International Festival Camping Checklist: Essentials for a Destination Music Festival Abroad

So, you need to know what to pack for a music festival overseas. Going to a camping festival via airplane is much, much different than via car, where you can pack your vehicle to the brim with food, camping equipment, and any luxuries you may need. When you must conserve space to pack for an international festival, it’s a whole different ball game. Weight and size of objects are very important, and you must cut down on both wherever possible but still make sure you have everything you need to have a pleasant experience.

I’ve been to many festivals overseas, both coming straight from home and after already being on the road. It’s obviously easier if you are coming straight from home where you can order your supplies before you leave, but this international festival camping checklist and packing guide should help give you an idea of what you will need either way. And it’s just the basics – this is for people who want to pack light (ish) for a festival while still being comfortable.

International Festival Camping Checklist: Camping Stuff


First and foremost, you will obvi need some shelter to camp in! Make sure your tent is WATERPROOF – wherever you are going in the world. Many if not most festivals do have at least a chance of rain, and nobody likes to find out that their tent was merely water ‘resistant’ and not waterproof only after a monsoon has soaked all their belongings.

I have found that tents from Ozark Trail are cheap, waterproof, and do the job perfectly well. I actually bought a three person tent from Walmart and it lasted me perfectly. It depends how many people you will have, but this company has LOTS of awesome roomy tents. And by roomy, I mean some like this one  or this one too actually have three rooms!

You could also go pretty hard with this 12 person ‘instant cabin’ tent, but for the purposes of this article and for packing light I will recommend you bring a basic three person tent (which I use solo) such as this one right here. That should be totally fine and last you a long time, especially if you spray it with waterproof spray.

Waterproof Spray

If you are unsure or just for a double layer of protection, you might want to grab a can of waterproofer and spray anything you think might need it. My tent said it was waterproof, but I sprayed it with a layer of this just to be safe and have been super happy with it. I also sprayed by backpack, my big jacket, and my shoes just for extra protection. This way, no matter what level of waterproof your tent is, you can be confident in it. It’s best to do this before you leave!

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Seam Sealer

If you are using an old tent or a dodgy one from a foreign shop, seam sealer might be your saving grace. They’re super cheap and you can smear an extra layer of sealant onto your tent seams before you go to triply ensure water protection.

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Head Lamp and/or Flash Light

These are super important at any music festival when you are trying to maneuver your way through dozens of other tents to find yours at night! I have a small flashlight I keep under my tent and I use my phone when I can, but head lamps are probably the most convenient and are also small, lightweight, and you can still use both hands. Flashlights can also attach conveniently to bags or keychains. Hey, just get both!

Check Head Lamp Prices

Check Flashlight

Air Mattress or Mattress Pad

If you think you will be fine to rough it a bit and sleep on a yoga mat or the floor… don’t. Trust me. A good and comfortable sleep can make all the difference at a festival, and a mattress pad or lightweight/small air mattress can make all the difference. My air mattress is a twin size and rolls up to just about the same size as my tent, and everyone is super jealous of my comfortable sleeps!

This air mattress is nice and cheap, and this one is a bit better quality. You can also get a sleeping pad if you have somewhere on your backpack to attach it to.

Want to know a secret? If you are on a super-budget or have no space, a pool lilo actually works like a dream to sleep on at festivals. And they’re WAY cheaper and compact ???? 

As far as a pump goes? Leave it at home. Someone at the festival will have one you can borrow, I guarantee it!

Sleeping Bag

These days they have TINY sleeping bags available that roll up into nothing (like this one which is also all-weather), and are super convenient to pack on your international festival camping checklist. It depends where your festival abroad is, but you might want a warmer or colder bag according to the weather.

This Sleeping Bag is also highly rated and compact-ish.

Sleeping Bag Slip/Liner

Also depending on where you are, you may not even need a sleeping bag; a sleeping bag liner/slip could suffice just fine. I have a silk/satin sleeping bag liner like this one and I have used only that for a few warm festivals, and this saves a  LOT of space. But, other times, I use the slip to keep my sleeping bag clean and just wash the slip rather than going through the trouble to wash the whole bag when there’s dust and sand around. The satin is always lovely on the skin too!

Fitted Bottom Sheet

When I am only using my sleeping bag/slip I have always wished I had at least a bottom fitted sheet to go over the rubber air mattress to make for a more comfortable experience. Sleeping on top of just the rubber is a bit weird and you can always throw away an old bottom sheet after your international festival camping experience.

Inflatable Pillow

These are at Walmart or Amazon for not much more than $5, and can be nice as a pillow. Or, you can always use a pile of clothes (or a packing cube!)

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International Festival Camping Checklist: Not-So-Festival Festival Essentials

Backpack + Packing Cubes

This is more of a general travel essential rather than an international camping festival essential, but I love having them just the same. I love my backpack and packing cubes for all aspects of travel, but they’re especially convenient when camping at a music festival abroad because the packing cubes function sort of like drawers so that I can keep my clothes organized. And my backpack has its own different portions to keep my things where they need to be and separate my shoes, clothes, toiletries, etc and keep them organized in the chaos of my dirty camping tent.

These Packing Cubes are all you need. They’re Amazon brand and have not done me wrong for years.

Backpacking backpacks have always seemed to me the most convenient. You can strap all sorts of stuff (tents, mats, sleeping bags, water bottles) to the outside and basically finagle anything. This 65L Deuter Bag is compartmentalized, big and convenient. Amazon has a very price-conscious hiking backpack these days which looks like it wouldn’t be too bad.

Hanging Toiletry Bag

Whether you will continue to travel after your international festival or not, a hanging toiletry bag is SO convenient to keep all your things one place. Chances are that you’ll be needing to make a bit of a trek to the public festival camping showers, and it’s great to be able to grab all your shower and hygiene stuff conveniently in one bag. This also goes for hostels and any type of travel – I LOVE my hanging toiletry bag!

This bag right here is the style I like the most with multiple spacious compartments to sort shower stuff, makeup stuff, toothbrush stuff, and hair stuff.

Tomorrowland Belgium

International Festival Camping Checklist: Practical

Passport and Ticket

Ok, laugh all you want, but this is a serious matter. There’s NOTHING worse than realizing you forgot your passport, ID, or actual ticket when you get to the festival. Luckily you can scan many on phones these days but like, sometimes the most obvious things are forgotten first. So… you’re welcome.


Well, duh. You need snacks so you don’t have to spend money on expensive food ALL the time, so you don’t have to wait in lines/walk far, or just to have the convenience of having food on you. Clif Bars are my reliable go-to and always provide a good pick me up and are quite small.


Gum deserves its own category because it’s a festival necessity. I always have a pack on me at all times to share around and to freshen up after meals and when I can’t quite reach my toothbrush. 5 Gum is my go-to.

String – Washing Line

Guys, there are SO many uses for a long piece of string. And it takes up zero space. Bring one. Whether you’re going to a rainy music festival abroad or one where you may end up swimming in the sea or a river, you can chuck up a piece of string between two tents/trees/cars and hang out your wet clothes to dry again. You can also use it to repair things that break, tie parts of your tent together that won’t cooperate, or any of a million other things.

Clothes pins may be an idea as well. This portable clothes line here comes with attachments and mini-clothes pins of its own. Viola!

Reusable Water Bottle with Hook

Staying hydrated is key at international music festivals (or any for that matter), and the most convenient way to do so is by having a reusable water bottle with a hook. This way you can easily attach it to your backpack while you travel, your fanny pack while you dance, or your day bag as well! Share the water all around and keep it conveniently on you at all times.

This Bottle is similar to mine, which I love.

This One is Collapsible and extra space-saving (with a hook!).

This One is cheaper and useful too!

External Charging Boxes

Before each festival I charge up about 5 of these. Some international festivals have phone charging stations and some do not, but no matter what they will be quite inconvenient to use and may require you to sit and wait for a while (or pay) for your phone to charge. If you grab a high-powered charging box (or a few smaller ones) you will not have to worry about this all weekend and can plug your phone in while you sleep!

Anker PowerCore Products like this one are the best and can charge a phone three times.

This compact charger is smaller and easier to pack.

This charger is an absolute beast and could charge a laptop or a phone up to 7 times. Get one of these and there’s no phone charging station or plug-hunting for you for the whole music festival!


These can be used for SO many purposes at a festival. When at a warm festival, I may wear my sarong as a skirt and lay it out on the ground as a blanket to sit for a while before using it as a towel after a swim. When at a colder festival I may use a sarong as a scarf, blanket, extra layer, or a towel after a shower. They’re always fun and flowy and make for great photos as well for the ladies!

This Sarong is super cute!


Earplugs are a no-brainer at any music festival. Whether you camped too close to the psytrance stage or your neighbors like to get up at 7, you’ll be happy you have something to block out some noise.

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International Festival Camping Checklist: Safety

Combination Lock (or two)

Generally speaking, many domestic and international music festivals are a place where there are good vibes and good people all around. I haven’t heard of much theft at festivals, but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be any bad apples. I always bring a combination lock, usually two, to lock my tent when I am not in it. Sometimes I even lock my backpack with my valuables inside too. Of course, if someone really wanted to break into my tent they could slash it, but the lock provides an extra deterrent for unfortunate people like that. To this day (knock on wood) I have not had a problem!

But, some people prefer these school-style combination locks. 

Fanny Pack / Bum Bag

Hands down the best way to keep your things on you at an international festival is by strapping it right around your waist! Backpacks work too if you have a lot of stuff (although you must watch them), but I love my fanny packs and use them all the time. I even pack two when I am backpacking! Many have different compartments too so you can separate your phone, money, cards, camera, body paint, chapstick, or whatever you may have.

Check these ones out –

You can go basic and simple like this neutral bag

or go crazy, fun, and shiny like this epic one that I actually might order.

I have a tribal print one like this that I love.

Or, you can get fun prints like pineapples like this one! (Can you tell I love fanny packs? I’m having way too much fun with this.)

I also love to have a ‘secret compartment’ right on my body for extra safety of money and cards!

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International Festival Camping Checklist: Hygiene

Baby Wipes

Chances are that international festival showers may have long lines, be far away from your camp, or be expensive. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t take any, but what if, for a day or two, you could package all the best parts of a shower into one, tiny, 8×8, cloth?

WELL GUYS, YOU CAN. And they’re called baby wipes. Showers closed? Too tired? Jump into your tent and give yourself a festival-approved ‘baby wipe shower.’ Any festival pro will already know the term. These are the best way to feel a bit cleaner without much effort, or to wipe the crazy body paint off yourself before you get it all over your sleeping bag!

These Baby Wipes will do just fine (multi pack) and these Burt’s Bees wipes if you just want one personal package.

Face Wipes

The same goes here as for baby wipes! Face wipes are great, especially for the girls out there, to feel clean before going to bed. They will wipe off makeup and face paint, cleanse your face of any dirt that it may have encountered during the day, and enable you to feel great about a festival night’s sleep.

These Olay Face wipes come in one package or you could get These Neutrogena ones in a package of four.

Small Packs of Tissues

There are actually SO MANY uses for little tissue packets at festivals, perhaps the most important of which is when the porta-potties run out of toilet paper. Ta-daaaaa, you’re saved. Gotta blow your nose? Spill something in your tent? Sweaty from dancing? Colorful little pocket tissue packets got you covered.

Precautionary Medical Kit/Drugs

I always like to save a pouch of my hanging toiletry bag (or a pouch of its own) for first aid and different tablets you might need for any of a few different ailments you could get abroad.

I actually have a little mini first ait kit I keep in the top zip of my backpack just in case – it’s never a bad idea to be prepared! Neosporin is also always in my bag, along with band-aids and more.

In terms of (legal :P) drugs, I usually have a good assortment of pain killers, cold/flu stuff, diarrhea/constipation stuff, antacid, anti-gas, and melatonin to help with sleep. I don’t bring entire bottles, but decant some into little plastic bags to make it more mobile. You never know what will happen!  Nyquil/Dayquil are my complete go-to for any cold and flu like symptoms. I bring Tylenol and IbuprofenGas-XTumsImmodium, Benadryl for allergies, and whatever else I may have on hand that would save me a trip to the convenience store should any issue arise.

Sunscreen/Sun Protection

Sunscreen is massively important at any music festival because they tend to be during warm summer months where the sun will be strong! My go-to is any kind of spray sunscreen (so much easier than rubbing it in) and Neutrogena sunscreen for the face. Bring a hat too! And sunglasses!

Bug Spray

It depends where you will be going to your international music festival, but many places in the world will require bug spray if you don’t want to get eaten alive! This bug spray is  a bit more gentle, and if you will be in more jungle-y areas you might want a higher deet content like this deep woods repellant. 

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International Festival Camping Checklist: Comfort + Fun

Hand Fan

Hand fans, according to me, are the SINGLE MOST UNDERRATED FESTIVAL ACCESSORY EVER. Period. All music festival checklists should include them, camping or not! Honestly, at a hot festival, just being able to fan some air at yourself is actually life changing. And you can change the lives the the people around you by doing the same. I have never seen people so happy as when I fan them with my hand fan at the front of a super hot music set!

This hand fan (or honestly any) will do just fine.

Spray Bottle/Mini Electric Fan

So you want to get a little fancy and really wow other festival attendees with your cool-keeping abilities? Grab any old regular water spray bottle and go around spraying people (or just yourself) with it in the heat of the day. It’s the best! You can even get fancy and put vodka in it as a little experiment but it would probably taste shocking. ????

A mini electric fan could also be completely life saving. I have yearned for one of these in my tent many a hot festival morning. This one here charges via USB (and you could easily charge it with any of the portable charger boxes I mentioned above!) and this one is battery operated (and pink!)


Another easily forgettable but immensely important festival essential. A variety pack of Burt’s Bees chapstick is actually the only true way forward in life. If anyone wants to ship me one of these also let me know.

Body Paint Pens

If you have seen me at a festival in the past few years, chances are I have painted you or people around you. I LOVE these thick tipped water-based paint pens that I use! Usually I get them at art stores, but these paint pens look like they are quite similar. I should probably do a disclaimer that I am not actually sure how good these are for your skin and maybe you should look into something that is specifically meant for skin…. but gold and silver are SO FUN!

Glitter, Tats, are More

How else can you be a total festival kween without some shimmer?! And yes, I am also still talking to you boys. Flash tats are so much fun for festivals. You can have a lot of creative fun with this colorful chunky glitter ,  and they even have biodegradable glitter these days too! Check out these turquoise and pink varieties that are leave-no-trace certified!


Afrikaburn 2017 sunset set at the shell toby pancakes & poppers

International Music Festival Camping Checklist: Ideas for When you Get There


Clif Bars are the best for the road, but before you arrive at the actual festival venue you might want to stop at a grocery store to grab some snacks for your tent. You can go really hard on camping food, or you can go easy and basic – it really depends what kind of festival it is. If it’s the kind of festival that you can actually cook/make a fire you can get a little more creative with grocery shopping. Sometimes it’s more convenient to cook your meals to save money, and if so you’ll have to weigh the options of buying a cooler/grill there or just sucking it up and buying meals. If you can’t cook, you might want to limit your snacks to non-perishables and buy most of your meals on site. Here are some ideas anyway:

Non-cooking festivals:

  • Cans of tuna/chicken with saltine crackers
  • Peanut butter, jelly, and bread
  • all kinds of protien/muesli bars
  • trail mix/nuts
  • candy/lollies/chocolate for an energy boost
  • dried fruits
  • select fruits
  • chips
  • tortilla chips and jar salsa

Ideas if you can cook/bring a cooler:

  • Pasta with Sauces
  • instant coffee/tea
  • lentils/couscous
  • bread and sliced meats for sandwiches
  • Veggies – pepper, onion, potatoes, sweet potato, tomato, eggplant for a quick healthy fry-up or sandwiches
  • salt/pepper/hot sauce
  • yogurt/boxed milk and cereal/muesli
  • Wraps/pitas
  • cheese for sandwiches/wraps

I think that’s all for now everyone! All that’s left after food is drinks, transport, and actually setting it all up and having a great time! Enjoy your festival!

Author: Anna Johnson

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