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6 Tips for Packing Light for a Weekend Festival

posted by Maressa Levy on July 12, 2013

I travel a lot. If it's during the summer months and it doesn't matter how much I bring (i.e. if I'm headed home to Florida for a few days), I tend to throw tank tops, shorts, and bathing suits into my oversized backpacking pack without much regard for what I'm bringing. When I pack for festivals, I have to be a bit more discerning. Here are my tips for packing light, whether it's for a festival or just a weekend away.

1. Plan Ahead

While it may seem like an obvious solution, planning ahead can save you a lot of time, stress, and energy. You're more likely to overpack when you're rushed, so start putting items you'd like to bring on your trip aside a few days in advance. Even if you don't actually pack your bag until an hour before you're supposed to leave, having everything laid out and organized will make the process much easier.

2. Vacuum-Packing: Not Just for Infomercials

Remember those vacuum-packing infomercials from a few years ago? You don't need a vacuum or expensive specialty bags to get the same effect. Separate your clothing by day, fold neatly, and place them
in quart-sized Ziploc bags. Squeeze all the air out before zipping (I've found that kneeling on the bag whilst zipping works well), and when you're done, you'll have a day's worth of clothing in a small, flat package. Label each day's bag so you won't have to open each one or scatter clothes all over your hotel room, friend's apartment, or tent floor. Bring back-up bags and use the same technique with dirty clothes so they won't mix with the clean ones - this is especially important for festivals, we've had quite the muddy festival season.

3. Shoes? What Shoes?

Shoes are often the bulkiest item, so one of the easiest ways to save room is to bring only one (comfortable) pair and wear them throughout the weekend. If you're worried about them getting muddy or wet, slide a pair of sandals or other flat shoes (Toms work really well) along the sides or bottom of your bag for hotel room or campsite wear. Remember to pack heavier items first, and you can always tie shoes to the outside or tuck them into side pockets to avoid wasting precious room. If they're not already in your compressed bags, tuck socks, underwear, and bras inside your shoes - it makes them easier to find in addition to saving space.

4. If It Can Be Rolled, Roll It

Once you have your three main outfits vacuum-packed, you can start to tuck other incidentals in around the sides. A windbreaker, light sweater, and leggings can be rolled tightly and stuffed into the side of your bag for easy access in case it gets chilly quickly, and takes up much less room than a sweatshirt and jeans. Plus, leggings can be dressed up easily with a nice shirt and the extra pair of sandals or flats you brought. A windbreaker is also a quick, easy substitute for a blanket or towel, yet not nearly as large and bulky.

5. Clean Out Your Makeup Bag

Or don't bring it at all. Chances are you're going to be sweaty and hot everyday, so you shouldn't need much more than tinted SPF moisturizer, mascara, and lip balm to get ready for the day (that is unless you're at Electric Zoo or any other EDM festival where brightly-colored tutus, fuzzy rainbow boots, and glitter are mandatory). Besides, when is the last time you really used that purple eye shadow palette you carry around "just in case?"

6. Keep It In the Family

Packing clothes in the same color spectrum means you can mix and match in case you have second thoughts about an outfit you packed. Neutral tones always work, although denim, black, and dark blue are a better bet for festival wear.

Practice your newly-garnered packing skills at upcoming weekend festivals Lovebox, Capitol Hill Block Party, Splendour in the Grass, Lollapalooza, and Osheaga.

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See Also:

Travel Essentials: The Carry-On Bag
What to Pack: Coachella
Low-Maintenance Grooming for Camping Festivals