ACL Festival – How To

I know, I know. I’m now 31 years old and should be over the music festival scene, but when it comes to live music (especially so many great bands in one location/weekend) I can’t resist! But, let’s tune out the Free People ads and Coachella recaps and be realistic, okay?

It is one month until the first day of ACL 2016! I have learned from past experiences that it’s good to be prepared for anything while jamming out to the best bands in the heat of Austin, TX. I think I was better prepared in both 2010 & 2012 because that was before “festival style” was a thing. When you’re smashed up against strangers no one is worried about what the other person is wearing anyway – everyone just wants a good view of the stage. However, I must send out a “thank you” to the girl wearing a black bra & panties under a tight ripped up orange dress with platform stripper boots for giving us a laugh! Now onto the good stuff:


In 2012 it poured on us for about 20 minutes and then let up, but I didn’t have any rain boots so my feet were soaked inside my tennis shoes. Last year there was a slight chance of rain in the forecast for Friday so I brought along my packable Hunter boots. I didn’t need them, but I’m glad I had them just in case. I’d also recommend a rain slicker or even a cheap poncho and a collapsible umbrella. If you want to roll in the mud, feel free, but you might be miserable the rest of the day. No one likes chafing, just sayin’.


This is the most important item to me. Last year was absolutely painful and ridiculous. I couldn’t walk like a normal person and my lower back was killing me from no arch support. I (stupidly) tried fitting in with the teens and 20-somethings who can stand wearing boots & gladiator sandals in 100+ degree heat. My boots started hurting so I changed into brand new sandals that gave me awful water blisters that Ben had to pop every night. Yeah, gross. And totally not worth it. I’ve learned my lesson. I’m wearing sneakers (I just bought some Nike Free RN shoes that are the most comfortable things I’ve ever put on my feet). Maybe channel the athleisure look that’s so popular now. Ha. Seriously, if you haven’t broken in your most-loved boots or sandals, DO NOT attempt wearing them from noon until 10pm for three days straight. Not gonna happen – at least not happily. Keep in mind that it’s hot & humid in Austin, even in October. Sweaty feet = blisters. Here’s a quick pic I took right before I changed into my cursed sandals. You can see where my boots rubbed against my ankles.



In the words of Baz Luhrman: “If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it.” Be sure to apply it at home before putting on clothes so you have it everywhere. And reapply throughout the day. Guess what?! You can still tan while wearing 30-50 SPF! So don’t give me any of that “I want a tan” crap because I’m not listening. If you want to look like a worn leather couch by the time you’re 50, be my guest. Also, bring a hat and wear sunglasses – extra points if they’re polarized.


There are stations with hand sanitizer outside of the port-a-potties, but if you feel you need a little extra, bring your own travel size sanitizer. Also, pack toilet paper just in case they run out. Baby wipes, baby! They are great for wiping dust off your feet & legs or cleaning the sticky off your hands after a delicious snack. Maybe pack a ziplock bag or two to collect trash if you don’t want to hike to find a trash can. Keep Texas Beautiful, y’all!


Bring a Camelbak and/or refillable water bottle. It was tremendously hot on Sunday and people were dropping like flies. The lines to the water stations were long and hoards of people were sitting under the large oak trees or under umbrellas. Unfortunately, by Sunday the water at the stations was room temperature at best. Lukewarm is probably more accurate. But, it’s water and free. If you want to have your own brand of fun with alcohol, be sure to drink plenty of water, too.


It’s always good to have band-aids, aspirin, allergy meds, tums, neosporin, gauze, medical tape & sunscreen. I used all my band-aids last year on my poor feet.


If you plan to use the ACL Festival app on your phone, you’ll need to keep it charged. Or you can make a temporary tattoo out of the lineup if you’re the creative type. Bring along your portable phone charger and plug in your phone while not using it. Remember that once it gets super crowded, there’s no use trying to text friends to meet up. You will have no service, I promise. Have a meeting place and time(s) if your group splits up or bring a 12′ pole with a flag/sign on top for your friends to find you. These are some funny ones we saw last year. You’re welcome.





Even though there are amazing (and expensive) food & drink choices at the food court, the lines can get super long. Or maybe you’re waiting to watch your favorite band and don’t want to lose your spot. Granola/protein bars, crackers or dried fruit are great options for easy-to-pack food. But they don’t technically allow outside food so we hide it inside our bags. You can also bring in two factory sealed water bottles. If you’re daring enough to try it, here’s a secret.


I’m not going to act like I don’t care how I look or feel while melting in the heat. If you’re brave enough to forego makeup altogether, brava to you! But if you’re vain like me, you’ll want to wear something to feel human. I plan to wear moisturizer (with SPF), minimal foundation (if any), mascara and tinted lip balm. I’ll also pack oil absorbing sheets to help tame the shine. Be sure to pack extra hair ties, bobby pins, deodorant, cinnamon gum (freshens breath better than mint), floss picks, chapstick and brush/comb.


You’ll want to put all of your goodies in something practical like a backpack or cross-body bag. I carried a purse I got in El Salvador and got a couple of comments about it. One guy even chased after me to ask if I was from El Salvador! It was nice to have a small bag, but I think I’ll bring a real backpack this time. Especially if it’s fun.


The REAL reason I wrote this post; the REAL reason we put ourselves through the misery of heat stroke, blisters & back pain: to see the fabulous bands we love. Planning ahead means more fun times! Enjoy!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s