Festival camping kind of sucks. It’s cramped, it’s noisy, it’s dirty, and if it’s rainy weather then God help you if you’ve pitched under a tree. But there are plenty of things you can do to make your life easier, quieter, and legit fresher. Today, I want to take you through a few of the tips and tricks I’ve learned that will hurl your life out of Fuji Rock festival camping hell, and into some kind of serenity.
I’ll break this post up into two parts. The first is a list of festival camping tips. So it doesn’t matter if you’re doing Splendour or Glastonbury, you’re sure to find something useful! The second part will delve a bit deeper into camping at Fuji Rock. Let’s get stuck in!
HOW TO BE A FESTIVAL CAMPING PRO
- Preparation is key. This might bore the crap out of some of you, and go against your spontaneous hipster whim, but you will save yourself a lot of grief if you think ahead and organise all your gear well ahead of time.
- Get a decent tent. Doesn’t have to be fancy, but it should have some key things: a waterproof base, a waterproof shell, and enough air vents so you don’t die from heat (or drown in gross condensation). Hop onto places like Gumtree, ebay and Amazon for cheap options.
- Get a decent sleeping bag. If you’re camping during winter, then buy one that’s seriously warm. And if it’s a summer festival… then still get one that’s seriously warm! Summer nights bring an unusual chill, and waking up from shivering at 3am is the pits.
- Look after your back. Just because you’re camping, doesn’t mean you have to slum it. Camping grounds are notoriously hard, rocky, rough and chunky. A simple sleeping mat will help give you more than just a couple hours sleep, but I reckon you should go the whole hog and get an air mattress. They’re light enough and certainly cheap enough from Gumtree or Target.
- Get yourself some basic blockers. Ear plugs and a sleeping mask will help block out the 24hour music, and the 5am sun.
- Bring disposable everything. It may not be eco-friendly, but… well I don’t really have a defence for this one. It’s more about making your life easier when you leave. Towels, garbage bags, travel toiletries, cups, plates… you’ll be bringing a decent amount of gear with you, so being able to dump half of it when you leave is a small personal blessing.
- Bring a change of clothes for every day. You may think “Oh yeah, it’s all gunna be dirty and gross by day three anyway, who cares?” but really… everyone cares. You don’t HAVE to stink. You don’t HAVE to make people wonder what died when they walk past you. And you don’t HAVE to feel like a walking garbage dump by day three!
- Bring baby wipes. A pack of these will easily get you through loads of gross situations. Wipe your face and your body, wipe up beer spills, wipe off the grime from your esky.
- Bring enough food to get your through. Most festivals will allow you to bring food. Maybe they’ll even allow a small stove to cook up some tea and beans! Know the rules before you go in regards to that stuff though, and even if you can’t bring a stove, you should be able to bring enough packaged and fresh food to get you through. Bring an esky and find some ice, and you’ll have cold brews waiting for you at camp no matter the hour.
- Bring something to sit on. A small tarp or blanket will do, but feel free to whip out the folded chairs. You won’t want to be sitting in your tent to relax all the time! Getting out and getting social with your neighbours can be half the fun.
- Accept your fate: camping is camping. I think this is super important to keep in mind. Camping at a festival comes with some challenges in regards to noise, and things can get dirty and dusty quickly. Accept that this will be your fate for however many days you’re there, and just roll with the punches. It’s not a hotel, it’s not ‘glamping’, it’s basic but it can be a lot of fun.
You will need to purchase one of the camping tickets along with your festival entrance ticket to gain access to the camping area. There’s the Moon Caravan camping, and the regular camping area. I’ve only ever camped in the regular camping area.
- Don’t camp under trees, or on a slope. Avoiding trees is fairly easy, unless you arrive on Saturday or Sunday when free space is rare. When it rains (and it will) those heavy raindrops on your tent will keep you awake all night long. Now, avoiding the slope is more challenging – this is a ski resort for a reason! But there are flat patches, and less inclined areas, so unless you want to be sliding down the inside of your tent at 2am, pick a decent spot.
- Ladies: camp in the ‘female only’ area. Maybe this is a bit ridiculous, or sexist, or maybe it’s just one of those things you sigh at while saying “oh, Japan…” but if you’re a solo female traveller, or with a group of girlfriends, it’s one of the best spots to be. It’s closer to the food and showers, and it’s safe.
- Be safe, but not too concerned. Japan is a safe country, generally speaking. People are unlikely to pick-pocket or raid your tent while you’re not there. But if you’re worried, then bring a lock and keep your tent secured during the day. But… I’ve never done this, and never had a problem!
- Take advantage of the free showers. They’re open 24 hours a day! But be warned, they are extremely humid, and busy from 7am onwards, so the second the sun wakes you up, you should go and shower. Alternatively, shower at night, and it won’t be as busy or hot inside the shower tents. OH, and wear thongs!!
- Give the onsen a crack, early. The onsite onsen is a dream come true, and is open most hours. But it will get busy early in the morning, and wait times (especially for women…) can be well over an hour. Again, try going at night instead to beat the lines. BONUS: there’s massage chairs inside the onsen facilities, so bring some extra yen to have a go!
- Start your day off with coffee and doughnuts. Down by the showers, you’ll see a few food stalls. These are almost always busy, so wait times can be long. But man, it is such a great way to kick off you day if you’re patient!
- Bring booze! Drinks at festivals are expensive, so bring your own and get your drink on at your tent before you head in.
- The port-a-loo’s are actually great. They’re regularly cleaned and cared for, and there’s heaps of them. On the table in front of the toilets, there’s a disinfectant spray for your hands, so don’t forget to use it!
- Once Friday rolls around, it is non-stop noise. One of the reasons you gotta get some ear plugs is because the campsite is located close to the Rookie-A-Go-Go area, where music doesn’t stop playing all night, or during the day. You absolutely cannot escape the music once it starts, so do yourself a favour and bring your plugs.
- You can dump everything your brought with you on Monday. Recycling should be adhered to the best you can, but if you’re not keen on bringing your tent or your belongings back to Tokyo with you, then dump the lot in the giant skip before you leave. But please, don’t just leave your tent or your rubbish at the campsite. It’s unfair to the workers, and a big cultural no-no.
- Get to the shuttle bus ASAP! I mentioned this briefly in my previous blog post, but on Monday morning when everyone is exhausted, sweaty and basically the walking dead, you should try and pack up your tent when the sun is rising, and get the shuttle bus back to the station as soon as you can. Standing in a massive line with heavy bags, in the already boiling morning sun, sucks. It’s like the worst way to end what would have been an amazing long weekend. The sooner you line up, the easier your day will be.
I really hope this “Part 2” post about dealing with festival shenanigans helps to ease some of your nerves, and you’re getting super pumped for Fuji Rock! And even if you’re off to another winter or summer festival, these tips are sure to add value to your awesome camping adventure.
To read Part 1 all about how to navigate the Fuji Rock Festival like a pro, click here.