MY FIRST TIME AT COACHELLA
This year I was able to work with Peet’s Coffee on their cold brew campaign for Coachella Weekend 2 and since I got a lot of questions about it while I was posting on my Instagram and IG stories, I wanted to share my thoughts and overall experience. As always, if reading isn’t your thing, you can watch my one minute video of what I was able to film down below:
First things first, because I always want to be transparent with you all, I was attending the festival with a brand as an influencer and content creator (so my main focus was not to document or attend the actual festival, but to work). That being said, this would definitely make my experience very different from someone who bought tickets to attend the festival itself. Just want to point that out!
Coachella was always something that I’ve wanted to experience, but never did until now because of the cost, timing, and because I’m really not much of a partier (or festival go-er in general). In the last few years, I was lucky enough to be invited to a few different festivals that I enjoyed (FYF Fest, Air & Style, etc.), so I was pretty ecstatic when I got the opportunity to work with Peet’s Coffee for this year to help promote and create content for their bottled cold brew. Anyone that knows me well knows that I’m a caffeine addict (and Peet’s Cold Brew is honestly so good), so I was totally down to work with them on their campaign and drink a ton of coffee in the process. This blog post is not sponsored at all, but I just want to say how awesome (and super nice) the team at Peet’s is! They’re such a fun group and gave us as many of their cold brew drinks as we wanted. I personally like the almond milk one as I try to stay away from dairy, but I love that the ingredients are simple (less than ten in total), there are no preservatives (so it must be refrigerated), and the taste is pretty delicious for being a bottled drink.
My husband and I drove down to Palm Springs and the Peet’s team put us up at the Hilton Palm Springs from Thursday to Monday. The Hilton also turns out to be a pet-friendly hotel, so we were able to bring our pets with us for that Coachella weekend. We stayed with them from morning until pretty late in the afternoon and then enjoyed the festival mostly in the evening time/late night. Once we were all settled into the hotel, Raleigh and I picked up our media photo passes so that we would be allowed to bring our cameras into the festival grounds (no detachable lens cameras are allowed into the festival unless you have credentials). Peet's was also generous enough to give us VIP wristbands for the festival and Dayclub passes for the pool party happening at the Hilton for the entire weekend. We truly had THE BEST time - both working with Peet's and at the music festival - but I wanted to break down my thoughts/tips into a few points to keep it short and sweet:
1. The traffic is insane. Unless you're camping, you'll have to either take your own car, the shuttle or Uber/Lyft. Traffic here in Southern California is pretty awful to begin with, but since there are so many people attending the festival, it's kind of unavoidable. Peet's gave us shuttle passes to use for the weekend, but I actually had a TON of Lyft credit from previous collaborations I've done in the past, so it was the perfect time for me to use it. Now it really depends on when you're heading to the festival grounds, but it was about a 30 minute drive from the Hilton Palm Springs to Coachella that could easily turn into an hour and a half with traffic. The later in the day it is, the worse it gets. Another thing as well - hope that your Lyft driver knows where he or she is going! Each time we were dropped off, it was in a different place. If we end up going next year, I'll definitely put in a specific drop off address instead of just putting "Coachella" into our destination point (or just use the shuttle) to minimize the amount of walking we did to even get to the entrance.
2. Prepare for the crowds. Once you get to the grounds, there's a line for everything: security, to scan your wristband, for the bathroom, for the food/drinks, for the branded activities, for a photo in front of stuff, etc. However, if you can be patient and spot the lulls, it's not too bad. I've also heard that Weekend 2 is much more laid-back than Weekend 1.
3. It's not all fun & festivities. I didn't experience sexual harassment for myself during Weekend 2 (interestingly enough, I rarely ever do when my husband is with me), but I did read a Teen Vogue article about several accounts of sexual misconduct that occurred during Weekend 1. One thing I'd like to point out about this topic though (as it left a bad taste in my mouth), is that each and every one of our drivers had something to say about the way that some women were dressed (it was usually the first topic of conversation they brought up in the car), yet never anything about some of the equally revealing outfits some of the men were wearing. I personally wouldn't feel comfortable wearing some of the racier outfits I saw in the desert, but keep in mind that it's HOT out there and I think that people should be free to wear as much or as little as they like.
Other than the revealing nature of some of the outfits, cultural appropriation always seems to be a part of the conversation when it comes to dressing for Coachella. I definitely did see more than a few culturally appropriative outfits, but not as many as I saw online or when I was in Palm Springs the weekend before for #REVOLVEfestival. Again, I do think (as well as have been told) that the Weekend 2 crowd is a bit more low-key than those attending Weekend 1.
Also on another note, any situation involving alcohol can get a little wild. Some dude clocked me in the head by accident while we were dancing (he was perfectly polite about it though and even apologized) and another girl told me she got punched in the face! Just be careful - and aware - that it's not all happy dancing & Instagram photo opportunities.
4. Expect to pay premium prices for the food & beverages. We tried to eat/drink outside of Coachella as much as possible, but after dancing in the heat for a while, it's hard not to grab something when there are so many options available. We didn't drink alcohol while we were there, but a small cup of kombucha was $11 if I wanted the "large" size and every meal item (not including sides) was upwards of $10. I'd recommend eating the bulk of your meals before entering the grounds, bringing a plastic water bottle to refill (glass or metal isn't allowed), and budgeting for just a few desserts or snacks (we loved the vegan ice cream from Van Leeuwen). We did try a few food spots that we loved though (and all of these had vegan options): Ramen Hood, Monty's Good Burger and Sumo Dog.
5. The bandana/scarf is not just a fashion statement. It's SUPER dusty in the desert and if you're not a smoker, you may be overwhelmed by all the cigarette smoke being blown in your face. We kept the dirt & smoke to a minimum by wrapping bandanas around our noses/mouths (and around our necks when we didn't need them). Sunglasses during the day or clear glasses at night will also help if your eyes are sensitive!
6. Comfy shoes are a must. When I was looking up Coachella outfits on Pinterest, I was surprised at the number of heels & flip flops I saw. DON'T DO IT. So. Much. Walking. The grounds are huge. People will step on you. Grass + heels = no.. I'd say that athletic shoes or comfortable boots should be your only options, but I did see some people walking barefoot. Sounds comfortable, but again, it's likely that your feet will be stepped on at some point.
7. Drink water while in the desert. Self-explanatory.
8. Wear/bring your sunscreen. The sun is intense out there! If you're not going to wear a hat, don't forget to apply SPF to your face, ears, neck and lips. Festival hours are long as well, so remember to reapply!
9. Use the trash cans & recycling bins. I was really sad to see so much trash on the grass - especially because there are so many disposal areas. When I couldn't be bothered to find a trash can, I just put my trash in my backpack/pocket until I found one.
10. Have a meeting spot in case you get separated from your group. The Wi-Fi & service is pretty much nonexistent once the grounds are full, so we picked a place that we would go to in the event that either of us lost each other.
After I woke up on Monday morning I was SO incredibly tired and had to leave for New York for another business trip, but it was all so worth it. We didn't get to see as many bands as we wanted to, but we did see Alan Walker, KYGO, The Weeknd, BØRNS, Beyoncé, Portugal. The Man, ODESZA, and Eminem. I think my favorite set was KYGO - the music was incredible, the crowd was energetic (but not crazy), and his tribute to Avicii was so touching. I really hope to go again in the future (and plan my schedule better so I can see more musical artists next time), but thank you to Peet's Coffee for the incredible experience this year!