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13 Absolute Festival Essentials You Can’t Leave Home Without

Comprehensive festival packing lists are all well and good, but what if you want to take as little as possible?

Dragging everything but the kitchen sink (could be useful) to a festival is crazy. Minimise your backpack with my 5 absolute festival necessities and you’ll be free to enjoy the festival while all your mates are busy deciding what clothes to wear and where to fit all their stuff in the pop up tent.

Your Festival Essentials 

Essentials for festivals

1. A torch

My first festival experience, Reading Festival, was traumatic. In fact I’m surprised I ever went to a festival again. One of the most disturbing events for my 16-year-old, fresh-from-A-Level-Results eyes was the first night I tried to go to the toilet in the dark.

Thankfully, I’d decided to take a torch with me. Forever, I will thank the festival gods that I did. After queueing diligently I spotted a portaloo on the end unused. I went in joyfully, congratulating myself that I dared to check where no woman had checked in the last 5 minutes, and did a quick scout around with my torch. What met my innocent eyes looked like an explosion in a chocolate factory, and that’s putting it nicely. It was everywhere.

It still disturbs me, nearly 14 years later, that I could’ve sat down on that. Put my hand on the wall, touched someone else’s… eugh.

So anyway, to cut a toilet story short, there is no way I’d even consider going to a festival without a torch. This waterproof torch is currently less than £7 from Amazon. Bargain!

2. Travel Johns

Now these Travel John Disposable Urinals are a relatively new experience for me. My good friend Jen recommended them after her Glastonbury experience so I bought some for Latitude. Again, I thank the festival gods I did.

Latitude 2014 was brilliant, but the weather was horrendous. Every night at around 9pm it started chucking it down with insatiable rain that lasted until morning. Add to that thunder and lightening, and the fact I went by myself and you can see why I didn’t want to have to leave the tent at night, or in the morning, to find a toilet.

Peeing at festivals

What I’m about to tell you can only be truly understood by someone who’s been to a festival, and had to queue in the rain hoping their bladder manages to hold out.

The Travel Johns have a scooped funnel on top – suitable for boy parts and lady parts – which you place on your nethers. Let it all out and the bag will fill. Put to one side. Your wee will crystalise thanks to the bag magic and you can even use the bag again later. And, they give you a little handywipe too. No, I’m not off my face on too much festival fun here. It’s a true story. Changed my life.

READ MORE: How to Avoid the Toilets at Festivals

3. A hoody

Aren’t hoodies great? I mean they can be pillows, duvets, jackets, dark rooms, sun shelters, seats, and just plain old hoodies. There is no way I’d go to a festival without one.

You don’t have to spend a lot to get a decent one. Mine is actually from Primark, but it looks pretty similar to these casual ones ones from Amazon, starting from £3.99.


Packing list for festivals

4. A sleeping bag

Oh Dour Festival, by day you were so bright, so sunny, what happened at night hey? You would’ve thought I’d learn from that time I cycled 300 miles through France and froze my ass off every night because I’d failed to bring any warmth to save on weight on my bike. Oh no, not me. I decided I didn’t want a sleeping bag at Dour in Belgium so I didn’t have to carry it all that way.

BIG MISTAKE.

My friend did the same, I was sure one of us would fall victim to hyperthermia by the end of the night. Never again will I go to a festival without one. This Milestone Mummy sleeping bag looks warm and cosy, and is less than £20. Worth every penny.

5. Flip flops

Can you believe I went to Glastonbury without a pair? The weather forecast was horrendous, the wellies were in, as well as the trainers, but no flip flops were to be seen. Cue day 3 and glorious sunshine. Seems like most of the festival forgot their flip flops that year as all the stalls had sold out. Should’ve got these Havianas from Amazon – they start from £3.99.

It was an unnecessary day in wellies that day, and that, is a waste of a flip flopportunity.

6. Alcohol

Most festivals will allow you to bring your own alcohol but there will be limits. Check how much you are allowed to take into the festival you are going to. If not you may risk it being confiscated. The look of trauma on the faces of those forced to pour away their favourite alcohol at the entrance! Trust us. Nobody wants to go through this.

Some festivals don’t allow glass bottles to be taken in so again, make sure you find out beforehand.

READ MORE: How to Sneak Alcohol into Festivals

7. Bog roll

Let’s admit that most festival toilets do get quite bad. Those horrific portable loos… Nothing is guaranteed and that includes bog roll. Be kind to your behind and make sure to take some tissues in with you.

8. Camping gear

Tent, check.

Ground sheet, check.

Air bed, check.

Chairs, check.

Enough tent pegs or even the right sized tent poles… D’oh!

Speaking from experience it’s always a good idea to make sure you’ve packed the right poles for your tent before you get there. Make sure you have a checklist for all your camping gear and as for tent pegs, you can never have too many.

If you’re buying a new tent then it’s always better if you buy a slightly bigger one than what you think you will need. Trust me, with all your belongings and a couple of bodies squeezed in you will be grateful for that space.

READ MORE: What Do I Need to Take to Glastonbury?
(Works for all festivals!) 

9. Entry ticket

No ticket, no entry. You might think you could never forget your ticket as this would be really silly, right? Trust us, it happens.

Just imagine the security asking you for your ticket. You pat your pockets and your heart begins to palpitate. The look of horror descends upon your face. Even the people pouring their drinks away will feel sorry for you.

READ MORE: The Best Stories of Sneaking into Glastonbury Without a Ticket

10. Grub

Pack your own food otherwise festivals can end up expensive. Take food that won’t perish and won’t be too heavy to carry so you can stay nourished and energised.

Cereal bars, dried fruit, nuts, beans and flapjacks are perfect for energy and proteins. If you’re allowed to take a gas stove then you’re laughing. Pot noodles galore! Other foods like chocolate and biscuits are also great for munchies.

READ MORE: The Best Food for Festivals

11. Hand antiseptic


Hygiene at festivals can be pretty grim – purchase a little bottle of anti-bacterial hand gel that you can carry around with you at all times, and use it sparingly.

12. ID

Similar to the entry ticket, ID is essential to getting into most festivals. Granted, some festivals might not require this for entry but it still will be needed to be served alcohol at the bar. Better to be safe than sorry, especially any of you with baby faces.

13. Portable charger

You or one of your friends will definitely get lost, it happens at every festival. Having a phone with battery can be a time saver, and sometimes even a friend saver too.

Most festivals have a dedicated area where you can charge your phone but they can be expensive, and time consuming.

Just take a portable charger – they’re super easy and can be pretty cheap too.

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