SoulTrain.com’s Summer Music Festival Travel Tips

Jill Scott at Jazz in the Gardens Miami 2012 courtesy Sandra Alphonse via Flickr:Creative CommonsWhether it’s the Soul Train Cruise, Essence Fest in New Orleans, the Mad Decent Block Party in Atlanta, or Jazz in the Gardens in Miami, jet setting to another city or country for a music festival is a fantastic reason to travel.  Just like with any trip, smart planning will ensure that your music festival trip is an awesome experience.  Lock in your chance to see your favorite artists perform live by using these helpful travel tips:

Book early. 

The early bird gets the worm–or in this case, the best spot at the music festival.  There’s one thing that music festivals are known for, and that’s selling out fast.  To have a shot at getting the best seat in the house, buy your event tickets as early as possible.  This is also true for your lodging, your mode of travel (flights, car rental, cruise reservation), and your transportation to and from the music festival.  Trying to find last-minute deals often may result in sold out flights, hotels, and tickets to the music festival itself.

Pack light.

Most music festivals last 2-5 days, so you don’t need to bring a ton of stuff.  Also, charges for additional luggage can go through the roof.  The less you take with you, the better.  Besides, who wants to worry about dragging a bunch of luggage along when they’re going to see artists like Janet Jackson, Charlie Wilson, Usher, or Toni Braxton live on stage?

Aim for comfort when choosing your attire.

Naturally, we want to look our best when attending any event.  But Gators paired with a 3-piece suit or the latest 6-inch heeled Louboutins may not be the best option for a music festival, especially if its outdoors.  To avoid getting sick or injured at the event, dress for the weather and wear comfortable shoes.  You paid your hard-earned money for this festival.  Make sure you there to enjoy it all!

Research the music festival ahead of your trip.

Is it outdoors?  Are there campgrounds onsite?  Can you bring your own food/water/refreshments?  Are umbrellas or chairs allowed?  Are video cameras prohibited? Doing some research on the music festival will answer these and other important questions, and will help you figure out what you need to bring on your trip, and what you should leave at home.

Bring some cash on the trip.

Cash is still a preferred method of payment for many merchants and vendors at large events like music festivals.  ATM fees at these festivals can be as high as $5 per transaction, and the ATMs often run out of cash because of high traffic.  Bring some cash with you to ensure you can by that artist’s t-shirt, that great-smelling plate of chicken and ribs, or a refreshing cocktail.

Don’t forget the essentials (and pack them in your carry-on bag). 

Nothing ruins a trip worse than forgetting your important items at home (and not remembering until you’re already in the air or have driven 600 miles away from your hometown).  Also, you want to keep those essentials close by at all times, so that when you need them, they’re there.  These essentials include:

  • Photo identification (driver’s license, passport)
  • Prescription medication
  • Cell phone/camera/video camera chargers and memory cards
  • Extra bathroom supplies (tissue, hand soap/sanitizer, pocket mirror)
  • Personal hygiene products
  • Accessories (glasses/sunglasses case, contact lens case/solution, hat)

The best part about these travel tips is that you can use them whether you’re traveling across town or across the country; whether the music festival is this summer or next spring.  Have a blast at your next music festival by planning early and planning smart!

—Shawanda James

Shawanda James is a freelance writer and author in her native Miami, Florida.  In addition to SoulTrain.com, she’s written for CBS, MapQuest, Movoto Real Estate, and Boating Times Magazine.  Personally, she’s a wife, a mom of two boys and two girls.  She’s a bona fide travel geek, music lover, and book worm.  Check out some of Shawanda’s other published articles on her website. Connect with Shawanda on  Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.

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