I normally reserve my budget guides for foreign countries. Places on Earth so different that you simply have no concept of how much baht or dinero or moolah you’re going to be spending until you get there. But I’m gonna make an exception here, because Coachella might as well be a whole new fuckin’ planet, one where the citizens dress in Green Man costumes and take good vibes and drugs as currency. And since so many people will be flying in specifically for the festival (last year there were 42 countries represented), it’s going to need it’s own info.
For the record, good vibes and drugs aren’t currency unless you’re buying sexual favors. Burning Man this ain’t and the American dollar still reigns supreme. Here are the current exchange rates.
$1 USD = 0.94 EUR
$1 USD = 0.66 GBP
$1 USD = $1.34 AUD
$1 USD = $1.26 CAD[/alert]
Etc. etc. You Brits are going to be rolling in it, and I don’t just mean girls who swoon over your accent. Of course, you may be shellshocked by that weird ball of fire in the sky, but hey, it’s a tradeoff.
There are a lot of ways you could play Coachella, and like my previous budget guides, I’ll describe a cheap-ass way, the way I’d do it, and a way for the big ballers who just happened to choose car camping over staying in a Safari Tent, because those things are ridiculous and if you’re getting one, you don’t need a fucking Coachella budget guide in the first place. Let’s go.
The Cheap Way
- Hop off the plane at LAX, with your dream and your cardigan. I’m not factoring the price of your flights into this section because obviously, you should have figured that out months ago, dawg.
- Have a mild freakout as you search for your wristband. You could be wearing it already, and you’ll still have a mild freakout looking for it. It happens. It’s a big deal. You managed to find a crazy deal on that thing, and even though you had to buy a shuttle pass you’ll never use, it’s better than getting scammed on Craigslist. You dropped $430 USD for that ticket. If you weren’t able to get a ticket during the sale, then you can expect to pay a bit more, but even the passes on StubHub are dropping in price.
- Getting to the festival should be difficult, but luckily, Coachella is such a loving and inclusive place (the only people that talk shit on it are generally the people that have never been) that you can actually find people to let you camp with them for free – all they ask in return is good vibes, conversation, and probably a share of your drugs. Here’s a decent resource if you need a place to stay, but expect to pay at least $70 USD for your share in gas and lodging.
- I don’t care how cheap you are – you’re not doing Coachella 100% sober. I feel like a jackass for saying this, but getting at least a little fucked up is part of the point. Even if you avoid the beer gardens entirely, stay away from illegal substances, and bum a few cold ones from friends, you’re still going to want to pick up at least a case of cheap beer ($23 USD) and maybe a bottle of vodka+chaser ($15 USD) to last you the weekend. If you’re a teetotaler, more power to you. Enjoy the festival. I don’t understand your way of life and it frightens me.
- Now, for me personally, food is too big a part of Coachella to just disregard. There’s practically a church to Spicy Pie on the Internet, and I say, take me to Church. But if you’re dead set on enjoying the weekend as little as possible, then you can buy all your food in advance and survive off snacks and little cooked meals. Things like sandwiches, cliff bars, fruits and veggies, and jerky will sustain you well enough. I usually eat three small meals a day at the campgrounds (and we’re assuming you’re spending nothing inside), and that kind of food over four days will only cost around $40 USD, depending on what you’re actually buying.
- You could make it the entire festival without spending a red cent, but I’m telling you, when it’s over, you are going to In-N-Out, and you are stuffing your face with Double Doubles. Even the most frugal person can’t resist the tidal wave of hangover munchies you’ll be getting come Monday. I usually end up buying two DoubDoubs animal style, animal fries with extra spread, and a root beer float, the total of which comes out to around $15 USD. Stuff your face into it while surrounded by dozens of others doing the exact same thing, while the locals look on like a PETA film crew in a pig farm.
Now it’s time to head home. Or head on to your next adventure in America. Either way, your time at Coachella is done, and you managed to spend naught but $593 USD / £391 GBP / $794 AUD / €557 EUR. But come on, was it worth it? You could save even more money by sleeping in the horse stables and eating bugs you dig up out of the grass, but that’s not why you go to Coachella. You go to have a good time, and worry about money later. Which brings us to the next possible way.
The Moderate Way
- You’ve still got your ticket, but this time, you bought it with a camping pass. Face value is still $430 USD. If you can find that rate third party at this point, you’re either a prostitute or a thief. But I’ll allow it for the sake of moving on.
- This time, you’ll have your own camping spot. But you’ll need to rent a car. You can grab a shitty little rental from LAX for the weekend – where you can expect to pay around $150 USD if you’ve only got it for the festival dates and surrounding days. There’s a good chance it won’t fit everything you need, but at least you’re mobile.
- And finally, you’ll need to pick up your supplies. The Camping Guide will give you a good idea of what you’ll need, but if you’re coming in from overseas, you’re not going to want to bring all of that in your bag. Barebones, you should buy at least a canopy ($150 USD), a sleeping bag ($20 USD), and (maybe) a tent ($50 USD) to pick up on arrival. With any luck, you can actually return these after the festival. Don’t go spending too much on things you won’t be bringing home just because you want to have an awesome campsite. If you’re not an unpersonable fuckwit, your neighbors will share.
- And last but not least, stock up on ingestibles. You’ll want at least a case of beer ($23 USD) per person, along with, I don’t know, a bottle of vodka and chaser ($15 USD). Personally, I don’t drink a whole hell of a lot at Coachella because I tend to black out for four hours and wake up with a torn shirt at The Naked and Famous with a bruise the shape of Idaho covering my side. But to each his own. You can also get enough snacks for the weekend for about $20 USD per person, especially if you’re planning on eating a lot of the available food. And whatever else you plan on taking, I don’t know, will probably end up running you a cool $150 USD depending on who you get it from. You know what I’m talking about.
- So like I said, Coachella is all about the food. It’s part of the experience. The watermelon in the Do LaB, the morning breakie burrito, the crab fries and the late night noodles. Each one runs between $8-12 USD for a single serving (that’s festivals for you). I usually buy two meals a day (not counting snacks), and over the four days of Coachella, this runs up a bill of $80 USD on average. But good lord is it worth it. I’d also add another $80 USD, just in case you decide to hit up the beer gardens during the festival. I don’t usually spend that much in there, but I keep it just in case.
- Maybe souvenirs aren’t your thing. They’re mine, though. Coachella isn’t the cheapest place to buy a keepsake, but whoever designs their shirts is pretty good. I usually get a tank or something for $30 USD, but the plastic water bottles are cheaper if that’s your scene.
- On the way home, get the same $15 USD In-N-Out meal that I recommended above, but this time, since you’re gonna be returning your rental car, you’ll also need to fill up. With gas prices the way they’ve been lately, you shouldn’t need to spend more than $50 USD to get a full tank before the airport. You’ll need more than that to mentally recover.
Obviously, this way is a bit heftier than the ultra-cheap method of enjoyment. For one, you actually allow yourself to have fun. But the total for the weekend comes out to $1263 USD / £833 GBP / $1692 AUD / €1187 EUR. Obviously there are some leniences to be allowed – for example, there will be costs split between people in your group – but this is a decent amount to expect. Of course, it’s still nothing compared to the ballinest guys at Coachella. They follow…
The Splurge Way
- These guys don’t buy VIP tickets, because VIP is for suckers. Guest passes all the way. But because we’re still assuming you’re a realistic person who exists, we’ll stick to the ticket price we’ve already given – $430 USD.
- Forget about a rinky-dink little rental. That’s not Coachella. Go big with one of those VW buses you see in all the pictures. Those ones will run you around $1350 USD for the duration of the festival, but boy howdy do they look pretty while broken down on the side of the road with a busted fan belt and a horn that won’t stop blowing. Luckily, most rental cars at least come with a full tank of gas, so you don’t have to worry about getting to the actual festival.
- The total ingestibles cost ($368 USD for food, beer, etc in and out of the festival) doesn’t really change, though you could round it up to an even $400 USD by assuming there will be just a little bit more of everything. However, the cost of the campsite itself will change from the other days, because now the car is large enough to sleep in, rendering the sleeping bag and tent (and most amenities) unnecessary. You could buy more toys from the Camping Guide, but the cost of all that shouldn’t rise above $200 USD, especially if you still need to put all that stuff back on an airplane.
- If you’re splurging, you may as well buy one or two more souvenirs as well, like a water bottle or another t-shirt or poster. This will add up, and you may easily find yourself spending up to $100 USD on memorabilia that you’ll forget about almost instantly. Personally, I find little trinkets that I pick up off the ground to make better souvenirs than a poster, but that’s me. I’ve got a box of mementos full of trash that I love dearly.
- Those VW Buses eat up gas, so expect to spend another $100 USD just getting home. And again, don’t forget that In-N-Out. The best way to feel better about your drug induced hangover is to laugh at the people who’re feeling it worse.
If you live it big balling like this, you can expect to spend $2595 USD / £1712 GBP / $3477 AUD / €2439 EUR. And that’s batshit crazy for a music festival. Luckily, that doesn’t take into consideration splitsies for the van. And you know there are still guys out there dropping even more on house rentals. I think it’s too much, and the Moderate Way is my preferred spending habit. Regardless, you’re going to be spending a stack or two during your days in paradise. But if it was cheap, everybody would go. And then how do you brag on social media about getting a ticket in the first place?