The Coachella 2016 Series: Car Camping

So you’ve bought your ticket to Coachella and you’re super stoked to go in approximately a year, but you have NO idea where you’re staying. A hotel will probably cost $200-$300 a night, plus the fare of a shuttle pass, or you could spend a whopping $99 to car camp four 3 nights. I would take the latter, and I did.

Financially, car camping is actually a great deal. It is when you drive your car with all your camping junk and doodads to the camping grounds and park in a 10×30 space. Sounds small, right? It actually isn’t that bad. You most definitely can fit four people in a seemingly small space, as we did below:


The logistics of car camping are quite simple. four days (if you arrive to the grounds Thursday) and three to four nights. This small space is your home. Here is how we took advantage of it:

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 8.38.50 AM
Each square on the grid is one square foot. There is room for more than enough stuff you decide to bring in the middle of the canopy. Luggage can stay inside the car when you’re not looking for your outfits. You can also leave items in the tent when you’re on the festival grounds and just lock it up. We used a TSA approved padlock to keep our belongings safe.

Car camping was definitely an experience in itself. There are porta potties (Definitely use these in the morning since that’s when they clean them), community showers, the sun comes up at 6 am every morning, and the music doesn’t stop until about 2:30 am.

Since I was a car camping virgin before Coachella, I really didn’t know what I needed to bring that would make the experience a little more tolerable. Knowing what I know now, there are a few things I would definitely bring to make the car camping experience a little more fun. It technically is a weekend-long tailgate, after all.



Car Camping Checklist

  • Two canopies
    You will want to bring 2, or at least some kind of tapestry to block the sun from hitting your tent at 6 o’clock in the morning. The sun will wake you up and heat up the tent, making your already sleepless night more sleepless. If you do opt for two canopies, make sure one will go over your car. The other one can be shorter to go over the tent.
  • Plastic stakes (metal ones if you can sneak those in)
    Plastic stakes are the only ones technically allowed in the camping grounds. Somehow we managed to have both. When it is windy, you’ll be thankful you had those. Make sure you bring a mallet to get them into the ground, though!
  • Tapestries
    Tapestries are amazing to hang up. They block the sun, giving you and your campsite shade, and they are absolutely Coachella! I got mine from Urban Outfitters for $20 (it was on sale).
  • Lights
    It gets pretty dark at night, and although we had a string of battery-powered lights and a battery-powered lantern, I still would have brought a little more. Make sure you bring spare batteries! Flashlights are also extremely useful if you don’t want to use your phone.
  • Speakers
    Like I mentioned before, Coachella car camping is like a weekend-long tailgate. At tailgates, people tend to blast their music from their site. Listening to other people’s music is great, but it is also nice to listen to your own to get pumped up for the festival. I recommend these are battery-powered, as well.
  • A plastic tarp or towels
    This is for the sake of camping. The ground can be cold and wet. Having some kind of layer in between your body and the grass is just nice, but not necessary. We used two round towels.
  • Battery packs to charge phones
  • Chairs
  • Tables
  • Duct tape + zip ties
    Surprisingly, the duct tape came in handy when we were trying to keep our tapestries from blowing to our neighbors side. Zip ties were also useful for hanging up the items we didn’t want to duct tape. Make sure you bring scissors.
  • Sleeping bags + cushioned mats + blankets + pillows
  • Coolers + Ice
  • Two packages of water
    We had brought four large packages of water and only used about one and a half. We had other drinks like beer and Gatorade.
  • Food + snacks
  • Flushable wipes + toilette paper
    These definitely came in handy when you’re wiping the dirt and dust off your skin before bed. The toilette paper is self-explanitory.
  • Towels for showering
  • Earplugs
    For the snorers and the music blasting at the dome.

All of these items made camping a little bit easier for me. Some of these items, like the extra canopy and tapestries, would have been the icing on the cake, but there is always next year!


Good luck to anyone who decides to car camp for Coachella, and I hope this guide made it a bit easier to do so. If you have any camping tips, feel free to share them below!

Until then,


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