Doing Festival Season Solo? Here's What You Need to Know
In addition to going to the pool and the beach, attending festivals is a popular summer activity. For many, festivals are a group activity, but there are benefits to attending alone. If you're attending a festival solo, however, remember a few important things to ensure you stay safe and have a great time.
Why would you want to go to a festival alone?
Bella Silberfein, the producer of Bhakti Fest, a yoga and spiritual music festival, describes attending a festival solo as a life-changing experience.
"It allows space to open yourself up fully in the moment and create new, meaningful connections," she said. "You may arrive alone, but you're guaranteed to leave with new friends. And aside from that, the feeling of independence and the ability to see anything on the lineup that your heart desires is the best."
How can you get ready for a festival as a solo traveler?
Traveling in a group makes it easy to borrow something from a friend. When you head to a festival solo, you're on your own until you begin to meet people.
Here are a few tips to help you stay safe solo.
Prepare ahead of time
When you attend a festival alone, all the prep work lies on you. So be sure to do your research to set yourself up for success.
"Check the weather to make sure you pack appropriately, and bring plenty of water and snacks," Silberfein said.
She suggests checking the festival's website or Facebook page, which may recommend where to stay in the area. Once you're ready to hit the road (or plane if you're flying to the festival), it's wise to share your location with close friends and family members so they know where you're heading.
Drink lots of water
Drinking water is essential during the summertime, especially if you're exposed to the sun and dancing for long stretches.
"You will likely be easily dehydrated, especially on a hot day of fun," said Melissa Mondala, M.D., a physician specializing in family medicine, lifestyle medicine and primary care psychiatry in Newport Beach, California.
Bring a water bottle to the festival and find the water stations as soon as you arrive so you know where you can refill throughout the day, Mondala recommended. And if you plan to consume alcohol, drink even more water or ask the bartender for sparkling water or soda with a lemon to make it look like you're having a festive drink.
Dehydration is more common than you think.
Practice safe drinking
Rule number one regarding attending festivals alone: "Don't accept drinks or substances from other people, or come prepared with a drug testing kit," Silberfein said. "[It's] always best to be as prepared and safe as possible."
"Only take drinks directly from the bartender and not any drinks lying around or offered to you," Mondala said. "There is a higher chance of mixed drinks being spiked with dangerous recreational drugs that [may affect] your physical health or mental health."
In other words, be extra cautious when drinking alcohol. Never leave your drink unattended.
Practice safer sex
If engaging in casual sex is on the agenda for your solo festival adventure, Mondala emphasized the importance of always using condoms for protection. And get tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) before the event or whenever changing partners.
"Also, don't underestimate your voice," she said. "If you are in an uncomfortable situation, just say no or call security to report any unsafe or threatening behaviors."
Use sun protection
"Sunscreen with zinc oxide and both UVA and UVB coverage is important to minimize risk for sunburn, inflammation, hyperpigmentation, and skin damage that can lead to aging and cancer," Mondala said.
Apply sunscreen of at least SPF 30—50, preferably—before you get to the event and every two hours after that. Pro tip: As a rule of thumb, Mondala recommended applying at least a teaspoon of sunscreen to each exposed body part and two teaspoons on each leg.
Wear long, loose clothing and a large-brimmed hat for added protection, Mondala said.
In between all the fun, carve out some time to take care of your body and rest, Silberfein recommended. What does that look like? For starters, Mondala suggested resting in the days leading up to the festival to ensure you feel energized once you arrive. Also, don't forget to eat.
"Schedule time to eat, because a whole day of enjoyment can go by, and then all the food vendors could close," Mondala said.
Try not to stress about factors beyond your control, such as a rainy or cold event.
"Remember, everything will work out, and you're going to end up having such an amazing and memorable time," Silberfein said.
Connect with others
Last, don't forget that connecting with others is what attending a festival solo is all about. Silberfein said Facebook is a great place to find and connect with people who are also attending the festival alone and looking for a hangout buddy. You're sure to make plenty of festival friends.
"Other than that, festivals are so often communities filled with heart-centered individuals, and you'll find that your people just gravitate to you without you having to worry too much about it," Silberfein said. "Just remember to lean into the experience and keep your heart open."
The bottom line
Go outside your comfort zone. Meet new people, explore the festival grounds and take the time to connect with others.
With that advice in mind and the safety precautions listed above, you're all set to have the best time during your next solo festival adventure.