Six Ways to Get to the Festival of the Year (and Back Home)

Click this picture to go to the Festival of the Year index page.

Part 3 in ‘Festival of the Year’ series

Once you’ve discovered and selected your Festival of the Year (part 1) and assembled a fellowship of party friends (part 2) it’s time to start thinking about a method of transportation. Will you go by air; land or sea, or a combination thereof? That’s what this part 3 in the Festival of the Year series is all about. So without further adue, let’s talk hot air balloons, submarines and disco busses.

1) Automobile

Going by car is probably the easiest way to get to a festival and back, together with your friends and festival gear. There are a few things that you should consider first. Like always, you want to talk to each other beforehand. Make clear agreements not just about fuel and parking costs, but also about when you’ll be going there and when you’ll be leaving the festival.

Here’s some more pointers:

  • Be Safe
    In the end you’ll want to get home safe in one piece. Don’t drink and drive, don’t do drugs and drive. Don’t risk your life by driving with anyone who does. And it’s not just a matter of staying sober – it’s also a matter of being fully rested before taking place behind the steering wheel. Not having slept for hours, can just as easily lead to close encounters with trees. If none of you is up for staying sober throughout the whole festival you may want to consider paying for the driver’s festival ticket. Perhaps that will convince at least one of you. If not, consider a different method of transportation.
  • The Driver is the Man in Charge
    Whatever you may have agreed upon, if the driver wants to leave homewards and you don’t, it’s usually tough luck for you. Do you leave with him or do stay and go home some other way? Know your driver. Avoid being disappointed.
  • Car Searches by the Police 
    I myself never experienced a car search but over the years I’ve heard plenty of nasty stories. Big German festivals always have police check points in the roads leading to the festival. Even if you’re not brining any illegal substances it can be quite an unpleasant experience. Every corner of your car gets checked by police officers and sometimes sniffing dogs will be used. They’ll be checking every last corner of your car, every bit of your stuff and your person. If the dog points you out they’ll be stripping you naked too. The driver will definitely be tested for alcohol/drugs in his/her system. Having smoked a joint a week before will still show up and can lead to losing your car keys. If you’re unlucky to get searched by the police you want to stay calm and friendly. If you don’t speak the language try to look for the officer that best speaks English. Know that you have rights too. Consider doing research into this before you leave home.

2) Party Bus

The party bus is an organized bus trip that will bring you and your festival gear, from a central place near you, directly to the festival. These trips are usually organized by fellow ravers with a talent for organizing things. Or, if you’re unlucky, only a wish for such talents. Depending on how serious they take it, they’ll have a Facebook page, website with reservation form, rules, etcetera.

All you then need to do is;

  1. Book and pay for a spot on the bus
  2. Show up at (one of) the meeting point(s) on time
  3. Not get left behind during stops (happens)
  4. Be able to find the bus after the festivities (can be difficult at times)
  5. Not miss the bus (almost happened to me once or twice)
  6. Not get kicked out for bad behavior (saw it happen)
"The Experience" - Mother of All Party Busses

“The Experience” – Mother of All Party Busses

In my opinion the party bus is the most ideal way to travel to a festival. Why? No matter how many friends you’re with, you’ll sure make some new ones along the way. You not need to worry about drivers staying sober, and you get to have a little (or big) pre-party started. Just make sure to stay nice to the driver – usually they’re pretty okay and glad to have a group of beautiful young people in their bus. Don’t ruin their mood by trashing their bus. A grumpy driver will have a bad influence on the trip.

"The Experience" - Mother of All Party Busses

“The Experience” – Mother of All Party Busses

3. Aeroplane

When your Festival of the Year is a little (or a lot) further away you may want to consider going by air. Unless you have superhuman abilities that will involve getting on an airplane (or helicopter). Realize you’ll have to get from home to the airport, and from the airport to the festival. If you’re lucky the festival promotors will have a shuttle bus service from the airport to the festival. Be sure to check the times this bus runs; last year I had to rebook my plane ticket to BOOM in Portugal because I booked a day early.

  • Luggage restrictions
    The luggage restrictions will vary between airlines but there always are restrictions. Most commonly you get to bring one piece of hand luggage and one piece of check-in luggage. Some airlines are more forgiving than others.
  • Airport Security
    Getting on board of an airplane involves going through airport security. You can’t just bring anything on board of the aircraft, especially not in your hand luggage. Store your liquids and gels in your check-in luggage or risk losing them if they’re larger than 100ml (Liquids & Gels regulations in the EU). If you bring a tent as hand luggage you want to store your pegs in your cargo luggage. Know the regulations. Be nice to airport security, it may be me you’re facing ;-).
  • Tickets
    Keep in mind airfare tickets will get more expensive the longer you wait. Budget airlines may seem like a smart idea at first but be sure to know the luggage restrictions – easyJet charges 50 euro per item. Also, don’t expect much support when things go sour (cancellations, delays, etcetera).
Schiphol Airport

(AMS) Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

4) Public Transportation

I don’t know much about public transport in other countries so I’ll talk about what I do know. Here in the Netherlands, people like to complain about the train company all the time. I’ve had some bad experiences too but honestly, most of the time the NS (as they’re called) work great for getting from A to B and back. Works well for festivals too – the train station is nearly always within walking distance of the festival. There’s always that last train though, that you do not want to miss. As a general rule of thumb I always aim to get at least one train earlier (not 5 but more like 30 minutes earlier). It always takes time to get your stuff from the lockers, leave a festival and get back to the train station.

Tips for going by public transport:

  • Travel light and efficient
  • Memorize the way from the station to the festival to avoid getting lost afterwards
  • Time how long it takes to get from the train to the festival (add another 15 minutes for the way back)
  • Know the schedule (can be different on weekends)
  • Know the route (can be different on weekends)
  • Don’t risk going for the last option home without having a backup plan
  • Have a ticket for the return beforehand or risk queueing up with a ton of other festival goers
NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen)

NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen)

5) Taxi

Unless you have too much money or really, really need to get home my advice would be to avoid taxi’s. In my experience, 9 out of 10 taxi drivers will try to screw you over by charging ridiculous fares, especially when you’re desperately trying to get home from a rainy festival. It’s good that they’re there though, as a last resort. There are proper taxi drivers too – consider getting their number should you be so lucky to find one.

6) Hitchhiking

If you’re feeling adventurous you could consider hitchhiking. I’ve never done it though, but I’ve thought about it. Let me know if you have, I’m curious to hear how it worked out for you!

Conclusion

And with that we’re at the end of part 3 of my Festival of the Year series – it took me a bit longer to publish as I had planned, had to rewrite this piece several times after losing my writings. Have something to add? Feel free to drop a comment! So what’s your favorite method of transportation to a festival?

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