More people every year want to enjoy music festivals in a campervan, caravan or motorhome. Many big festivals such as Glastonbury, Reading/Leeds and Download have become campervan friendly, providing a dedicated campervan field with all the facilities you need for a successful weekend of vanlife and great music.
If you are planning your first festival campervan trip or just looking for some ideas to help you camp in style and comfort, we’ve got you covered. Here are some priceless tips we have pulled together with a panel of expert, festival-attending campervanners who have been to all the big festivals and lots of smaller ones too.
The right tickets
At most festivals you will need a ticket for your campervan and a weekend camping ticket for each person staying on your pitch. Always check when you are booking, that you are booking the right tickets to make sure that everyone with you gets to enter the festival or you could be left broken hearted at the festival gates.
Campervan tickets are in limited supply at many festivals so will sell out long before the festival starts. If this is the case at your chosen festival, you will not be able to buy a campervan ticket on the gate.
Awning and/or gazebo
If you’re wondering whether to bring your awning or not, definitely bring it, if you have the space. Most festival campervan pitches allow a tent or awning as long as it fits on your pitch.
Apart from providing a place to chill out in the evening, without being cooped up in the van, an awning is an essential weapon in the fight against festival mud.
When you get back to your van after a rainy day in front of main stage, it’s very handy to be able to be able to get your wet, muddy gear off and hung up before you move into the van itself.
On the other hand, if the sun’s out, a bit of shade now and again can be a blessed relief.
Levelling ramps and spirit level
We all want to park up, leap out and crack open a can to get the party started but having the patience to properly levelling your van is well worth the effort. It makes things like cooking, sleeping comfortably and generally walking around in the van so much better.
You’ll need a decent, strong set of levelling ramps and a spirit level to do a good job. It’s also a good idea to make sure you’ve packed some spare bubbles for the level (apprentices only).
Gas bottle spanner
If you don’t take a gas bottle spanner, it’s almost guaranteed that your gas will run out in the middle of the night when there’s nobody about that you can borrow one from. Your adjustable spanner won’t quite be big enough and you’ll spend the night with no gas.
Make sure you take your gas bottle spanner and leave it in the van in a place you’ll remember. We actually use an adjustable plumbing pipe wrench as it comes in handy for other jobs as well, including helping out other campers on a number of occasions.
Selection of tools
We’ve never been on a trip where some basic tools weren’t needed at some point. As a bare minimum you should take – big and small flat head screwdriver, big and small cross head screwdriver, pliers, small hacksaw, adjustable spanner, hammer and a mallet.
Tent pegs and guy ropes
You can’t have too many pegs and guy ropes when you’re camping. We keep a decent sized peg bag, full of all different kinds of pegs plus a few guy ropes, permanently in the van. It comes in handy every trip without fail.
Tent peg mallet
A wooden or rubber mallet is essential for stress free pegging. Bashing plastic awning pegs with a metal hammer is a great way to break them and you can easily bend a whole bag full of metal tent pegs with a rock. It’s also a good way to make friends. Mallets are probably the most borrowed item on any campsite.
Duct (gaffa) tape and WD40
Duct tape and WD40 could easily go in the tools section above but we felt that they are so essential to successful festival campervanning that they deserved their own heading.
The list of breakages, cracks, tears and other problems that have been temporarily, sometimes permanently, mended with gaffa tape is virtually endless but includes; windows, awnings, waterproof coats, wellies, boots, flagpoles and fancy-dress outfits.
WD40 is fantastic for freeing up old bolts, fixings and tools. It also makes a handy fire lighter fluid if you’ve run out of the proper stuff. NB take sensible precautions and don’t spray it on to an already lit fire.
It doesn’t make a great massage oil though. Or so we’ve heard. For correct use of Duct Tape and WD40, please consult the engineering diagram below.
Cable ties are arguably up there with gaffa tape and WD40 for multi-purpose usefulness. Attaching lights to flagpoles, connecting cables to awning poles and detaining terrorists, are just a few examples.
We always keep boxes of a couple of different sizes of cable ties in the van. You need to link two of the big ones together to deal with the terrorists.
One of the things about owing a campervan, motorhome or caravan, is that every year you have it something else seems to break or go wrong. Of course, there is gaffer tape for minor breaks and tears. Bigger issues might have to wait for a proper repair job when you get back home.
There is no excuse for being stuck without one of your electrical systems because you didn’t have some spare fuses. Buy some now and pop them in that cupboard in the van where those kinds of things live. One day you’ll be glad you did.
Battery packs and batteries
Festival campervan facilities usually don’t come with mains electricity as standard but phones, cameras, portable speakers need to be charged.
You may not have a USB socket plugged into your 12v supply and/or solar panel or maybe you do and have a lot of things to charge. A rechargeable power pack or two is always a useful thing to have in your locker.
Also make sure you’ve got a good supply of batteries tucked away in the van for any equipment you have that needs them.
Flagpole and flag/s
Flags are a must have item at a festival. They contribute to making the campervan field look great for everyone and get you in the party mood. They also help you find the van again and can help you find your friends if you haven’t managed to get pitches together.
Have you ever tried describing where you are in a large campervan field without the aid of flags? Make life easy for everyone. Just put up a flag.
It’s pretty much compulsory to have fairy lights all over your van now in any festival campervan field. We even have them up the flagpole to help with navigation when we return to the van in the evening.
Apart from looking pretty and festive, there is a practical element to putting up lights. If you hang enough of them up in your awning, you can generate enough light and party atmosphere to host a successful soiree.
There is also a small security aspect. You can use them to light the awning while you are away from the van. It makes it look like there may be someone in the van, on the one hand and also would enable you to see, from a distance, if there was anyone poking around in your awning.
We use both solar and battery-operated fairy lights and take lots more than we need at any one time to cover for faults, breakages and friends who forget their own head if it was loose.
One of the biggest advantages of taking your campervan to a festival is that you can cook decent food and save a bit of money to offset your campervan fee. There are some, typically smaller, festivals that specialise in good food. 2000trees is a great example. But, most of the food at major festivals is grim and expensive. £10 for a cardboard pizza! Seriously!?
We often take some meals ready cooked and chilled or frozen. Maybe a chilled curry, to eat on day one, a frozen chilli that will be thawed out by day two. We might have a fry-up on day three. Tinned food is also really handy for a quick bite. Nobody is ever disappointed by beans on toast.
Bin liners are like a multipurpose tool. You can do lots with them. They come in handy in the rain, when you can make a makeshift poncho to give a leaky coat a fighting chance. You also see people wearing them on their feet, stuffed in to trainers or boots, if they don’t have wellies.
You can use them to put muddy boots in so that you don’t get mud all over your nice clean campervan. They’re also just handy to store things in that need to be kept together or kept dry.
You can also put your rubbish in them, apparently, so don’t forget them.
Arrive with plenty of fuel
Make sure you have plenty fuel in the tank when you arrive at the festival. When it’s home time, you want to be able to get well clear of the area before you need to fill up. Enough to get all the way home would be better.
Apart from the hassle of getting petrol when you’re tired and hungover, when you leave the festival, the surrounding area will fill up with traffic and long queues of festival goers will form at every petrol station for miles.
If you have an aqua-roll or equivalent, you probably keep the barrel in your van so aren’t likely to forget it. We don’t tend to drink out of the campervan tap and just use it for washing so we also carry a couple of 4 litre water bottles. They’re big enough to last for a day or so but small enough to carry easily, in case the site water tap is a long walk from the van.
We also take personal water bottles so we can stay hydrated in the arena. Well that’s the plan. It never seems the right moment to top up on water when there is beer available but on a hot day, it’s definitely a good idea.
Festivals are all about music and pre and post festival tunes are a must to ensure your ears have the best possible time. We often take a decent quality Bose portable speaker but usually end up using the backup speaker, which is a cheap Bluetooth speaker-cum-disco light.
What it lacks in sound quality, it more than makes up for in endurance and rechargeability. A couple of hours on the USB charger and it’s good to go all night.
It’s unlikely that you will use an umbrella all day in the festival arena, but we usually keep a couple in the van for use in the campervan field, for quick trips between vans and toilet trips. It just means you don’t have to put your wet coat back on when you visit a neighbouring van to borrow a cup of sugar,
A well packed rucksack can hold all the things you might need to make your festival day that little bit more comfortable. Waterproofs, water bottles, waterproof picnic mat and sun hats are things you will be glad to have with you when the moment comes.
Be sure to read the festival rules for your festival as some now only allow an A4 sized bag or back-pack in the arena. If you have the right one, you can still carry some useful kit.
Forgetting the van steps may give you a great 3-day leg workout but, in practice, it would be a royal pain in the derriere. We generally carry a couple of steps that will stack. That way we have a bigger step for when the van is on a slope and the drop from the door is a bit longer.
Shorter members of the party have also been known to carry folding portable steps to use in the arena. These are particularly useful at Download Festival, where the average size of person seems to be somewhat bigger.
A word of warning though. They don’t respond well to being jumped on, so you’ll need to control the urge when things are getting lively.
Paper plates are a game changer, if you’re cooking in the van for a few people. Washing up is generally a lot more difficult in a van than cooking is. Anything that can make it easier is a god send.
Pop a paper plate on each of your normal plastic picnic plates, pile high with grub, scoff it down, maybe have seconds and throw the paper plate away in the recycling bin. No need to wash greasy plates.
Hooks and hangers
Hooks and hangers are just endlessly useful. You can’t keep too many of them in the van, especially if you have an awning. Being able to hang wet gear in the awning is a good way to keep your van dry and clean. It also allows you to feel organised and generally smug about how clever you are.
We always keep two or three torches handy as well as some spare batteries. We also have a wind-up torch, just in case.
Festival fields can be very dark at night. A simple trip to a portaloo can be made a lot easier and, potentially, cleaner with a torch.
You’ll also be grateful for an easy-to-find torch if your main power supply fails or trips, leaving you in darkness. Keep a torch in a place you can easily get to near your bed.
Flip flops or, dare I say it, Crocs (just kidding) are a useful bit of kit in any camping scenario. No need to wrestle with your boots, if you need to pop out of the van briefly. You don’t want to risk bare feet at a festival. There’s a good chance it will be muddy, and heaven knows what else you might step in or on.
Flip flops are also handy for a visit to the festival shower block. They’ll keep your feet off the shower floor, and you can easily slip them off, one at a time, to wash your feet.
If you’ve never used a boot jack to get your wellies off, you should get one and give it a go. At the end of the festival day, it makes a difficult and sweary job almost a pleasure.
A Barbeque, whether it be a standard charcoal one, a gas one which attaches to the van gas supply or a disposable is a useful bit of kit at a festival.
Not only is it good for cooking up some burgers for lunch or dinner, it’s a good way to keep your van grease free if you fancy a cooked breaky in the morning.
We hope that you find this list a useful addition to your festival campervan planning and would be delighted to hear about any top tips that make your festival campervan trips more enjoyable. We read all the comments so please feel free to add one.