Since you’ve probably scored your pass to Austin City Limits via desperate posts on Rice Students Selling Stuff, planning and organization might not be your forte. However, situational awareness and forethought are critical to an enjoyable ACL experience – without them, you’re going to subject yourself to a weekend of misery and stress. Check out some tips and a packing list from a similarly disorganized ACL-goer to make sure all of your boxes are checked.
Basic Packing List
To bring: wristband, phone, fanny pack, small sunscreen bottle (non-aerosol), empty water vessel, portable charger, credit card/cash, sunglasses and printed map.
Not to bring: bags with more than one pocket, liquids, umbrellas, professional cameras (detachable lenses) or outside food or beverage. Also, in case you were considering it: frisbees, spiked jewelry, explosives or inflatables.
Stake out your faves
But only if they’re really, truly, deeply your faves. Standing at their stage from 11 a.m. until their headlining act at 8 p.m. might sound like a great idea, but spending nine hours in the merciless sun with thousands of bodies pushing up against you while you barely tolerate the preceding acts is not necessarily the most productive way to spend your time. Instead, consider staying at stages for multiple favorite acts in a row and move forward in the crowd when each act ends. You’ll end up closer without enduring significant bodily harm, and you’ll have the opportunity to start your wait at a more reasonable time.
Plan your transportation in advance
Don’t expect to successfully hail an Uber or Lyft out of the festival when your phone signal is nonexistent. With hundreds of thousands of people using the LTE network, you can fully expect either $80 surge-priced Ubers or no Ubers at all. Instead, plan to walk a few miles out from Zilker Park before hailing a ride-share, or take the free festival bus downtown, where signal and civilization actually exist.
Bring a portable charger
Better yet, be prepared to be offline. As mentioned before, signal is a precious resource at any festival, and you can expect to spend most of your time either filming poor quality videos or screaming into the phone as you try to locate your friends. Either way, battery is essential.
Make it a picnic
ACL’s chosen seating situation is the grass, so consider bringing a decent-sized picnic blanket to plop down on. This is a great move for when you want to listen to a band’s performance but don’t really care about how they look doing it. It’s also a way to avoid fire ant bites.
Hydrate or diedrate
Bringing an empty water vessel (bottle or sack) allows you to take advantage of ACL’s numerous free water stations. The alternative is paying ludicrous amounts to avoid heat stroke and dehydration in the very hot Texas weather. If you’re drinking, sweating and dancing, both conditions are very likely without hefty gulps of H2O.
Ignore or embrace the crazies
People will be riding the vibes, the drugs they’re on or the shots they’ve taken, so be prepared to deal with all kinds of craziness. Sometimes, this can come in chaotic good forms (Dancing! Sharing, uh, resources! Bonding over your love for music!) but oftentimes it comes in chaotic evil forms (Spilling beer literally everywhere! Shoving! Screaming in your face! Catcalling!). The best thing to do in the latter situation is to roll your eyes and move on.
Keep an open mind
No matter how thoroughly you plan, things are bound to go somewhat haywire. Be open to alternatives to your plan, such as seeing a different artist or walking a few extra miles. In the end, you paid to have fun – don’t let the concept of a “ruined plan” deter you from reaching that goal.