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How to Fly With Your Music Festival Gear

It can be exciting to go to a music festival located far away from where you live. Along with the music and activities, you will be able to explore the food, nature and culture of a new state or country. The only downside is all the logistics, and potentially having to settle for a less comfortable camping setup. You won’t be able to bring as much gear when flying as you would when car or RV camping. You will need to be more minimalist and focus on what you need (or really want) to bring.

I like to sit on the ground, spread everything out, and start packing, beginning with the bare minimum camping gear and adding on from there. Depending on your bag limit and budget, you may have to go without the fuzzy rug or blow up chair that you would normally bring if you were car camping, but it will be worth it to have an exciting new experience.


Know Before You Go

Before you leave, it will be helpful to do some research about the location you are traveling to, the festival you are attending, and the airline you are using.


If traveling abroad, it's important to have a valid passport and visa, as well as check for health advisories and travel warnings. You may also need travel insurance, an acceptable form of payment other than the one you normally use, and to fill your prescription medications before you go.


Researching the festival itself will help you know what you need to bring. For example, for a walk-in festival like Envision it is a good idea to bring the bare minimum so that your gear can fit in your backpack and wagon, versus if you will be car camping you may decide to bring decorations and comfort items such as a chair or rug. Depending on the festival, you might be able to pay a little extra to rent gear or lodging or simply rent lodging off of the grounds. Pay attention when buying your ticket to see what works best for you.


Be conscious of the airline you fly with. Some airlines have cheaper tickets but a lower bag allowance, so you could get hit with unexpected fees for your bags. By looking up the amount of checked baggage allowed and the fees, and you can ensure that you aren’t blindsided when you get to the airport. It may be better to book with a more expensive airline that allows more bags, depending on how many you are bringing. For example, many Burners who fly to Burning Man book with Southwest because they allow two bags with no fees.

If you continuously fly with the same airline, you can sign up with their credit card and build up miles to get perks. It takes time, but you may eventually get to upgrade your seat, check bags for free and even get free flights!


Consider arriving a day or two before the festival in case your plane arrives late and to give yourself time to do some shopping. It is also important to figure out your rideshare: if you’re going to be picked up by some friends, flying to an airport close to them will make carpooling easier. If not, figure out if you will be taking a shuttle or renting a car, and consider booking ahead of time to make sure that your ride is available when you arrive.


Carry On Items

Most airlines allow you to have a bag and a personal item, with one going below your seat and one going in the overhead bin. The dimensions and restrictions allowed for carry-ons are determined by individual airlines, so check your airline’s website or app to see what size items you can fly with. Both of these items don’t have to be bags. If it fits the size requirements, you can carry something else that is important to you, such as a blanket, air mattress, or lawn chair. Labeling your items can help you get them back if you lose them, either in the airport or at the festival.

It is a good idea to bring prescription medications, expensive electronics, and other important items in case you get separated from your checked bags. One hack is to wear a fanny pack; this counts as a piece of clothing instead of a bag or personal item, and gives you easy access to your phone, passport, earplugs, and other small items. You can also save space in your bag by wearing your jacket, hat or headpiece, heaviest shoes, and neck pillow on your person.

Most airports now have water fountains so that you can use to fill up your reusable water bottle once you pass through security. This will allow you to stay hydrated while traveling a little more sustainably by avoiding the plastic water bottles provided in airport stores. You can also use it once you get to the music festival and need to keep water on you.

Don't forget to measure your liquids to avoid them being thrown away when going through security. All liquids that you put in your carry-on, including thicker materials like toothpaste, lotion, and peanut butter, must be 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less and inside a single clear, one-quart zip-top bag. Anything larger than 3.4 ounces has to go in your checked luggage. If in doubt, put it in your checked bag or leave it at home.


Checked Items

Check bulky items such as bikes, blow up furniture, thick blankets, shade structures, lawn chairs, and decorations. It is helpful to pack them into a box or suitcase, ideally in the boxes they originally came in to avoid being crushed or mixed up. Ensure that electronics are properly padded to prevent damage.

Double check your items to avoid being charged extra fees- measure the length, width, and weight of your packages to ensure that they do not exceed that allowed by the airline. When locking your items, a TSA approved lock will allow you to lock your luggage but they can still be opened by TSA agents.

It is also a good idea to note that you have bulky items when buying your ticket, so you don’t get hit with extra fees. If flying with an untraditional item like a surfboard, instrument, or bike, it is important to arrive early to ensure that it fits the measurement requirements and is properly labeled. If traveling with friends, you can trade off on who will be bringing what to ensure that no one is over the weight limit. If traveling solo, renting or borrowing items such as a tent or cooler can lighten your load and make things much easier.

Consider investing in good gear that works for your lifestyle. If you are going to be taking your tent backpacking or flying often, you may want to get a smaller, lightweight tent that can fit in your backpack. If you will mainly be taking it to festivals, a larger tent in which you can stand up and get changed might be worth it. You can check your large tent in a box, ideally the one it came in. While this is not necessary, it is good protection to help ensure that the flight process does not scrape up your tent or bend your stakes.


What About Gear That Can’t Be Brought on the Plane?

Some things simply can't be brought on the plane, such as stove fuel or bear spray. If you find that you need a prohibited item, make sure to budget to buy or rent it when you get there. If you have any left at the end of your trip, consider offering it to arriving campers before you head to the airport. This will save these items from the landfill and likely make their day. You may also want to go shopping for food, drinks, and other provisions when you arrive.

You can also pre-pack a container and mail it to your destination, as long as they are items that can be sent by mail and will be arrive on time. If you are staying in a hotel before or during the event, many hotels take packages. If not, you can check with the local post office about their open days and hours.

Plan to Pack Out

Only bring to the festival what you will be able to fly back home with you. Be conscious of buying too much new gear, food, or fun souvenirs. Ditching gear at or near festival grounds makes festivals less likely to come back, due to the struggle for the organizers as well as the local community who have to clean up after everyone leaves.

With that in mind you're ready to fly, knowing that you have everything you're perfectly packed to safely make it to your destination with all of your gear!.




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Hi, I'm Koi!

I'm an environmental project manager who decided to make a change from office life to to outdoor projects and small business ownership.

My goal is to help promote forward movement in outdoor spaces and live events towards full accessibility and diversity by giving everyone the inspiration and tools to create their own adventure.

I love self expression, hiking, music festivals, and Burning Man, and want to show that celebrating diversity in the outdoors makes it better for everyone.

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