Coachella on a Budget Tips

Coachella on a Budget Tips

Coachella is the music and arts festival held in Indio, USA, over 2 weekends every April.  It’s a mix of the creative, artsy, wonderful and downright weird.  There’s music to suit every taste, huge art displays, none stop sun and food stands serving up delicious food, it’s hard to ignore the lure of Coachella.  However, being a budget backpacker, it’s hard to take no notice of how notoriously expensive Coachella is.  It’s not often you hear the sentence ‘Coachella on a budget’.

Coachella on a budget, can you really do it? In short, the answer is yes.  While your budget may not be as low as a mere 25 USD a day, as in some corners of the world, you can still visit Coachella for a lot less than most.  Coachella’s reputation holds it as being a classy, upmarket and costly festival, but don’t let that put you off. 

I managed to fit a budget Coachella trip in between my travels to Australia and Mexico.  The following ‘Coachella on a budget’ tips will show you that you don’t have to take out a loan or max out the credit card to be able to afford a trip to Coachella.

Picture of the artwork at coachella, for coachella on a budget tips

Artwork at Coachella

More coachella artwork, for coachella on a budget tips

More Coachella Artwork

Bring Food for Meals

Food at Coachella is expensive.  When I say expensive, I mean in the region of 12 USD for a portion of loaded fries.  If you’re only eating the food for sale from the stalls at the festival, you will spend a fortune.

My first Coachella budget tip is to bring plenty of food to the festival.  By bringing food to the festival, I don’t mean stocking up on chocolate, crisps and jars of Tostitos cheese dip (make sure you try this if you’ve never had it before!!)  I mean bringing substantial food which will keep you going throughout the day.  Obviously, you won’t be able to roast a full chicken at the festival.   I’m suggesting more along the lines of; granola bars, jerky, fruit, bread and sandwich spreads and maybe the odd packets of crisps and dip.

Stay Hydrated

Don’t forget, you’re going to be out in 30 odd degrees desert heat.  One thing you don’t want to do is spend the day drinking alcohol and avoid your good friend, water.  Water will be your best defence against the intense desert sun.

Where does staying hydrated come into budget tips for Coachella I hear you ask.  Well, by ensuring you are hydrated before entering the festival for the day and also being prepared for inside the festival you will save money.  Buying water at the festival will ensure you will be unnecessarily eating away at your budget.  Who wants to buy small bottles of water for 2 USD a pop?  You can bring your own water bottle and fill it up at one of the many filtered water fill up points around the festival grounds.  Ensure the water bottle is nonmetal.

Bring Plenty of Alcohol

Coachella guidelines allow you to bring in one case or beer of wine per person into the camping area.  Prior to my visit to Coachella, I didn’t know how strict they would be on the alcohol policy.  I heard rumours that upon arrival to the festival grounds, everyone’s car is ransacked.  However, we decided to risk it and bring more than the allowance with us.  What a great decision that turned out to be.  Security hardly checked our car on arrival and no one else’s around us.  To be sure, transfer spirits into a water bottle (they seem to be pretty strict on no glass) and hide them in your bags.

For sure, if you bring more alcohol than the allowance you will save a hell of a lot of money that you will otherwise be spending on 12 USD beers at the bars.

Don’t Think You Need to Stay in Once You’re In

The festival opens at 11 am and stays open until late at night/early hours of the morning.  I’m sure you can imagine how much money you would spend on food/drink if you were to stay in the festival all day from 11 am.  The majority of people do tend to enter the festival around 2-3pm.  However, whenever you do enter, remember, you can leave and re-enter the festival as many times you want during one day.  If you have food/drink at your campsite, why not go back for an hour or so, recharge and top up on your food and drink.

Car Camp & Set Up a Good Base

Car camping may sound like a pricier option than the shuttle bus.  However, in the long run, car camping will actually result in you saving yourself some cash.  First things first, car camping will enable you to bring lots more food and booze than if you were catching the shuttle bus.  As well as more food and booze, you will be able to set up a camping base where you will happily relax during the time you’re not in the festival and avoiding the beaming sun and in turn, you won’t hesitate about returning for an hour to top up on food and booze.

As well as the previous, we drove from LA and we spent a total of 50 USD on petrol, so it’s not really all that expensive, is it?

Preparation is Key

Remember, above all, preparation is key.  Wrapping up all of the above ‘Coachella on a budget’ tips into one, if you prepare, you will save money.  Coachella can be done on a budget.  All it takes in order to not send your spending through the roof is preparation.  When I say preparation, I mean; bringing food and alcohol with you,  bringing all the equipment you need and above all, having a budget in mind and knowing your limits when it comes to spending.


Just because you’re going to Coachella and not spending your money on everything under the sun, you can still have the time of your life.  I did and you can too.  Just by following the above Coachella on a budget tips, you can keep the spending to a minimum on your weekend at the magical Coachella.  Trust me, when you’ve been, you will see what all the fuss is about.

For more information and destinations in USA Click Here.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask me in the comments section.

Are you planning a trip to Coachella? Do you think it can be done on a budget by following these Coachella on a budget tips? Do you have any other Coachella on a budget tips?

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