Submitted Date 02/12/2019

For the second post in this “Ballin on a Budget” miniseries, I want to talk about music festivals. As both an avid festival goer and major budgeter, I am all about doing music festivals as cost effectively as possible. Don’t get me wrong, it’s awesome to go to a festival and completely ball out, but a lot of the time I don’t have that luxury, especially if I’m doing more than one festival that year. So in this post, I will talk about different tips and tricks that can help you do music festivals as inexpensively as possible.

The four main expenses when attending a music festival are always the ticket, the travel, the lodging if the festival doesn’t offer camping, and the food. There’s really not too many ways to get around the price of the ticket, but the earlier you purchase your ticket, the cheaper it will be. Try to figure out which festivals you’re going to as early as possible so that you can buy your ticket when it’s on the first (and cheapest) pricing tier. Tons of music festivals offer payment plans too which can be very helpful if you don’t have the funds to cover the full cost of the ticket right away. Another option is to volunteer at the festival. Volunteering will grant you free access to the music festival and you usually only have to work a few hours each day, so you do still have time to go enjoy yourself. This is definitely the easiest way to get around paying the price of the ticket. But if you don’t want to have to work while you’re at the festival, there is another way to gain a free ticket—you can become a promoter for the festival. This option does require some sales skills. You usually have to sell around ten tickets to the music festival in order to gain a free ticket for yourself. If you already know of friends who are going, you could ask if they wouldn’t mind buying the ticket from you rather than from the festival’s website. A lot of the time when festivals offer promoter positions, they will give you a code so that anyone who buys from you gets a few bucks off their ticket which could definitely help your sales.

The next costly thing is travel. This is only expensive if the festival you are attending is far away. If you’re lucky, the festival you want to go to will only be two hours away so you can easily drive there on one tank of gas. But maybe the festival you really want to attend is a few states away. This is when the travel costs begin to grow expensive. If the festival is a camping one, flying is probably not going to be your best option. Flying with all of your camping gear is both difficult and expensive, so your best bet is to drive. Try to get as many people as you can to carpool together because the more people you take with you, the more people you’ll have to chip in for gas. Drive on cruise control when you’re on the highway. This can help save gas while you’re driving. If you do decide to fly for whatever reason, download the Hopper app on your phone so that you can watch your flight and see when the cheapest time to book it will be. Keep in mind how much luggage you’re going to need to take with you because lots of airlines do not include a checked bag, and some of them don’t even include a carry on. My personal favorite airline to fly on is Southwest because they include a checked bag and a carry on with your ticket, so you don’t have to worry about any additional surprise fees when you fly with them.

If the music festival you’re attending does not offer camping, then finding a place to stay may turn out to be the most expensive part of your trip. Hotels can be very expensive, so I prefer seeing if I can find something on Airbnb before booking a hotel. Not only is Airbnb usually less expensive than staying in a hotel, it usually also has a lot more space and amenities. With more space, you can have more people stay with you which can reduce the price of lodging because that’s more people to chip in for it. When you do book your hotel or Airbnb, be sure to take into account how far from the festival it is too. Let’s say you find something that’s walking distance, but it’s a little more expensive than a place that’s a few miles away. It may seem cheaper at the time, but when you calculate how much it’s going to cost to either Uber back and forth there or pay for parking if you decide to bring your own car, it may end up being either more expensive than the closer place or around the same price. I think being walking distance makes things a lot more convenient and easy, especially if you choose to drink at the festival. Ubers tend to have high surge prices when a big event is going on too, so take that into account when you’re figuring out how much everything will cost.

The next thing I’d like to talk about is food and drink. While festival food can be very tasty and convenient, it can also be extremely expensive. So if you’re trying to save money, bringing your own food is a great option. If the festival doesn’t have camping, you’ll have more options of what you can bring because you’ll be staying in either a hotel or an Airbnb which will probably have a fridge, microwave, or even an oven. However, if you’re at a camping festival, your options are going to be a little bit more limited. Some festivals allow you to bring in grills which gives you the option of bringing things like burgers and hot dogs, both being inexpensive and full of protein. Many festivals do no allow grills inside though. One of my favorite foods to bring to a festival that is both inexpensive and filling is pasta salad. One easy recipe is a southwest pasta salad. All you need for this is pasta, black beans, corn, shredded cheese, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, and ranch dressing. You toss all the ingredients together in a large bowl and refrigerate it overnight before you leave for the festival. Then when you leave, you just toss it in your cooler. You can add or take away ingredients depending on what you like as well. Some other inexpensive foods you can bring are bananas, carrots and cucumber slices with either ranch or hummus, chips and salsa, granola bars, things to make PB&Js, and lunch meat. I personally like to budget in two food vendor meals because I eventually grow tired of eating the foods that I brought, but that’s just me. Make sure to bring tons of water too. Water inside the festival is expensive so see what their rules are on bringing in water bottles. Lots of festivals won’t allow any outside food or drink inside, so investing in a camelback or large refillable water bottle could save you a ton of money inside the festival.

Lastly, it is very important to be sure that you haven’t forgotten any toiletries or festival essentials when you pack for a festival because buying them at the festival’s general store will be very expensive. You can refer back to my post titled “How to Survive Your First Music Festival” for a list of packing essentials. If you do plan to spend money on things like food or merchandise inside the festival but want to make sure you stay within your budget, leave your credit card locked inside your car and only take in cash to spend. This way, you won’t be tempted to put something on your card even though it’s not in the budget when you’re drunk at midnight and see a hat pin that you just have to have. Don’t forget to take into account the days of work you’ll have to take off when you’re budgeting for a festival too!


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