Camping festivals are the best festivals. But it’s always been daunting to think of going to a camping festival in another state. How will I get all of my camping stuff there? Do I drive? Do I fly?
We finally faced our fears and decided to attend Electric Forest this year. We knew we had to camp, that would be half the experience. We immediately crossed out the possibility of driving all the way there (30 plus hours in a car one way, no thanks) and decided to book flights. A lot of stress and anxiety went into figuring out how to fly with our camping gear, so hopefully with this post we can save you from some of that.
Number one, be prepared to check in bags. We flew Southwest because they let you check up to 2 bags for free, and you have a free carry-on too. We needed as much space as possible to fit all of our stuff.
Secondly, I would highly recommend investing in a backpacking pack. Having that longer body allows you to fit bigger items like a tent, that otherwise wouldn’t fit in a normal suitcase.
I will warn you that you are going to have to compromise, there’s just no way to fit all of your normal luxuries when you are flying. For example, we love having a big rug and pillows for our camp space, and there’s just no way of doing that. We knew we weren’t going to have our cooking gear, so we were going to have to buy more meals in the festival. Figure out what your essentials are, and what things you can live without.
We ended up purchasing some new camping items that would be easier to compress and pack up. As much as I love sleeping on a big air mattress, that just wasn’t feasible for flying. We found a great inflatable sleeping pad on Amazon that packs up nicely into a small bag. It’s easy to inflate and inflates decently high so you definitely are off the ground. It’s comfy and affordable! We also bought portable folding chairs that also pack up into a small bag. I cannot recommend these chairs enough! They’re durable, comfortable, and perfect for festivals.
For luggage, we each had a backpacking pack, a suitcase, and a backpack as our carry on. In the backpacking pack, I fit the tent for my friend and I, the foldable chair, my sleeping pad, a towel, a tapestry, a fur coat, and a few smaller items in the pockets (led lights, fun things like that). My friend fit my blanket and our tarps in one of her bags since she didn’t have to make room for the tent. My suitcase had all my clothes (we were forced to pack light and not bring a million options like we usually do), a pair of boots, and toiletries. My backpack had another pair of boots and more smaller items like sunglasses, a fan, etc. We also carried on our parasols onto the plane in their little bags. PSA: you can bring a parasol on a plane as long as it doesn’t have a pointy end! We also wore a big coat on the plane that we wanted for nights at the festival, so we could save room packing. You could also do this with boots if you didn’t have enough space. Since we didn’t have room to pack a pillow, we brought those little neck pillows on the plane and just used those as our pillows for the festival.
We did have to buy shade and a cooler when we got there, since we couldn’t figure out a way to fly with those things. We also stopped to get sandwich stuff and drinks for the weekend!
Although we originally were going to take the shuttles, we ended up renting a car for the weekend, which made everything so easy, and I’d absolutely recommend that! We had a lot of luggage for a shuttle anyway.
Another alternative if you don’t want to try to fly with all of your gear is shipping some of it out beforehand! If you don’t have any friends in the area to ship it to, I’d recommend flying out a day earlier, and shipping to the hotel you stay at. Hotels will receive packages for you and hold them until you arrive (although you should check with your hotel before you try to do this!)
All in all, our camp turned out looking pretty good for having to fly with everything! See for yourself-