16 smart ways to save money at festivals

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By in Festivals, Save Money. Updated June 2016.

If you’re heading to a festival this summer, you’ll want to make the most of your time whilst spending as little as possible, right? We’ll show you how…festivalmoneysavingnewFestival season is what every student waits for all year round. Not only does it symbolise the start of summer, but also the end of exam hell! The only slight draw back of course is that if you’re right into your festivals, you’re likely to have a few expensive days out ahead of you.

Chances are, you’ve already forked out a fair bit of dosh on your ticket, and on top of that you also have to think about travel, camping supplies, booze, and you should probably factor in a budget to feed yourself at some point whilst you’re there too.

That said, all you really need is a little bit of forward planning and you can save a tonne of dosh…we’ve got some tried and tested tips to share!

16 money-saving tips for festivals

  1. Set a daily budget

    theskyContrary to the message you might get from this picture, even if your friends are spending wildly, save yourself the worry and keep your money in your pocket.

    An easy way to save you from going overboard is to set yourself a limit each day. This will prevent you from getting into a situation where you run out of cash before you’ve made it home and end up having to hitchhike the return journey!

    Allocating money for each day is a simple way to manage your spending evenly, and ensuring you don’t blow all your cash on the first night.

    Only take out as much cash as you need, and avoid using your bank card. That way, you’ll be able to keep tabs on exactly what you’re spending and how quickly your stack of funds are going down.

  2. Set aside an emergency fund

    leemurdramaIt’s also worth making sure you set aside an emergency fund in case point number one doesn’t go according to plan! You don’t want to be left high and dry with no money to even feed yourself, and end up having to borrow from friends (cause you need even more dept, don’t you).

    A nice idea can be to swap bank cards with a stern-willed mate, so you can access emergency funds if you need to get at them, but can’t bow to temptation.

    And if you do manage to make it to the last night without having rinsed every penny you’ve got, get the beers in!

  3. Don’t come clad in your most expensive clothes

    festival-clothesFestivals aren’t a place where people care about looking their best, so why should you? You’re there for the music after all!

    One of the biggest expenses of the weekend can be replacing your entire wardrobe that was lost in the mud around the campsite, so leave the expensive gear at home.

    With limited security, it’s also best not to bring your favourite t-shirts or jeans – or any expensive gadgets either for that matter – for fear of them going missing.

    Remember, festivals are 80% mud. You don’t want to ruin your bezzie white top because of a mosh or rave. Play it safe and leave it at home.

  4. Look out for free services

    charging-station-festivalThere are loads of cool services that are often overlooked at festivals, but with a keen eye you can bag some free stuff.

    Often events have tents where you can cycle to generate power to charge your phone. This will save you money on portable chargers or paid charging stations, if you really can’t live without your tech!

    Also, in past years, mobile networks have been known to create ‘charging bars’ where you can go and charge your phone for free, and maybe buy a drink to have while you wait.

    However, there’s also a lot to be said for switching your phone off and actually enjoying real life for the weekend. Let us know how you get on with that!

  5. Keep your money safe

    Fanny-Pack-FestivalFestivals are notoriously the time where we suddenly become the most carelessness human beings on the planet, meaning losing money is about at common as Hunter wellies at the main stage.

    Plus, with tents being possibly the easiest thing to break into EVER, it’s also important to keep your money and valuables on you all the time.

    Our advice? Invest in a bum bag! They’re the most fool-proof way to look after your money, and way more safe than leaving your money in your pocket. They’ve even come back into fashion these days. Don’t believe us? Ask Rihanna, Rita Ora or Cara Delevingne.

    If you think wearing a bum bag is a cardinal sin, go for a money belt, which is essentially the same thing but small enough to hide under your shorts. Cop out!

  6. Don’t buy a programme

    No-festival-programmeIt can be tempting to pay for a festival programme, but it really isn’t necessary and they tend to be majorly overpriced. With a teeny bit of forward planning you can save yourself a pretty penny – just print out a copy of the line-up and a map from the festival website before you leave.

    Alternatively, look out for mobile phone apps that many companies release just before a festival. They’ll direct you around the site and remind you what bands are on and when.

    Either way, it’s much cheaper than spending a tenner on a booklet you’re bound to lose anyway!

  7. Only take cash

    Take-cash-onlyCarrying wads of cash on you might not feel like the smartest idea, you’ve already invested in a bum bag, right?

    It’s really easy to lose your debit card if you’re constantly flashing it around in a muddy field, especially in amongst the masses of people queuing at a festival. Also, you don’t want to keep making trips to the cash machine every time you want a drink or something to eat. Think of all the queuing that involves!

    Hardly any festivals will have cash machines that offer free withdrawals, so don’t get stung on that one! Save yourself the expense and withdraw your money before you go. Many festival machines charge a minimum of £2 each time, so think of it as an extra cider for every time you don’t have to go queue at the machine.

  8. Book your travel in advance

    crowded-train-550x412
    As with any journey, it’s simple: The earlier you book, the cheaper your travel will be.

    People often make the mistake of waiting until last minute to book their tickets in the hope that prices will fall, but that’s a problem with festivals. You can bet that everyone else will have the same idea as you, so the tickets will be much more costly.

    As soon as you know the dates of the festival and the opening times of the campsite, book your travel ASAP. It’s also just one less thing to think about later on!

    For more information on securing the best prices for your journey, check out our guides to cheap train and coach travel.

  9. Car share

    Funny-Car-ShareAlternatively, if you don’t plan on using public transport, you could either hitch a ride with friends or on-board some pals to share the cost of you driving.

    Taking others in the car with you means that you can cut your fuel cost, leaving you extra beer money for the festival. You can also get into the festival spirit along the way – it’s all part of the fun! Who likes driving alone anyway?

  10. Know the rules

    Beers-for-festivalThere’s nothing worse than buying all of your alcohol in preparation, only to have it confiscated as you enter the festival.

    All festivals will have restrictions on how much booze you can take in with you, as getting you to fork out on their overpriced drinks is how they make their money! You also won’t be allowed to leave the festival and bring more booze back in.

    This is probably for your own safety, but it can cause problems when you buy a few crates of beer, only to find that you have to leave a couple at the entrance to be thrown away.

    In short, always make sure you know exactly how much you’re allowed in by checking the festival website before doing your shop.

  11. Volunteer while you’re there

    Volunteer-at-festivalsVolunteering to work at festivals can be pretty economical, as long as you’re willing to put in the work.

    Every year, festivals will be on the look-out for volunteers to help with things like giving out wristbands at the entrance; selling programmes, or maybe just helping to clean some of the litter around the area.

    In return, you’d get free access to the festival, as well as (sometimes, but not always!) free travel, accommodation, and food. But details do vary from festival to festival and demand for places is high, so get on and apply now!

    Also bear in mind that depending on how hard you’re obliged to work, you might not actually get any spare time to enjoy the festival or hang out with friends. So I guess it depends on how much you’re desperate to go to this festival!

  12. Recycle for cash

    Festival-RecyclingAs more and more festivals are striving to become greener, earning cash for recycling is fast becoming one of the easiest ways to help fund your festival weekend!

    Many are going in hard at promoting recycling, offering keen litter-pickers renumeration for the returning of cups. It’s only something in the region of 10p per cup, but that really adds up!

    You could find yourself buying a couple of extra drinks simply from picking up some cups, and they are everywhere at festivals.

  13. Don’t waste money on expensive equipment

    Ruined-TentFestivals aren’t about luxury. You can spend hundreds of pounds on all your camping gear, but it isn’t necessary and the chances of it getting damaged are (let’s be honest) pretty high.

    Most of the camping gear you take to a festival ends up getting ruined (unless you’re really careful). You can always rely on an English summer to generate enough mud to wreck a tent… if you can find it in amongst the mud!

    Keep a close eye out for deals in places like your local supermarket. You’ll be able to pick up all the essentials and still have plenty of change left over to stock up on some beer!

    You can also sign up to our newsletter and we’ll keep you informed if we find any deals on festival gear!

  14. Say no to merchandise

    nonononIt can be tempting when you’ve just seen the best live performance EVER, to rush over and buy all of the festival merchandise on offer.

    Spur of the moment splurges like this will really blow your budget though, so take a few deep breaths and step back! You’ll probably be able to pick it up for cheaper online anyway…

    However, if you really must get that t-shirt in the flesh, leave it until the last day when stall holders will want to shift gear and knock down prices. Oh, and be sure to avoid shopping when you’ve had a few…

  15. Plan your food operation with precision

    planningstageOne of the biggest costs at any festival is food, so planning ahead with this one can save you an absolute fortune.

    It’s hilarious how many festival-goers forget to take into account how much they’ll need to eat over the course of a few days!

    Take some food along with you for breakfasts, snacks and drunk nibbles and you’ll cut out a huge portion of your costs. Don’t go for anything that involves preparation whatsoever. When the time comes, the most effort you’ll be able to handle is opening a packet (and even that’s pushing it).

    If you feel tempted by festival scran, scout out all your options before committing – suss out who’s dishing out the biggest portions, and if you’re feeling particularly skint, you can always offer to clean a few dishes in return for a free plate of food. Worth a try!

    It might also be worth hanging around the food stalls as they’re closing up for the night. Chances are, they might offer discounted grub on food they won’t be able to serve the next day.

  16. Stash up on bottle lids

    bottlelidsAn increasing trend at gigs and festivals is to only give you bottles without the lid, which is all fine and dandy until you want to drink the rest of your water later.

    We’re never ones to advocate breaking the rules, but a sneaky bottle lid at the bottom of your bag can save you downing your drinks, only to have to buy more later! Anyway, we think this rule is only put in place to get more money out of people, in which case it deserves to be broken!

So there you have it! Follow these simple tips and you could end up having an amazing festival experience, minus the massive money-shaped hole burned into your pocket!

The main thing is to think a bit before you part with your cash, and always keep an eye out for any possibilities to get free stuff!

Got any ideas of your own? Let us know in the comments below!

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