The festival season is upon us again and for many teenagers attending their first festival is an undisputed rite of passage, as they celebrate the end of exams and enjoy some quasi adult independence.
As a parent it can be a testing time but it can be made easier. The first time my eldest teen went I spent days, (maybe weeks) talking to not only parents of teenagers that had already been, but also young twenty somethings full of festival "know-how".
Now it is me that friends are contacting for advice so for those who maybe in a similar situation this year with their own teenager here are my top tips for reducing your stress and making their experience a lot easier.
- Ticket PDF: we learnt the hard way! Make sure they download a PDF of their ticket onto their phone in case they forget the paper version!
- Tent: Don't send them with your best "family" tent. Buy a cheap pop up festival tent which they can just leave behind (most festival organisers recycle them). It is also a good idea to buy one slightly bigger than they need so there is room for them to store their kit and still have room to collapse after a day's partying.
- Tent Finder App: Gone are the days of attaching a flag to your tent to help you locate it amidst the sea of tents, now finding your tent in the middle of the night has just been made easier with the launch of a new app that lets you mark where you pitch your tent using GPS and then is saved as a pin on your phone map - genius!
- Phone+Portable Charger: They will get separated from their friends and will regret it if they don't take their phones. Most festivals have lockers for hire and come with charging sockets which are worth hiring otherwise get a portable charger which they can use to charge their phone several times over.
- Bum-Bag: To store their valuables when they are partying.
- Wellies: They are ubiquitous with festivals but there are two important things to bear in mind, firstly don't send them with cheap ones or they will return with blisters aplenty after days of sweaty dancing and secondly they will want a change of footwear at some point - wellies 24/7 is really only for the foolhardy or for those that just don't dance!
- Mac-In-A-Sac: Even if the forecast is non-stop sunshine, remember this is England after-all.
- Headtorch: For those moments when they may need to find the loo in the middle of the night and want their hands free.
- Bin-bags: To store dirty clothes, rubbish and stick over any holes that may appear in their tent.
- Giant Wet Wipes: These are a shower in a bag essentially and as the novelty of being dirty wears off after 36 hours, they will thank you for forcing that extra packet in their rucksack as they head out of the door.
- Deodorant/Toothpaste: No explanation needed, but make sure it is a roll-on deodorant, aerosols are forbidden.
- Plastic Bottles: Some festivals are more rigorous than others, but glass bottles are a no-go so decant liquids into plastic bottles to ensure they can keep hold of it.
- Food: Festival food is expensive and even teenagers have a limit on how many buns they can eat containing a variety of meat. Fruit in a tin is perfect for those mornings when they wake up wanting something resembling fresh and juicy, plus it will help to get their blood sugar up. There are also plenty of specialist hot meal kits available from camping stores, but they will need a stove.
- Hand Sanitiser: Festivals are germ farms and anti-bacterial gel is a necessity before they tuck into their festival grub, to avoid spending days huddled in a tent with food poisoning.
- Loo Roll: They can never have too much!
- Medical Kit: Paracetomal (because they will get a headache!) and blister plasters!
- Berocca: A high dose of vitamins and energy in a tablet for the days when they are wilting and need a pick-me-up.
- Sunscreen: All teenagers dismiss it, but sunstroke is not a good look when you are trying to be festival cool.
- First Aid by British Red Cross: Medical assistance is widely available at festivals but sometimes problems arise that need immediate attention. When my teenager choked it was the fast reaction of a friend that saved him. This app from the British Red Cross is full of practical tips on handling everyday scenarios.
- Water: For re-hydrating and cleaning.
A final word of warning goes to the parents....Teenagers like to think they are invincible but humans were not designed to withstand three-five days of continuous drinking, eating rubbish food, jumping and sleep deprivation, they will return smelly, grumpy and exhausted and totally disinclined to answer any questions. Expect grunting of a disproportionate nature from anything you may have experienced before and for them to sleep for close to 24 hours - yes seeing is believing!