We are just about a month away from a magical weekend at Lightning In A Bottle which means it is time to start preparing for a beautiful 5 days full of community, music, art, and love down at Buena Vista Lake, California. First things first: sort out everything you need to bring to ensure a happy, healthy, and successful festival weekend with your crew. LIB is an immersive camping-only festival so there are a lot of things to consider from your camp set up, clothes you will need, different weather elements, food and nutrition, and so on. I am a self-proclaimed vet when it comes to camping festivals so I can give some sound advice on what to bring to your first LIB.
Water and Food
One word… water. Let me reiterate… water. I cannot stress it enough, WATER! You need water and you need tons of it. I would plan for 2 gallons a day per person. I know that sounds extra, but with the extreme heat in the central valley plus all the energy you are exerting from walking and dancing all day, you are going to need it. It’s always better to have extra water than not enough. With that being said, there are free water stations throughout the grounds but it’s good to have plenty of your own at your campground. Another key to hydration is Liquid IV or something similar, they are lifesavers! Any hydration multiplier or electrolytes will work but I like to put one packet of Liquid IV in my hydration backpack every day.
Next is food. It is equally important to stay well-nourished and fed during the weekend. Think about foods that will make you feel good and keep you energized and going. For snacks, I personally love having protein bars, bananas, oranges, trail mix, beef jerky, and similar nonperishable items. Most people love bringing small grills to cook their meals and I highly suggest it, but I personally love indulging in all the food vendors available at LIB. They have a plethora of healthy options compared to the typical festival’s chicken tenders and pizza options (nothing wrong with a slice of pepperoni but I can’t live off greasy food all weekend). LIB features vegan cuisine, smoothies, and lots of fresh favorites. Fuel your body with real nutrition, not junk!
Camp Set Up
Let’s talk about your home for the weekend and everything you need to have a comfortable and livable camping space. Let’s start with the basics like a tent, camping chairs, canopy (or EZ up), and bedding. But that’s just the basics. Think of your camping spot as three sections: your bedroom, your living room, and your car. For your “bedroom” you need a tent, stakes, something to put the stakes in the ground (do not forget that mallet!), and bedding. I personally love to bring an air mattress with sheets, fuzzy blankets, and pillows (don’t forget the air mattress pump). Some prefer a cot while others simply bring a sleeping bag and pillow for the ground. Do whatever gets you the best night’s sleep. I also suggest having a lantern or source of light inside your tent at night and DO NOT FORGET an eye mask and earplugs to get that real good sleep. (The earplugs are necessary for the show too!)
For your “living room,” you will need camping chairs to sit in, but I am a big fan of inflatable couches to lounge back. I personally like a large rug, carpet, or turf for the living area so I can comfortably walk around barefoot. You definitely want a canopy above your living space to beat the heat and provide shade along with tapestries (or flat sheets) to hang down from the canopy which creates more shade (and privacy if necessary). A table is also a must to put miscellaneous items, cups, or whatever on. Fans and misters will be great to help during the hot days, but you can always take a dip in the lake to cool off as well. Fairy lights are super cute and vibey when they hang from your canopy and are good for a little light at nighttime. Of course, a cooler is necessary to keep your drinks or perishable foods cold. Your car is the perfect place for all your valuables, and I prefer to keep my clothes and toiletries in my car and use it as a closet.
Wellness and Medical
Please do not neglect what your body is telling you throughout the weekend. Always listen to your body! Whether that means rest, food, water, or some supplements/medication to keep you running without getting sick. Bring all those vitamins baby! Gummy vitamins, Emergen-C, magnesium, and ESPECIALLY melatonin (or any sleeping aid) because it can be difficult to calm down and sleep after an overstimulated day and loud music playing around you. A first aid kit will definitely come in handy as chances are someone will need a band-aid and some Neosporin, especially those that are blister prone. Speaking of blisters, get moleskin. Moleskin has kept my feet happy and blister-free at many festivals. I tend to get blisters even in the most comfortable shoes. And speaking of shoes, I know those chunky platforms look amazing on you, but please bring comfy shoes that you can walk miles in without being in pain. I promise you will regret only wearing the cute festy shoes. In regards to wellness, LIB offers many classes, yoga, workshops, seminars, and other experiences that promote wellness. Just make sure you are taking care of yourself and listening to your body.
Personal Items + Tips
I don’t need to tell you this part but obviously, bring your toiletries. I don’t think I need to list what that includes either. But don’t forget the essentials: sunglasses, sunscreen, toothbrush, shower supplies, towel, deodorant, and a pashmina, duh. Some items you may not have thought of are baby wipes for freshening up and toilet paper for when the port-o-potties run out. Side note: I suggest bringing a headlamp to use the bathroom at night because you don’t get much light in there and using a potty in the dark is not the move.
My best camping festival tip for my fashionistas is planning your outfits out in advance and packing them separately in reusable bags ready to go (accessories and sunnies included). A hammock is also a MUST for me at LIB. One thing I LOVE about this festival and what the DoLAB does is every stage has a very “homey” feeling. You can literally set up your hammock, inflatable couch, windsack, or camping chair in the middle of the dance floor if you really wanted to, although I suggest doing that more towards the back. Here is a list of things I can’t live without: GLITTER (biodegradable preferred), a fan to keep me cooled off, and definitely a bandana or face covering because it gets dusty up there.
Good Vibes and Good Habits
I know that sounds cheesy, but it needs to be said. Come with a positive attitude and do the right thing, always look out for each other. LIB is a mindful and conscious festival full of love and expression and that is the vibe to expect upon entering LIB’s land. LIB is a “leave no trace” festival so make sure whatever you pack in, you also pack out. Look out for your neighbor. If you see anything suspicious, report it. If someone looks like they need help, seek help. Pace yourself. LIB (and all camping festivals) is a marathon, not a sprint. There is so much to see and do at Lightning. Do not stress about missing out on anything, just go with the flow. You are exactly where you need to be, at all times. Explore and be curious. Adventure out to places you normally wouldn’t and talk to strangers. The crowd at LIB has some of the friendliest faces you will ever encounter. There are so many hidden gems to be found throughout the festival so try new things. You are gearing up for one of those most epic and incredible weekends of your life. Unlike any other festival you may have experienced, the Do Lab just hits different. Enjoy yourself and be kind to everyone. In the words of my favorite headliner for 2022, Griz, “show love, spread love.”
I hope this helps you think of everything you need to bring to your first LIB and gives you an idea of the festival’s vibe. I can’t wait to see you guys there. Check out Lightning in a Bottle’s First Timers Guide for more info and ideas.