What you expect and the reality are pretty different.
It didn’t start with sunshine, glamour and celebrities but don’t be disheartened it did get there eventually.
For years, I dreamt of attending Coachella festival in California, America. In my head, all I needed was a plane ticket and a hotel, which wasn’t exactly true. Going to a festival is easier said than done when you live roughly 5,000 miles away and are working 16 hours a week on minimum wage.
For 12 months I vowed to save every spare penny I had and roped a friend into doing the same. My first piece of advice is to not underestimate how much you will spend.
Everything I thought I needed:
- A plane ticket
- A hotel
- A festival ticket
Everything I actually needed:
- A plane ticket or three
- Hotels (notice the plural)
- A festival ticket
- A Visa or ESTA
- Travel insurance
- Spending money (lots of it)
When booking your flights and hotels before your trip, try to leave as much time as possible. Flights vary in price depending on many things, last minute deals when you are flying to LAX doesn’t work. Try websites such as Skyscanner and Cheapflights, these compare deals with a number of airlines to get you the best price. It’s sometimes best to book directly with an airline, during my little adventure we experienced a number of delays which lead to missed flights and lost luggage. Booking directly with KLM meant they dealt with all added expenses, money we didn’t have to spare.
Don’t be snobby! You should be grateful you are able to travel to a destination like LA and see the California state, so when it comes to your hotel choices think safe and practical. Locations and prices come hand in hand but you aren’t going to be happy with an unclean and unsafe room.
Coachella is a massively popular festival in and around California, everyone local will tell you LA turns into a ghost town over the two weekends of the festival, so book your hotel for the festival early if you don’t want to camp. Camping in the extreme palm desert heat isn’t very nice for a girl like me, who is more used to 16 degrees on a good day, consider that too.
Be a tourist, like all the people you silently moan about when they stop in the street to take a picture, capture the moments with them.
I’d advise you to spend at least a week exploring Los Angeles and the surrounding area. Santa Monica is only a bus ride away, it’s the perfect beach destination and a chance to see the end of Route 66. The arcades and pier funfair allow you to be a cheesy teen, everyone loves a Ferris wheel and a photo booth.
Take a guided tour of Beverly hills and Hollywood, everyone needs to see the Playboy mansion and take a cliche picture of the Hollywood sign.
You will be amazed what you land on if you simply walk. The start of the Hollywood stars and hall of fame simply drift upon you and are must-sees when visiting LA. The museum of death is a cheap opportunity for anyone like me who finds murders, the victim and perpetrator interesting.
Coachella music and art festival
The festival lasts three days and includes a selection of some of the worlds best acts, Americas largest portable Ferris wheel and the best strawberry lemonades I have ever had.
Being under the legal drinking age of 21 in America, I can safely say I remember it all. The days are extremely long and the heat is tiring but it’s incredible so don’t waste your day laid in a Motel room or leave early because ‘you’ll miss the rush’. You don’t want to miss out on an opportunity like seeing Madonna seduce Drake on stage.
If you want to experience culture and music in a beautiful setting then this is the place to visit.
It’s easy to get swept up in the crowds, watching planes doodle across the sky and the hum of the seven surrounding stages whilst the sweaty bodies of attendees brush past you but what’s not to love about a festival in the sun.
My little top tip
My little top tip for America is to do with the suggested gratitude charge (the tip) when in a restaurant, surprisingly it isn’t compulsory. Remember you don’t have to pay what they say.
Are you ready to explore?