Image for A Guide To Doing Multi-Day Music Festivals Without Breaking The BankSplendour In The Grass 2016 / Photo: Maria Boyadgis

A Guide To Doing Multi-Day Music Festivals Without Breaking The Bank

Written by Michael Carr on November 2, 2016

In these days of soaring rents and shrinking salaries, it can be a hard task to scrape together the dough to make it to your favourite multi-day music festival. On top of the ticket prices, you have travel expenses, food and booze (which let’s face it is probably the top culprit for depleting your dollarmites club account), so managing it all without wracking up some crazy debt on credit card takes some creativity.

Luckily for you, we here at Music Feeds HQ are experts as stretching out a budget in the name of a good time. We are music journalists after all, (the most underpaid and over partied demographic I can think of). So in the name of live music, youthful exuberance and some good old debauchery we’ve decided it’s time we share our trade secrets with you on how to pinch those pennies and get the most out of your festival experience for the least amount of money.

So with no further ado, with a little help from our mates at YHA, we give you The Guide To Doing A Multi-Day Music Festival Without Breaking The Bank.

Tip 1: Carpool

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While yes the prospect of being stuck in a shitty car with mud-spattered and sweaty mates on the way back from a festival is its own kind of hell, the money you’ll save is well worth the discomfort. Plus you can all do sing-a-longs on the way up and play eye spy to distract you from the pungent body odor and cramped seating.

Tip 2. Bring Cash

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Carrying around all your money in cash sounds archaic and kinda stupid I know (especially considering how turnt you crazy kids get these days) but trust me when I say that you will be a lot more responsible with said cash if you can physically see how much of it you are blowing on greasy food and band merch. Plus the very fact it’s so easy to lose is a good incentive not to get shitfaced in the first place and so will also curb your spending. After all festivals are about the music man, not just getting messed up.

Tip 3. Stay in a Hostel

Port Macquarie YHA

For festivals that are close to populated areas, spending the night in a hostel can be a lot cheaper than paying for a camping. Plus you don’t have to drag along camping gear, you get to sleep in a bed (an actual bed), you can post all your FOMO inducing social pics using sweet sweet free wi-fi and you can have a shower in the morning. Luxury. Festivals like Beyond The Valley on Phillip Island, Festival Of The Sun in Port Macquarie (pictured), A Day On The Green in Hunter Valley and Bluesfest and Splendour In The Grass in Byron Bay all have YHA hostels nearby, and there are state of the art YHA hostels in Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and Melbourne, all of which offer accommodation a thousand times better than staying in a grubby cramped tent.

Tip 4. Volunteer at the Festival

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Times are tough for everyone these days, including festival organisers who are often more than willing to dish out some free tickets for people willing to volunteer to set up, pack down or just help out during the festival. And sure, you might not relish wasting precious party time cuddling some acid casualty in the chill out lounge or helping set up tents, but beggars can’t be choosers. So suck it up and just think of all that cash you saved on a ticket.

Tip 5. Bring Your Own Food

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Food might not be your biggest expense at a festival (*cough* booze *cough*) but bringing your own can not only save you a lot of money, it can also help you avoid intestinal distress induced by too much Gozleme. Be smart though and plan things in advance. If you’re staying at a YHA hostel, for example, use their fully equipt kitchen facilities and prepared meals in advance. Pro Tip: stick to dishes you can eat cold like a pesto pasta salad or good old sandwiches. And it’s probably a good idea to go vego to avoid food poisoning from eating spoiled meat when you’re too wasted to notice. Also remember to bring cutlery and dishware if the food requires it, as there is nothing more depressing than drinking your lukewarm baked beans out of a can while dealing with a massive hangover.

Tip 6. Look Out For Free Stuff

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Festival might just be a grown up playground for you, but for a lot of companies they are something else entirely. A captive audience. Therefore it’s not uncommon these days to find stalls set up by various food and beverage brands spruiking their latest product to the intoxicated masses and for the penny pinching punter these are a gold mine. You may have to deal with some less than appetizing fare, but bite the bullet and scoff as much as you can and watch the savings pile up.

Tip 7.  Pose As Someone On The Line-Up

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This one might be a bit out there, and limited to people with a passing resemblance to famous musicians, but you’d be surprised how much free shit people will give you if (they think) you’re famous. Pro Tip for this one is to check out the artist you are planning to impersonate when they play and try and adapt your outfit to best imitate what they’re wearing. But don’t be obvious about it, stars don’t go around telling people “hey, I’m Kevin Parker” and you shouldn’t either. This is infinitely easier if Slipknot are playing and you have time to rent a costume.

Tip 8. Barter Goods Or Skills

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It’s pretty amazing what you can get through bartering at a festival. You don’t have to restrict your bartering to just goods either. If you have any valuable skills (nunchuck and bow hunting skills are always in demand right?) you can use them to help spread those festivals finances. Just be sure to get proof of payment beforehand though as I can tell you from experience there is nothing worse than giving some a lap-dance in exchange for food only to be handed a french onion Le Snack and Roll Up.

Tip 9. Beg

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Now this option might be as desperate as I am for ideas right now, but considering how loved up the crowds at some of these things are, begging is probably more lucrative than you might imagine. The only draw back of course is having to swallow your pride, but that’s better than not swallowing anything for three days and coming out starved.

Tip 10. Become a Music Journalist

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This one is only slightly less degrading than begging, and I am likely putting my job in jeopardy by writing this, but as I can attest to, writing for music media gives you some perks (aside from scoliosis) such as comp festival tickets. Sure you have to remain relatively sober so you can properly document the event (hahaha, I can’t keep a straight face even while typing that) and you are essentially at work while at the festival, but these are small prices to pay for a free ticket and sometimes even access to that most hallowed amenity of any festival… the complimentary bar.

Find your nearest YHA for your next multi-day festival experience on a budget, here.

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