Poor College Kid's Guide to Bonnaroo

While an amazing experience that everyone should try at least once, it’s no secret the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival is a giant money pit. Worth it, but still. After going as a poor college kid for three consecutive years, I’ve established a game-plan for enjoying the festival without going broke. Hopefully, this guide will help, and feel free to share your own money saving tips.

1. Getting there

My drive is about 10 hours through middle of nowhere towns. They are scenic, but also expensive gas-wise. If you can, try to get gas in more populated areas where there is more competition between stations.

2. Food

Invest in the cheap shit. This is Tennessee in the middle of the summer, so try to avoid salty snacks that will dehydrate you. I try to grab goldfish, a few boxes of breakfast bars, and plenty of fruit snacks. Plan out your meals ahead of time. I always try to bring cereal and boxed almond milk, not regular milk. The boxed milk will not go bad over the four day festival. Ice is expensive, so freeze water bottles and use those in coolers. Peanut butter and Jelly is classic. Fruit is a also good idea, but keep in mind which ones will last in the hot summer sun.

Most of the acts people want to see are back-to-back in the evening. Make sure you have a large amount of snack foods, so you aren’t forced to buy dinner in Centeroo.  

3. Staying clean

Bonnaroo has showers near the campsites, but they cost $7 each time and lines can get long during prime showering times. Walmart has a showering bag with a hose in the Outdoor section which can be attached to a car relatively easily. Otherwise, a large bucket works. Just fill up a water bottle with bucket water and it almost feels like your showering under a waterfall. Invest in wet wipes. I didn’t my first year, but after bringing them a second time, I am never going without.

4. Alternatives

While Bonnaroo does not permit illegal substances, they do get in.

If you want to bring your own, be advised that cops are sitting along highways on the way to Bonnaroo. Every year, I see someone standing on the side of the road while cops are searching their car. Bonnaroo staff also check cars on the way in. They open trunks, coolers and glove boxes. People do sell things inside Bonnaroo, but prices may be hiked and you never know what you pay for. Bonnaroovians are friendly people, so there’s a good chance you will be included in a sharing circles of some sort. Either way, be wary and make wise choices.

5. Souvenirs

Before buying, ask yourself if it will matter a year from now. There are tons of shops with all sorts of trinkets and baubles. Keeping the memory of Bonnaroo alive with an object is natural, but you don’t need to buy unwearable plain shoes.

6. Clothing

For those of us who try to look decent occasionally, the temptation to bring every summer outfit to the festival is a struggle. Remember, this is Tennessee. In the middle of summer. Grime is just another element of Bonnaroo. If you would get upset that your newly bought dress/hat/t-shirt got mud on it, don’t bring it.   

Good luck, and peace to the piggy bank.

Hey guys, an updated bonnaroo checklist. Clearly for a girl. I’ve been getting a lot of messages saying my list has been helping first timers out, which makes me so glad!!! So I’m gonna keep posting my list as I add to it and whatever tips I think might be helpful. And yes, I’m bringing a battery powered straightner, I have no shame. My advice to girls is you want to look cute but at the end of the day, no one gives a flying fuck and everyone is a hot mess and we all love eachother anyways. So put some effort in, but please don’t actually worry about it. Also please put comfort before fashion. You’re going to look like an idiot if you look uncomfortable, no matter how cute your maxi dress and strappy sandals are. Put a bandana in your hair and wear a bikini and some damn walking shoes. Just do it.

Beat the Heat at Bonnaroo

Bonnaroo 2014 is coming up quick! In order to maximize your experience at this iconic festival you need to protect yourself from the elements, most importantly the heat which Bonnaroo has become notorious for. With these tips you can stay cool during the day & be ready to rage into the early morning—then do it all over again!

At the campsite:

  • Each car in your group should bring one ez up canopy to create a common hangout for the group and to shield the sun during the day.
  • Bring a chair for the area and nap under the shade in the early morning when your tent is too hot.
  • Hang tapestries or sheets from the canopy to keep your space even cooler & give it a personalized touch.
  • Prior to leaving for the festival freeze a case of water for your cooler, it can work as ice and also keep you hydrated in the morning.
  • Stop at a fruit stand on the way down and get some fresh local produce to have as a snack and for breakfast, skip the breakfast burrito and coffee (the person using the porta potty after you will thank you).
  • Replenish your ice each day! Each camping pod has a general store where you can buy ice each morning, take advantage and split the cost by taking turns buying it with people in your croo.
  • Before going into the festival for the day put a t-shirt or bandana in the cooler. It will keep you cool on your way into Centeroo especially if there’s a line (which does happen during peak hours).
  • Invest in battery powered fans for your tent, switch them on before you sleep so you don’t wake up in a sweaty panic.
  • Keep a window flap open while you’re at your camp to keep air circulating throughout the tent.
  • Set up a tarp under where you’re going to put your tent to keep ground heat from rising up into your tent. Also hang another tarp over your tent attached to cars or the canopies to act as a reflector.

In Centeroo:

  • STAY HYDRATED! Bring a canteen or camelback and take advantage of the FREE water refill station around the festival. Refill stations are also great meet up spots for groups!
  • Don’t run yourself down. Take some time to sit under a tree, one of the air conditioned lounges or find a tent with a spray mister in the back of the main stage! Your body will thank you when you make it to that 2 am superjam and dance your ass off. 
  • Take advantage of the vendors! There are smoothies, fruit, and all sorts of cool treats for you to indulge in.
  • Buy a wristband for unlimited waterslide rides during the weekend- because blow up adult waterslide, duh. 
  • Run through the fountain for a quick cool-down or shower in it with travel shampoos and all (seriously, both are totally acceptable). Just have a friend hold your stuff & take turns! 
Watch on

Sharon Van Etten - Love More (Live at Bonnaroo 2011)

The lines were ridiculous to get into Centeroo on Friday of this year and while I missed her first two songs because of that, the rest of her set, including this song, gave me constant chills in the 90 degree heat.

Also - REVERB!