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Festival essentials: What to pack for a festival

Crowd of people at a music festival
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Festival season is upon us and glitter, sequins, flower headbands and fancy dress should definitely be on your planning agenda. But fun stuff aside, it’s important to prepare for your medical needs too.

You’ll want to be feeling your best throughout your festival experience. So it’s wise to plan ahead and pack some medication and sun protection to help you stay fit and well.

Whether you have a health condition, allergies, or simply want to stay healthy, here we share how best to look after yourself in the middle of a field - and what you should add to your festival essentials kit.

Pack light

First things first, let’s tick off the absolute festival camping essentials. You’re going to want a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, camping chair and lots of toilet roll. Other useful items include duct tape, plastic bags, a head torch and not forgetting… wellies.

It’s also wise to pack travel toiletries rather than big bottles to save on space such as deodorant, toothpaste and moisturiser.

How to prevent dehydration

It’s easy to forget to drink water when we’re having fun, especially when there’s plenty of dancing, alcohol and walking around the festival site.

But being dehydrated is a serious issue and can make you feel rotten. Symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting or seizures in severe cases

Drinking lots of water and avoiding alcohol is the number one way to stay hydrated in summer. Try to have 2 litres each day; even more if it’s particularly sunny. You can also pack a few rehydration treatments to restore your electrolyte levels when you’re lacking in fluids.

If you’re feeling dizzy, energy supplements can also help to boost your glucose levels and keep you going from dawn till dusk. If you feel faint or extremely dizzy, get medical help at the nearest festival first aid unit.

Coping with hay fever and allergies

Festivals often take place in lush green fields - so if you suffer from hay fever or other allergies, including mould allergies, you’re unfortunately likely to experience symptoms. These include:

Luckily there are a few things you can do to limit reactions to pollen including taking hay fever tablets such as antihistamines or using decongestant sprays. Washing your eyes and face regularly may also help, as will pre-washing your sleeping bag and asking a friend to pitch your tent for you to avoid getting too close to the grass.

If you have other allergies or asthma, you should always carry your medication and Asthma Attack Card on you at all times. Be aware of asthma triggers such as changes to the weather, too much exercise (and dancing!) and air pollutants including cigarette smoke.

Use insect repellent to limit the risk of insect bite reactions and be aware of any food or drink you consume on site that may contain ingredients that trigger your symptoms.

Take care of your stomach

Nobody wants food poisoning at the best of times, let alone at a festival. So make sure to eat healthy and practice good hygiene as much as possible during your experience. Always wash your hands after going to the toilet and try to avoid any potentially triggering foods such as unwashed salad or cold meats.

Symptoms to watch out for include:

If you start to feel unwell, drink lots of water and eat bland food to help settle your stomach. You may also benefit from taking probiotics and friendly bacteria to improve your gut health before the festival.

Pain relief advice

Festivals are a hot spot for aches and pains. Dehydration, lots of walking and (hopefully) plenty of sunshine are bound to bring on headaches, joint pain and blisters during your festival. It’s all part of the experience!

Make sure to add plenty of pain relief to your festival first aid kit to keep aches and pains at bay. This includes:

Travelling with children? Ensure you have everything you need with a family first aid kit full of bandages and plasters to scissors, swabs and gloves.

Protect your skin and eyes from the sun

Festivals are notorious for having rain, sunshine and everything in between. But no matter the weather forecast, it’s always best to pack plenty of sun protection.

Even on a cloudy day you should apply sun cream on your face and body multiple times a day to avoid burning. Aim for at least factor 20 and remember to apply around your neck and ears too. It’s also wise to pack a bottle of after sun to soothe skin after a hot day and stop it peeling.

And don’t forget at least one pair of sunglasses! Sunnies are a staple festival accessory and aren’t just important for looking glam, they help protect your eyes from UV rays - and will stop you squinting at the stage.

Staying sex safe

There’s nothing worse than being unprepared - so even if you don’t plan on using it, make sure to add contraception to your festival kit list. This includes your routine contraception (whether it be the pill, ring or patch) and condoms.

If you have unprotected sex or your regular contraception fails, you may need to take the morning after pill to avoid unwanted pregnancy. This can be bought online or instore at LloydsPharmacy and can be taken within 3-5 days of unprotected sex.

Tips to staying clean and feeling fresh

It’s common for hygiene to become more relaxed at a festival - you’re sharing toilets with thousands of strangers after all. But there’s still plenty you can do to stay clean among the mud.

Use bottled water with your toothbrush and toothpaste to practise good oral care throughout the festival. It’s important to keep up with your dental hygiene and you (and your tent companion) will definitely appreciate fresh, minty breath.

If you’re camping with the crowds, you likely won’t see a shower for at least a few days so make sure to pack plenty of wipes for your face and body. Baby wipes and face wash will be your best friend after a hot day traipsing around the festival site. You might also want to bring some shower gel to freshen up your pits with some bottled water.

Lastly, let’s talk hair. No one washes their hair at a festival. But that doesn’t mean you can’t keep it looking clean. A bottle of dry shampoo is a camping must-have to avoid greasy locks.

So there you have it! Everything you need to stay clean and healthy during your upcoming festival. Whilst you might not use everything in your medical essentials kit, you’ll be grateful to have all the options. Particularly if you’re blessed with British sunshine.

Take a look at our must have men’s toiletries and don’t forget any women’s hygiene products you might need whilst you’re away.

Festivalling abroad? Find out what else you might need in our list of travel essentials and get our complete guide to sun care at LloydsPharmacy.