How to Go to Coachella on a Budget

That time of year has come again, marking the blossoming spring weather for most of the country and, of course, the migration of indie, rock, EDM and hip-hop music lovers to Coachella Valley for the infamous annual music festival in the desert. Maybe the two biggest questions on concert goers’ minds are: “Can I afford to go?” and if you actually manage to save the money, “Is Coachella worth it?”

With the first weekend of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival beginning Friday, and tickets on the official website sold out, you can either plan ahead for next year or be spontaneous and hit the road for this year’s unique lineup.

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Your Best Bet for Last-Minute Coachella Passes

You’ll have the best chances of scoring Coachella tickets during presale in June, with remaining tickets sold in January during the general sale. To attend Coachella 2016 without a hitch, make sure to sign up for updates from Coachella’s website, Twitter and Facebook to know when ticket sales are held.

However, there are still some tickets available for Coachella 2015 through sites like StubHub, TicketsNow and Craigslist — at an inflated price until the last minute. Using social media sites like Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter to communicate with fellow Coachella fans is your best bet, as your friends are less likely to gouge you on price. Also waiting until the last week helps, as those who suddenly can’t go will want whatever they can get to avoid a total loss.

Follow @coachella on Twitter for chances to win wristband upgrades and other prizes and call into your local radio stations. Often, if you’re local to Southern California, Coachella wristbands will be given away on local rock and pop stations. If you already have your wristband, you can sign up directly on the Coachella website for potential upgrades and extra features.

You can also take the “standby” route and see if anyone is selling tickets the day of around the camping areas or elsewhere near the festival. There have been some reports of people getting wristbands for much less than their original price by just being at the right place at the right time. It’s advised, however, to be aware of fake wristbands and those that have already been activated.

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Carpooling to Coachella

Carpooling is an easy and eco-friendly way of getting to and from Coachella while saving on gas, and there is great incentive to do this: As long as you have four or more people in your vehicle and paint the word “Carpoolchella” somewhere on your car, you have the chance to be spotted for a contest. The group that has the best decorated car can win prizes, like VIP passes.

If you need to join a carpool group or want to put one together, try ZimRide, where you can find others in your area going to the festival.

Available Lodging in Indio

Coachella offers attendees accommodations ranging from car and tent camping, to luxurious teepees at Lake Eldorado and cabana-style huts in its Safari Tents. Tent and car camping accommodations are already sold out, but luckily there are off-site options as well.

Off-site camping is favorable for last-minute attendees, where you can even bring an RV and take advantage of a more “home away from home” environment. If you stay close enough to the festival, shuttle passes can take you to and from the festival between 11 a.m. and one hour after the music ends each night. Listed campgrounds for Coachella 2015 include Indian Waters RV Resort (3 miles from the festival grounds), Lake Cahuilla Recreation Area (5 miles away), Indian Wells Carefree RV Resorts (5.8 miles away), Emerald Desert RV Resort (14 miles away), Oasis Palms RV Park (23 miles away), Happy Traveler RV (24 miles away) and Joshua Tree National Park (31 miles from the Coachella festival).

The festival also provides a number of hotel travel packages, local hotel shuttles, airport shuttles and platinum estates. See for more details. Expedia hotel searches for weekend 1 are on the Coachella site to help festival goers, but options like CouchSurfing and Airbnb might be your best bets at this point, as hotels will be incredibly expensive and difficult to come by.

Photo credit: Thomas Hawk