“THE BUDGET-FRIENDLY GUIDE TO FESTIVALS ”
1. Skip the hotel. Hotels are often more expensive than tickets, and rates can increase as much as 75% during festival weekends and quickly sell out, so it’s important to plan ahead.
On-site camping is the best way to save on accommodation and transportation costs, but if venue restrictions don’t allow it, there are other ways to save. Going solo? The Radiate app is designed to connect you with other concert and festival goers.
Hostels are an awesome way to save in big cities, and are a great way to meet fellow festival goers. Hostelworld is our favorite resource for booking and vetting places to stay, and many offer free breakfast (score!).
If you’re more adventurous, Couchsurfing will match you with locals that will let you stay in their home - for free! It’s a great way to meet people. Look for profiles that are well reviewed by other travelers, and if you’re a female, only stay with female hosts.
Airbnb can be a great option if you’re traveling with groups, but due to its increased popularity book as early as possible to avoid soaring prices.
Bonus tip: plan your accommodation around train and bus routes. This will help you save big bucks on surging Lyft and Uber prices.
2. Volunteer for entry. In exchange for several shifts of event support, some festivals over free entry. While not as glamorous as VIP, this is a unique experience and perspective on festival life. Bonnaroo, SXSW, Outlook, Coachella, Burning Man, and Electric Forest all offer volunteer or work-exchange options for entry.
If you don’t see volunteer options available, email the festival organizers - event staffing is often organized by third party vendors, and they could be hiring.
3. Withdraw cash before you arrive. Cash-only bars plus high ATM fees can add up quickly. ATMs in venues can charge astronomical fees - some as high as $5 per transaction - and after a weekend of hard partying, it’s not uncommon for festival ATMs to run out of cash.
Before you go, plan out a tentative budget and withdraw what you’ll need to cover food, parking, transportation, and drinks. Paying in cash over credit is also a great way to stay mindful of what you’re spending.
4. Early Bird gets the worm. While there unfortunately aren’t any great ways around crazy high festival ticket prices, consider this your February reminder to sign up for presale reminders right now. This is the best way to save on concert and festival tickets, and once presale prices end, tickets prices will only steadily increase as the event date approaches.
While it’s possible to find cheap tickets in the days leading up to the event, be mindful of scams. Venmo, PayPal, and Chase QuickPay are notorious for leaving scam victims high and dry, so stick to cash or reputable resale sites.