6 Tips To Having A Great Time At Foreign Festivals

Tomorrowland
Tomorrowland

Scenario 1:

You’re in Thailand and the Full Moon Party was Last weekend.

Tip 1: Find Foreign Festivals

If you’re planning to travel a particular month, look up to see what events might be available so that you can include one in your travels.  Seems obvious, but there’s nothing worse than booking your trip and finding out you just missed the most legendary event of the year.

Some of the best festivals are off the beaten path for Americans, but must-dos for people from other parts of the world. Instead of going for the “obvious” festivals, check out the local must-dos. For example, Sziget Festival in Budapest, instead of Tomorrowland in Belgium.

Useful links: Festival SearcherMusic Festival Junkies . I’ll also be posting interviews with friends who have attended festivals, and my own reviews on www.travelbreak.net.

Scenario 2:

You just love waking up at 8 am every day of the festival, to switch accommodation. Everything was sold out for a consecutive stay, so you spend your festival mornings with additional public transport.

Tip 2:  Plan  Ahead

If you’ve been to California’s Coachella or Miami’s Ultra, you probably know that tickets sell out quickly; that doesn’t change overseas. You’ll have to set your alarm to purchase tickets on their time.

Your credit card may reject a foreign transaction. Call your bank ahead of time to let them know you’ll be receiving a charge from a foreign country, or your transaction may not go through.

I say this from aching experience: book accommodation very far ahead of time. Think: transport in Europe and South America is easy and affordable so people come from all over the continent (or world) for this event. You can’t always wing it.

Scenario 3:

Mean Girls told the world about Halloween, but totally left out the part that music festivals and all other costume parties are other exception days in the year to you know… “dress like a total slut.”

Tip 3: Sexy Costumes are an American Thing, Not a Festival Thing

In America, 75% of festival attendee are half-naked, or in costumes.  (Have you seen photos of EDC?). You’d be in for an uncomfortable shock if you were to attend say Roskilde in Denmark. Even the short shorts and tanks at Stereosonic in Sydney – another beach town with pretty liberal younguns- was moderately conservative in comparison to what some Americans wear to EDM Festivals. Pack accordingly.

Scenario 4:

Looking like an ignorant American tourist. You mean Oktoberfest isn’t very German? The train drops me off somewhere where I can’t get a cab at 2 am? 

Tip 4: Get the Inside Scope

You may want to look up some general information about the culture and historical background of a festival for say San Fermin Festivalor Oktoberfest Most locals are nice, so don’t  be afraid to ask questions – it’s a good way to make new friends.

Know how you’re going to get to your reserved accommodation before departing to the festival in case your phone dies (or is stolen). Save the address and know your route options.

Scenario 5:

100,000 people at a festival and you don’t know any of them.

Tip 5: The Power of a Wolf Pack

Try to coax your friends to come, or see if friends of friends are going. You’re better off meeting up with someone you kind of know than being alone (or even in a pair) at a music festival in a foreign country.

You can also post to the event’s wall to see if there are other solo travelers or small groups of locals could show some travelers around. {obviously, do this with extreme caution}. Websites such as couchsurfing.org also provide outlets to meet fellow travelers (you don’t have to stay with them to meet up). If you don’t like the people you meet up with, you can just leave them… but it’s worth a shot.

If you won’t be going with many of your friends, book the nearest hostel instead of a hotel – they’re more social.

Traveling in groups can become inconvenient, but it’s a safer way to travel. For more Tricks on Staying Safe Abroad, check out my post.  Also, catch my post on Perks on Traveling Solo.

Scenario 6:

You lost your friends at a festival in a foreign country. You don’t remember how to pronounce where you’re staying. Your wallet was stolen and you can’t get “home.” You didn’t know drinks are twice as strong abroad. 

Tip 6: Stay Safe!

You may look more like a tourist than you think; this makes you a target for pic- pocketers. You are also more likely to get lost, forget how to get back to your accommodation, or have a hard time navigating through the city. For tips on staying safe in crowds abroad see my other post: Tips & Tricks: Staying Safe Abroad. TC mark

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