Festivals were originally a low-cost activity. Think of Woodstock and the early days of Glastonbury. They were spontaneous events organized by the people, for the people. We have all seen the photos and video footage of crowds simply turning up in battered old vans, sharing food around campfires and either squeezing into a worn out old tent or simply sleeping under the stars. Even the acts would perform free.
For better or worse, the festival scene has evolved significantly and today we have to consider the cost of tickets, travel, food and accommodation as an absolute minimum. Taking all this into account, it is fair to say that festivals are no longer always a low-cost option and the people who enjoy going to them the most, teenagers and young adults, are those with the greatest need to budget.
Perhaps ironically for a scene that celebrates spontaneity, being organized before going to a festival means that when you get there you can relax in the knowledge that you are getting best value for money out of your trip. Here are some things to think about:
- Travel light. One of the great joys of festivals is the sense of getting back to basics. Ask yourself what you really need to enjoy yourself then forget the luxuries. Make it fun. Put yourself in the shoes of the original festivalgoers and set yourself the challenge of fitting it all into the one bag. Choose clothes that can be mixed and matched, invest in some staple pieces such as Wellingtons and slim jeggings that can be worn again and again.
- Shop around. Once you have decided what you are going to take, go online to compare prices and get the best deals. Also think about friends and family from whom you might be able to borrow or buy second-hand.
- Travel Options. The festival scene is a truly global one, so if you are travelling abroad make sure you shop around for flights and consider the hidden costs before choosing a low-cost airline. When you get there consider all your options and balance the cost of a hire car for example with a bus or train ticket.
- Share and share alike. Festivals are a hugely social event and a great chance to get to bond with your friends in a whole new way. Split the costs of a tent and anything else you can think of, especially if you plan on attending more than one festival together in any one season. Budgeting with a friend also means you are far more like to spend within your means.
Expect the Unexpected
No matter how organized you are, hidden costs and unexpected events can take us by surprise. Whatever the reason it is critical to know what to do should the worst happen and funds run out. Ensure you are prepared for all circumstances and always have a back up plan.
With a bit of forward planning and careful consideration of all your options, it is possible to experience the old-fashioned joys of a festival at old-fashioned prices, and be comfortable in the knowledge that you are prepared for anything.