The festival season is well and truly upon us. Radio One's Big Weekend kicks off proceedings this weekend with the Isle of Wight Festival and Download hot on its heels. The mother ship of festivals, Glastonbury, is also a little under 4 weeks away.
Interestingly the average age of festival goers has crept up into the mid 30s over recent years. Perhaps the enchanting appeal of a summer festival has grown-up with this generation, or it could be the fact that attending a 3-day festival will set you back over £500 and many younger people simply can't afford it. The price of a weekend ticket alone can be pretty eye watering - around the £200 mark for the UK's biggest festivals.
How to get a cheaper ticket:
Buy tickets as early as possible to make the most of early bird offers. If you're late to join the party and official means of getting a ticket is no longer an option, be very wary of buying tickets through unofficial resale sites or touts - you could get left massively out of pocket.
Consider putting yourself forward for a volunteering role. Festival organisers usually advertise these positions on their websites. You'll be asked to put in around 8 hours of work a day monitoring gates, giving out wristbands and litter picking. In return you'll get your ticket for free and you may even get given crew food too. Be prepared to miss out on your favourite acts though as you can't be picky about the shifts you are given.
Get there for less:
If there are a group of you going, driving can save you money but don't forget to take a luggage trolley to get all your kit from the car to the campsite. Most festival sites are huge and you'll more than likely have to walk a mile or two with your tent, luggage and crates of beer. Remember to factor in the cost of fuel and parking too. Even with these taken into consideration, driving can be cheaper and more convenient than getting the train.
Consider the good old fashioned coach too though as this is often the cheapest way to get there. When it comes to traveling via public transport book early and be prepared to be crammed in with thousands of other tired festival goers on the way home.
What to pack:
Be prepared to take everything you need with you if you want to save some serious money. Toiletries, alcohol, soft drinks, food and even bottled water are generally very expensive once on-site. Pop to the supermarket before you get there and stock up on food and drink that doesn't need refrigerating or cooking. Here's a handy check list of everything you are going to need;
Leave your precious valuables at home - no need for iPads or laptops at a festival; use it as an excuse to have a weekend completely screen-free. Don't be tempted to take anything that you definitely want to go home with and consider getting yourself decent insurance in case you lose your phone. Putting wallets and phones in pockets is a no-no - a satchel or money belt is the smarter and safer way to go.
How much will I need to spend for a good time:
It's so easy to get swept up in the magic of it all once you are in your festival bubble but it's important to be honest with yourself and work out what you can truly afford to spend before you go. Don't blow your entire budget in the first two days at the bar; figure out a daily budget and stick to it like glue.
Take cash because the queues for the ATM's can be dreadful and don't forget to budget for charging your phone. Most festivals have charging stations or will rent you a portable battery that you can drop off once it's drained and swap for a fully charged one.
Be prepared - if you don't pack properly your experience could wind up being a pretty miserable one. Tent life can take its toll, especially when the ground has turned into a quagmire, you've only slept for 2 hours a night and you haven't showered in days.
Be sure to pack warm clothes for sleeping in, ear plugs to drown out the noise when you really do want to sleep and plenty of baby wipes. Comfortable footwear should be on top of your list. Designer wellies might look cool for 5 minutes but you'll be glum when you wind up with blisters and welly rash.
Once you've made friends with your neighbouring camping group, the weather has been kind, you got out of the mosh pit alive and the music was simply awesome, a good festival can leave a footprint in your heart that no holiday abroad could ever compete with. Suddenly that £500 will all seem so worth it.