17 smart ways to save money at festivals
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…Festival 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!
17 money-saving tips for festivals
Set a daily budget
Even if your friends are going mad with the spending, you can have just as good a time being just a little bit cautious of what you spend.
Setting yourself a daily limit 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 (yes, we've been there)!
Only take out as much cash as you need, and avoid using your bank card if possible. 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.
The hardest part can be not blowing your entire budget on the first night!
Set aside an emergency fund
It's also worth making sure you set aside an emergency fund in case point number one doesn't go quite according to plan!
The last thing you want is 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 debt, 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!
Leave your expensive clothes at home
We're not gonna pretend that people don't care how they look at festivals – most definitely do, but you have to be prepared for the idea that your clothes might not make it to the end in one piece.
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 and go for some cheap (and easily replaceable!) favourites.
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 from your tent.
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!
Look out for free services
There are loads of cool services that are often overlooked at festivals, but with a keen eye you can bag some free stuff.
Often you'll be able to find tents where you can cycle to generate power that will charge your phone, which will save you buying expensive portable chargers or paying out at festival charging stations.
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.
BYOC (Bring Your Own Charger)
Whilst some festivals will have free novelty chargers like the ones mentioned above, relying on this option being available is risky.
If this isn't available, you will be charged to… charge! Avoid this by investing in a portable charging pack – they're not too pricey these days, are worth the long-term investment AND it's always worth having a look for deals on them on our student deals page.
Most chargers will be able to recharge your phone more than 5 times over, so this should do you for the whole duration of the festival.
If you're feeling really cheeky, you could even offer a charge in exchange for beer!
Keep your money safe
Festivals are notorious for being the one time where we suddenly become the most carelessness human beings on the planet, and losing cash 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. Spoil sport!
Don't buy a programme
It 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, or download the festival app.
Unless you're extremely sentimental and are working on a (pretty worthless, let's face it) collection of programs from every festival you've ever been to, spending a tenner on a booklet you're bound to lose in the mud makes zero sense.
Be smart with your cash
Carrying 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.
Another option is to take a prepaid credit card with an allocated budget loaded on it. Therefore, if you lose it, you can normally cancel or freeze it using the card's app. Easy peasy!
Book your travel in advance
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 everyone else will have the same idea!
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!
Car share with mates
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 being designated driver.
Taking others in the car with you means that you can cut your fuel costs, leaving you extra beer money for the festival.
You can also use the journey to get hyped for the fun ahead! Who likes driving alone anyway?
Know the (booze) rules
There’s nothing worse than buying all of your alcohol in preparation, only to have it confiscated as you go through festival security.
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.
In short, always make sure you know exactly how much you’re allowed in by checking the festival website before doing the booze run.
Volunteer to get a free ticket
Volunteering 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 apply asap!
Volunteer to man a table at festivals for charities like War Child, you'll also get to go to some of the best festivals in the country – and help a good cause!
Recycle cups for cash
As 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 cash rewards if they return their used cups. It's only something in the region of 10p per cup, but every little helps!
You could find yourself buying a couple of extra drinks simply from picking up some leftovers, and they are everywhere at festivals. Think of the possibilities!
Don't waste money on pricey kit
You can easily spend hundreds 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 kit you take to a festival ends up going in the bin afterwards, as you can always rely on an British summer to completely wreck your tent… if you can actually find it in amongst the mud, that is!
Keep a close eye out for deals online, as well as 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. You're welcome!
Say no to merchandise
It can be tempting when you've just seen the best live set 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 later anyway…
If you really have your heart set on picking up a souvenir, at least wait until the last day of the festival to part with your cash. By that point, stall holders will want to shift gear and knock down prices.
Bring your own food
One 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.
Might sound obvious, but don't go for anything that involves preparation – 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 so you get the best value for your cash.
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.
Stash up on bottle lids
An 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 put your bottle away and save some water for later.
A sneaky bottle lid at the bottom of your bag can save you downing your drinks, only to have to buy more later! 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!