the event takes place. Follow them and stay up-to-date on their pre-festival announcements. You could score promo codes for travel, entry to after parties and free goods at the festival, sometimes even booze!

Don’t be shy, share this post now with your festival crew! 
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