First Timer’s Guide To Coachella

First Timer's Guide To CoachellaI finally decided to sit down and type up this long overdue, First Timer’s Guide To Coachella post. Besides just not having the time to get to it, I was reluctant to do any posts on my trip, because of how little content I actually captured. So before I get into this post, I would like to be very clear and say I know that my images aren’t great, I could have done better in terms of getting better content. But I was so busy having fun and just taking in the experience; I forgot that I had a camera on me.  If you are too lazy to read all my wordy tips, feel free to watch my Coachella for first timers video here

Tip 1: Buying Tickets

In 2017, an acquaintance of mine told me a horror story about how he planned a trip to Coachella to perfection with his girlfriend and long story short, when they got to Coachella they were told that their tickets were fake. And with that little anecdote as my segue, here is tip number 1…

Only buy tickets from the official Coachella website. Don’t buy tickets on any other sites like Viagogo, which is an online ticket marketplace for ticket resale or from some other person you don’t know. Besides the possibility of them being fake, some of these tickets are being resold at a higher price than the actual festival ticket price. I repeat only buy tickets from the Coachella official website. When it comes to tickets that are not bought directly from the Coachella website, Coachella has this to say…

“Only passes originally purchased through Coachella’s official ticketing partner can be guaranteed as valid. Do not buy passes from a 3rd party or scalper. We will not offer customer service, authentication or support for any passes purchased through any 3rd parties. You will only know that your third party pass is valid when it successfully scans into the venue each day. Activating a wristband does not guarantee the wristband is or will remain valid for all three days. Scalped passes are subject to cancellation at any time without warning.”

However, this does not mean that your friend / partner etc can’t buy your Coachella ticket for you. Just make sure that the ticket purchaser will be collecting the tickets at Will Call or at the hotel – if you purchased a Travel Package.

*You can transfer tickets, but at a cost…

Tip 2: First time? Use the Travel Package option

The “only buy from the official Coachella website” rule also applies to the Travel Packages. Which I recommend you book if you are travelling from outside of the US or if you are attending Coachella for the first time. These travel packages can be booked from Valley Music Travel (the official company that Coachella uses to provide a full range of services like the travel packages etc) and are convenient because:

  1. You won’t have to worry about collecting your ticket from Will Call as your ticket/s will be handed to you when you check in, in a pretty box with other cool stuff in it.
  2. You will be staying at a hotel, so you won’t have to worry about making your bed and who is going to make you a Bloody Mary when you are hungover.
  3. These Travel Packages generally include shuttles to and from the festival. Super handy, because I think Ubers are uber expensive over that time and finding parking at the festival seems like the most exhausting thing ever.

For the 2017 festival we booked our tickets as part of a Travel Package at Riveria Palm Springs. A really lovely hotel, with an interesting art deco vibe about it. Gutted I didn’t take any photos there. In any case, one of my absolute favourite days, was when we all decided to hang out at the pool, drinking, whilst a DJ was playing before we missioned to the festival. That day is also why there are no day 2 outfit pictures, as way too much fun was had on day 2 at the pool. 

Tip 3: Get your tickets couriered to South Africa or wherever you are in the world

If you don’t purchase a travel package where your tickets will be given to you at the hotel, make sure to get your tickets couriered to you. I made the rookie mistake of missing the deadline to put in that request and ended up having to collect some tickets I had bought at Will Call. It was horrible to say the least.

Tip 4: Getting There…

As part of their offering Valley Music Travel also provides shuttle services from LAX to Palm Springs and the festival. You can book these shuttles via the Coachella website by simply clicking on Trip Planning, scroll down to Hotel Travel Packages and Shuttles and select Shuttles. This will open the Valley Music Travel page where you can select one of the various shuttle options from the LAX shuttle to the shuttles that run in between different hotels and the festival.

LAX or direct to Palm Springs?

Someone  Instagram DMed me to ask whether you can fly directly to Palm Springs from LA or South Africa? To be honest, I never thought of that at all… In any case, the answer to that is “yes”, but it’s expensive, especially if you want to fly direct. A return direct flight from LAX to Palm Springs over the Coachella weekend 1 is around R14K. (If you search for flights any other time, they come in at around half the price.) Flying from South Africa direct to Palm Springs is also possible. However,  the flights are super long and the airlines doing that route exclude Emirates, which is my preferred airline for long haul flights with layovers so I can earn Sky Rewards.

Tip 5: Get there before Friday

Due to how insane all our schedules were, my friends and I flew into LA on the Thursday night and then made our way to Palm Springs on Friday morning. This seemed like a good plan, however we didn’t realise that the traffic would actually be as bad as people said it would be. We left LAX at 12:00 and got to Palm Springs at 15:30. I missed Sampha and was miserable for the rest of the day. Even a double gin & tonic couldn’t get me out of my slump. It was awful. Get there on Thursday night so you can wake up in Palm Springs / Palm Desert and only have your outfit to worry about.

Tip 6: It’s A Music Festival

In my preamble, I spoke about how I forgot I had a camera on me, which is why I don’t have great images to share. And that, folks, is because Coachella is a music festival! This means, that whilst being cute seems like the most NB thing to your favourite bloggers, supermodels and vloggers; being comfortable is what I would suggest you aim for if you are there for the music. Because if you are there for the music you’ll walk. You’ll walk a lot. From stage to stage, to food stalls, to beer gardens, to shuttles. You walk. To hear  and see Bon Iver, Kendrick, The XX, Hans Zimmer, you name it, you will walk. And you will dance… And do all the things you do at other festivals.

Tip 7: You probably won’t get wasted…

Coachella is an all ages festival, which means that drinking is restricted to certain areas like the beer gardens. To access these beer garden areas you need to be over the legal drinking age and you must have a wristband to enter the area. These wristbands are handed out everyday and are different everyday, so make sure to carry some form of identification on all 3 days because you need to get “accredited” everyday to go into the beer garden area. Your tag from the previous day won’t suffice. I said the word everyday way too many times in that sentence, which must mean it’s grammatically incorrect. Oh well… *shrugs shoulders.

Tip 8: Subscribe the Coachella newsletter

Subscribe to the Coachella newsletter so you get notifications on things like Advance ticket sales, which go live June, when tickets are going live or will be going live.

Tip 9: VIP vs GA

I am going to Coachella next year again for Weekend 1 this time and opted to buy a GA ticket again for the following reasons:

  1. Everyone (even the VIPers) eventually end up with the GAers when the music is good. The GA Festival Pass is $429 and with a shuttle you pay $504…
  2. To have access to extra toilets, seating and cash bars,  paying almost almost double the price ($999) of a GA ticket seems excessive, especially when I consider all the other costs  incurred getting to Coachella.

But each to his own.

Tip 10: Eat at Coachella

The food is so good. Try find the Jerk chicken spot and have, the Jerk chicken and the Jerk chicken tacos. My goodness, you will be a happy person afterwards. I won’t lie, some of the grub is over priced, but the food is good I didn’t regret parting with my coins.

Thithi Nteta
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