Beginner’s Guide to Bonnaroo
It’s been a while since my first Roo and I’m still trying to process how amazing it was. And while I’m not exactly the type to enjoy the heat, getting dirty and sweaty, the outdoors, or be especially outgoing, but I really did have an incredible time, and hopefully this will help others who are like me enjoy themselves too.
The prep work:
I had never gone camping before but did enough research and scrolled through enough Instagram pictures to know that it is possible to do it without looking like a complete mess. Not that I had anyone to impress or any intention of being 100% clean at all times, I just know myself well enough to know I feel my best when I look my best and am prepared for the worst.
The best thing I can advise to anyone planning on camping in the same car with a group of friends is to make a color coded Google Doc. That way, you’ll all be able to make and refer to the same list. Everyone will also be aware of who can bring what supplies, food, booze, etc..
This doc is a bit messy and incomplete, but it did help us a lot. But for clarification here’s our complete packing list:
Festival outfit for each day + Roadtrip and Post-Roo clothes
2 sets of pajamas
Hat, sunglasses, bandana
Extra socks and underwear
Appropriate shoes for each day. You’ll be doing miles of walking every day and there’s a good chance it will rain at least one day.
Flip flops for walking around the campsite/showersSmall purse or fanny pack
Body wash/face wash
1 Tent for sleeping and 1 EZ up tent for shade + lock for tent.
Pillows and lots of blankets for cold mornings
Garbage bags for dirty clothes and trash
Recycling bags (were given to us when we arrived)
Coolers + ice
Plates, cups, bowls, and utensils
Reusable water bottles
Facewipes/body wipes or washcloths
Sunscreen and aloe
Body mist or perfume
Makeup if you plan on wearing it
Scissors, tape, zip-ties
Camping stoves are incredibly helpful, but we survived without one
Post-it notes and pen
First aid kit (or at least bandages)
Medication (if necessary for headaches, stomach aches, nausea, sore muscles, etc.)
Some kind of campsite marker (balloons, colorful tarp or tapestry, flag, sign, etc.)
Deck of cards
If you’re into making your own photo ops, easy décor/backdrops for your campsite
There are showers available (for a price) but this was my shower for my first Roo. It’s enough to wash your face and brush your teeth. I took showers back at our campsite with some soap and a few bottles of water I refilled.
Peanut butter, jelly, Nutella, bread, instant cup ramen (we actually cooked it with warm water and leaving on the hood of our car for 15 minutes, believe it or not), granola bars or protein bars, snack foods (Chips, cookies, trail mix, crackers, etc.), cereal, Poptarts, tea or lemonade, fruits (bananas, tangerines, apples, grapes), baby carrots
The actual fun:
I can’t stress this enough. Don’t rely on your phone! If you absolutely must take pictures, bring a small digital camera or disposable one. Keep your paper schedule or write it down on a sheet of paper. Keep your phone on airplane mode and away all day until you absolutely need it to contact someone. We all know how easy it is to lose your friends at festivals, so just take this advice.
I know we would all love to believe everything is magical and nothing can go wrong on The Farm, but some people are out to ruin someone elses fun. Keep your stuff safe and don’t bring anything particularly valuable. If you must, lock it up in your car.
And it probably goes without saying, but the Tennessee summer sun is no joke. Wear your sunscreen even if you think you won’t burn or you don’t like the feeling. You absolutely need it. You’ll spend hours in the sun at your campsite, walking around, waiting for artists to come on stage, and in lines for food. Just walking from camp to Centeroo is enough to give you a tan. I waited all day to see Paramore in the pit and got quite dark even after reapplying several times.
Have an open mind and be optimistic. I’m not saying do every drug offered to you. I’m saying take advantage of the awesome moments that happen at Bonnaroo. Take workshops, stop and listen to artists you haven’t heard of before, and maybe try some outfits you wouldn’t normally wear. Sit in the grass and just listen. Do some late night karaoke with T-Pain. Make new friends. Find a secret Cage The Elephant performance in Plaza 9. Go to a free beer sampling. “Radiate positivity ” and take that feeling with you even after you leave The Farm.
Overall, the best advice I can give is to not do this alone if you’re anything like me. I did this festival with my best friend in the world, her awesome little sister, and her best friend. I can’t imagine doing it any other way. We had a blast, took care of each other, and made a detour in Nashville post-Roo for a real breakfast. Some people do Roo alone, and that’s totally acceptable and I admire that, I just don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much for my first camping festival. Maybe one day though!
I would also strongly recommend playing Buy U A Drank in the car seven times on the trip up to TN, but to each their own.