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Fest-iquette

Hello... Internet? I'm not great at introductions, but since it'd be kinda weird if I just started posting about things like everything's normal when clearly IT ISN'T it's probably best to get the awkward niceties out of the way. (Deep breaths): My name is Eddie, I'm a lowly intern at Where I've Been, revolutionaries of the travelsphere, and we just might change your life . Yes, you. I'll let that sink in.

Since I've already failed to prove my worth, I'm going to just skip the "Tell us sum fun factz!!" portion and get right into the dirt of this post. Literal dirt. I'm going to my second Bonnaroo festival this weekend, which has made it hard for me to focus on anything life-related at the moment. But back to the dirt: Bonnaroo is a dirty place with dirty, filthy people. Music festivals are as much about the dirt as they are the music. You're going to be rubbing up against people who embrace dirt, who live in dirt, bathe in it, and wouldn't hesitate to put it in a pipe and inhale it if they heard it carried "medicinal" qualities. And these dirt creatures are only the beginning. Since these festivals can and should become a staple of your summer--and might become a culture shock for the uninitiated--I thought any prospective travelers could learn from the good and bad vibes I've picked up along the way.

  • You can't hear it while you're flailing your arms to that totally sweet band you read about on that one sweet blog, but during those rare moments of silence, raise your ear to outer space: Can you hear that? It's the sound of hundreds of cell phone company satellites crashing into one another, unable to grasp the concept that 80,000 people in one deserted corner of the United States need to make constant calls for just one weekend in the summertime. If you can plan it well enough, it's preferable to avoid the phone hassle altogether. But if you're traveling from stage to stage in a few clusters of people, it can be handy to carry around a couple walkie-talkies instead. Besides the obvious benefit of friend communication, you'll have the absolute pleasure of listening to festies trying to solicit illegal substances and truckers trying to tell them to shut the hell up. It will also make you feel really important, and that cannot be underestimated. You can find walkie-talkies for pretty cheap at RadioShack or Target.
  • Another thing that cannot be underestimated: The infinite power of an extra roll of toilet paper. A lot of port-a-johns will provide it for you, but imagine the terrifying scenario where you're at your most vulnerable and you are without wiping materials--it's tough to wish that on your worst enemy. And for as cheap as I am, I've learned to do myself a favor by skipping out on the one-ply rolls and ponying up some extra change for the quilted stuff. When you're in a small plastic building and people are violently knocking for you to finish, the last thing you'll want is a sheet of papyrus touching your sensitive bits.
  • When it gets dark, you will almost certainly face a maze of spun-out wooks. Don't be alarmed--they're real-life human beings, and they're not dead. Step over and around the hibernating wooks and move on .
  • If you're a dork like me, you have already painstakingly mapped out your arrival at certain stages for your favorite bands up to the millisecond. While it's a fun exercise, unfortunately it's also wholly unrealistic: You will miss a few bands you were dying to see, and there's a good chance it will be because you and/or your friends are absolutely exhausted. Don't get too hard on yourself or your friends if you need to take a nap or a water break --you won't be able to plan for it, but it will be essential. Which brings me to the next point:
  • Don't be afraid to ditch your friends . The chances your itinerary perfectly corresponds with a pal's is astronomical, and this really is not that big of a deal. At the very least, make sure you plan an ultimate meeting place by the end of the night. Even if you're painfully shy, it's hard to avoid interaction with some unfamiliar faces when you're walking around, and this can be a great thing. There's some sort of cosmic alignment of camaraderie that occurs at the larger festivals--probably the collective experience of living in filth for music--that feels entirely natural and genuine, even though you may never speak to the people ever again. The (gulp) "good vibes" can infect you when you least expect it, and it's pretty jarring when it happens.
If this provides you with a modicum of perspective or advice, color me pleased. Be sure to hit up Where I've Been upon return from each of your festival jaunts to tell stories, write reviews, upload pictures and video and chat about it with your friends. In the meantime, I've got a few 90-degree hot dates with Bruce Springsteen, Al Green, David Byrne and Animal Collective to catch.
Eddie, Intern
Where I've Been
eddie@whereivebeen.com
http://www.twitter.com/whereivebeen

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