Have you been looking forward to spending your summer at all the hottest music festivals?
While summer festivals have their own unique personalities, they also have one thing in common: attendance doesn’t come cheap.
For some festivals, you may see ticket prices range from $400 to $1,700, and that’s just what you’ll pay for admission. You also have to factor in expenses like food, travel, and lodging. It’s easy to get phased by the final price tag if you’re hoping to survive a festival season on a budget.
The good news is, you can! Survive festival season on a budget by looking for low-cost options for travel, accommodations, and food. Check out these ways to enjoy the festival season on a budget without emptying your wallet.
1. Forgo the hotel
A hotel may be your travel go-to, but rates can skyrocket during the dates of a summer fest. According to a MONEY magazine article, the cost of a hotel in Chicago during one of its biggest summer music festivals is 55 percent higher than average. Hotels near Grant Park, where the festival takes place, charge rates that are 77 percent higher than the average monthly rate.
If you’re canceling your hotel plans, on-site camping may be a way to enjoy the festival season on a budget. General admission camping is included in the ticket price for some festivals, and you can typically pay a fee if you’re bringing a vehicle along. While camping can bring serious cost savings by skipping a hotel rate, you also won’t have to dish out for daily transportation to get to and from the venue.
If camping isn’t an option, a home exchange is another way to survive festival season on a budget. For a membership fee, you can list your home on a home exchange website and connect with other homeowners who are interested in swapping homes temporarily.
“Travelers can benefit from completely free accommodations around the world without any money changing hands,” says Alexandra Origet du Cluzeau, global PR director for HomeExchange in an article with Discover.com, one such home exchange service. “You’re free to choose additional services, like insurance, but the roof under which you’ll be staying won’t cost you a dime.”
If you’re not comfortable having a stranger stay in your home, booking a vacation home rental is another way to save money at festivals. Yarbrough says a way to enjoy the festival season on a budget is to go in on a vacation rental with friends.
“Getting a large vacation rental and sharing with four to eight friends will be much more comfortable than a cheap hotel,” Yarbrough says, “and give you the best bang for your buck.”
2. Don’t buy festival food
Along with a list of lit performers and parties, summer festivals also tend to offer an impressive food menu. From gourmet food trucks to pop-up restaurants, to luxurious restaurants, there’s something to satisfy virtually every taste. If your goal is to survive festival season on a budget, however, you may have to curb your appetite.
Bringing plenty of nonperishable foods, snacks, and water is a great way to save money at festivals, assuming the festival allows that. Some say no to outside food and beverage, while others may allow you to bring food, drinks, and even portable camping grills. Before you try to survive festival season on a budget by packing your own cooler, check the festival rules. If you’re staying off-site, eat plenty before you go to cut back on overpriced grub from a festival vendor.
If you’re camping, cooking your own food and carrying snacks are two smart ways to save money at festivals.
Again, if permitted, snacking on freeze-dried foods to keep dining costs down is a great cost-cutter as well.
3. Look for flight and festival prices as soon as you can
Purchasing plane tickets in advance can work in your favor if you already have money set aside for your summer festival plans and you’re committed to going.
Purchasing festival tickets at the presale price can save you up to 75 percent of the full ticket price. However, in order to realize these cost savings, you may need to lock in tickets six months to a year before the event.
Stay on top of presale events by subscribing to your favorite festival’s social media account or entertainment blogs to get notifications when early bird tickets go up for grabs. If you missed the presale boat, don’t think you’re out of ways to save money at festivals.
You can even sometimes find people selling their tickets last minute for a rock bottom price on social media. However, it’s not guaranteed so you may not be able to secure a ticket or end up paying even more than the original ticket price for waiting longer.
Finding ways to save money at festivals takes planning and, sometimes, lots of creativity. Creating a simple budget early gives you time to allocate your money wisely and evaluate where you can splurge and where you may need to skimp. If all else fails, consider volunteering your way into the festival of your choice as a way to enjoy the festival season on a budget.
Some organizations visit festivals throughout the year with volunteers in tow. While you may not get to see the entire show when your favorite artist is performing, it’s possible to enjoy the festival without paying a fee in exchange for a few hours of your time. You can also check with individual festivals to see if they offer a no-fee ticket to event volunteers.
Hopefully, with these tips, you can enjoy a stress-free summer with cash still in your pocket well into fall!