I’ve been underprepared for camping music festivals and I’ve been over prepared. Trust me, the Boy Scouts were on to something. You don’t want to forget that extra pair of shoes when your other pair starts giving you blisters or you’ll find yourself barefoot the entire weekend which, seems liberating until you need to use the port-o-potty. Not exactly a fun experience. I won’t make that mistake again.
But, you’re in luck my lovely festies! Due to my past packing failures and successes, I am now a maven of the delicate dance which is packing for a festival. My hope is that camping festival newbies and experts alike will find this list helpful. Maybe I’ll prevent you from those sole splitting blisters but, at the very least, my hope is to keep you from smelling like an onion that’s been soaked in someone’s piss all day.
So, without further ado, here’s THE survival guide and list of things to bring to Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival 2017:
Tent: OMF only has enough camping space for 2 tents per car, so pack accordingly. TIP: Make sure you know how to set up your tent before getting to your campsite. This will save you from many tent-related frustrations. The quicker you pitch that bad boy, the quicker you can start throwing back some beers.
Blankets/Pillow/sleeping bag: It doesn’t really get too cold in Florida, no surprise there, but when the sun sets and temperatures drop, (and the mixture of whiskey/pretzel dogs settles), you’re going to want to snuggle up! Bring your favorite pillow, blanket, or sleeping bag. You’re going to want your comforts after a long day. No one will judge your stuffed animal, Care Bear. Suggestion: Bundle Beds offers a self-contained, fully-bundled bed complete with deceptively slim but super-comfortable self-inflating mattress, built in luxury duvet and pillow, cozy bed sheets that can be stripped off and washed of the festival grime. Screw your typical sleeping bag!
Flag: The best way to make your campsite unique and easy to find at night. Flags are also a fun way to express yourself in the crowd, from Kanye signs to “Fuck Trump” signs, here is the chance to EXPRESS YO’SELF.
Fan: OMF can get a little chilly at night but the mornings can be rough in your tent when the sun starts to bake you like a potato. A battery or solar powered fan will be your best friend (one of my favorite camping supplies to date).
Earplugs: Music and campsite partying go through the night. So, if you’re a light sleeper, earplugs are a must!
Flashlight: Please do not rely on your phone as a feasible means of light on the dark/windy OMF grounds. It will probably be dead (live in the moment, hell yeah!) A LED flashlight/keychain combo will do ya just fine. Don’t forget extra batteries and a bigger lantern that can stay stationary at your campsite.
Food: What you bring for food is going to depend on if you plan on going the minimal or extravagant camping route. I’ve done both. Whichever way you go, bring a cooler (make sure to stop for ice before getting to the festival grounds. I’d even suggest getting ice outside of the town of Okeechobee. Ice tends to be a rare find in those parts during OMF). My camping experience has included living off of granola bars, PB & J or turkey sandwiches, Veggie Straws (I suggest the Ranch flavor), Cuties, and trail mix. For the campers who plan on having a nice spread, I’d suggest creating a makeshift kitchen at your site, complete with portable grills and maybe even a waffle maker. You can never go wrong with hot dogs and hamburgers, or tofu dogs and burgers if meat isn’t your thing. If you’re camping with a large group, have everyone bring something different and share in the diverse feast.
Beverages: Bring whatever your pretty little heart, or liver, desires. Top shelf whiskey is my normal drink of choice, but budget is key and PBR still gets the job done. H2O is the real MVP though. Keep in mind, OMF does have an alcohol policy. Make sure to give it the once-over.
Sunscreen: This is a no-brainer for those of us with skin so white you can basically see right through it. Sunlight has a way of transforming us from ghosts to lobsters in the time it takes to pitch a tent. But no matter your complexion, please don’t skimp on the sunscreen. Skin cancer is very real, even though you may feel invincible.
Baby wipes: This will probably be the closest thing you’ll get to a shower all weekend unless you feel like dishing out the cash for a community shower. I think I’ll stick to the baby wipes.
Dry Shampoo/Shampoo cap: Ah, compressed air in a can be a girl/guy’s bf after waking up with caked sweat/dirt/grime in your locks. Not necessarily a necessity, it is nice to have!
Deodorant: If not for yourself, slather it on for the people next to you.
Band-Aids: Having a first aid kit handy is always a good idea. Band-Aids will probably be your most used product out of it. There’s always that one clumsy person in the group who’s always getting hurt. (ME!)
Toilet paper: OMF 16’ was very good about keeping toilet paper stocked. However, having an abundance of toilet paper never hurt anybody. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Bug spray: Okee is in Florida, after all. Critters are a-crawling n’ flyin’ all over the dangin’ place.
Hand sanitizer: Perfect for when the soap dispensers run out, and they will!
Baby powder: One word… chaffing. You can also kill two birds with one stone and use it as your dry shampoo.
Clothes & Gear:
Comfortable Shoes: They say fashion is pain. I say that’s dumb. Please choose comfort over looking good. Believe it or not, you can wear comfortable shoes that also look good. No one at OMF cares what you wear. Please, for the love of the festival gods, don’t wear heels of any kind to a festival! I’ve seen it, and it never ends well.
Fanny pack: A fanny pack really is the best option. You don’t have to worry about your shoulders aching due to your cross body bag, and fanny packs free up your range of motion for when it’s dancing time.
Sunglasses/hat: The Florida sun is a scorcher. Sunglasses and/or a hat will be your ally here. Just be sure to bring sunglasses and a hat that you won’t mind losing. There’s a high possibility you’ll never see them again after the weekend’s festivities.
Clothes: It’s March in Florida, so light, loose fitting clothes will be your best bet. Please think about what will be easy to throw on in your tent and what will make your journey to the port-o-potties less of a chore. Rompers are not a good idea. Also, don’t forget your fun, nighttime costumes if you’re a raver or if you just want an excuse to wear whatever the hell you want.
Light jacket: No, I’m not a crazy, hot weather loving Floridian. Okay, maybe I am a little bit, but OMF really did get kind of cold at night last year.
Ticket/Wristband: This may seem kind of obvious, but out of all the things to forget, this has to be the worst (yes, I’ve been there too). Sure, you could wait in that dreaded line at the ticketing booth and make a fuss. But why start your weekend off stressed about the wristbands you left at home when you could just not forget them in the first place.
Hammock: Take a break from all the craziness (the good kind) that goes on at Okeechobee. Make sure to bring a hammock for ultimate relaxation. You’ll be sure to receive a few jealous glances. Suggestion: Eagles Nest Outfitters (ENO) is home to the ideal hammock for music festivals. Find your spot between a couple of trees and you’ll be lounging around listening to the music in the distance in no time.
Portable phone charger: One of the best things to happen to me at a festival was to have my phone die and not have enough battery packs to last the whole weekend. Phones can take away from the whole festival experience. If you’re one of those that MUST have their phone at all times, make sure you bring enough portable chargers to last the entire festival. There won’t be any charging stations in the camping areas.
Walkie-talkies: Festivals are notorious for not having the greatest cellphone reception. OMF is no exception! Always use the buddy system and have a meeting spot. But if you have a large group, walkie-talkies are a fantastic line of communication. If you do happen to get separated from your friends, you can always meet back at your campsite. In the meantime, go find another group to make friends with. True Okeechobeings will welcome you with open arms.
Refillable water bottle: Between the Florida heat, alcohol, drugs, dancing, and raving make sure you stay hydrated. I suggest bringing something you can attach to yourself so you don’t have to hold it. The less gear to interfere with those sick dance moves of yours, the better. Suggestion: Vapur refillable Anti-Bottles are super flexible and can be rolled, folded, and flattened to fit virtually anywhere. Even better yet, Vapur’s Microfilter bottles contain a filter that purifies up to 500 liters of safe drinking water from lakes, rivers, streams, and tap water.
Lighter: Even if you don’t smoke (tobacco or other substances), having a lighter handy is one of the best ways to make friends at a festival. You never know who may need a light.
Cash: You really don’t want to pay those insane ATM fees.
GOOD VIBES: If you forget everything else, at least make sure to bring the MOST IMPORTANT thing of all… good vibes and a can-do attitude. Okeechobeings are some of the most friendly and welcoming kind of all! Spread positivity and love, and you’ll have a great experience that you’ll remember forever.
Did I miss anything worth listing? Let us know in the comments below what you’re favorite music festival essentials are. I’m sure someone will thank you for it later.
What to Bring: Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival 2017 by Megan Malsom
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