After going to Hideout Festival in Croatia recently, I noticed how different festivals abroad are to those here in the UK.
The first major difference was not needing wellies abroad as festivals outside of the UK usually avoid mud altogether, unlike my trips to Glastonbury in 2010 and 2011 – you could be going to pool parties in beach clubs, all night raves in a castle, getting drunk on the side of a mountain or hearing a great DJ perform a set in the middle of the sea on a boat.
Here are some of my tips (they may not all apply to every festival but I hope they can be of use):
1. Budget (and have an emergency stash)
Make sure you check the local currency (someone I know almost took euro’s to Croatia!)
Bring enough money (or more than enough) to cover your trip – you don’t want to be caught stood at an ATM praying for non-existent funds to come out, or ordering quarter pints on day one!
2. Arrange accommodation in good time, and take pictures of any problems when you arrive
This is important as it will be where you lay your head, but even more so because you will want to be in a good location near the action!
My group of friends and I were stung badly for about £260 each (cash) due to a toilet that got blocked. We ended up coming back in the morning to a flooded top floor apartment with water dripping down to the one below.
This was definitely an expense we didn’t need and that none of us had budgeted for, and even though we got upgraded to a better villa with new people around, the knock on the door asking for money two days later caught us off guard and could have derailed the trip.
3. Learn some of the local language
Even downloading a local phrasebook app can be useful. In some of the restaurants, this helped me to order the right food and get bigger portions/ freebies. Although many of these areas thrive on tourism, some of them may still have a language barrier plus locals will usually appreciate foreigners making an effort.
4. Try the local food
It doesn’t have to be goulash or weird cheesy concoctions. You may find something brilliant like fresh meats, locally sourced fish or even a new way of cooking vegetables. I discovered Paprika Pom-Bears (again – one of the best crisps ever). Another discovery was that a full English doesn’t exist everywhere in the world, to the point where the waiter thought we were joking about baked beans being a thing – “BEANS, WHAT IS THIS? YOU’RE JOKING ME!” – and brought us a cooked “English” breakfast of sausages, eggs and salad.
5. Don’t smuggle drugs (or avoid taking them at all)
We heard some horror stories about people getting 40 hour coaches just to bring drugs over and then getting caught an hour outside the festival and being forced to pay bribes to avoid being put in Croatian prison. There was also a guy we heard about who ran into a random villa naked and threw himself off a balcony. If this happened it was probably down to drugs – it made its way around the island and seemed to be a pretty messed up story. You also won’t really know what is in the drugs you’re taking abroad. Getting medical help could be an issue and no-one plans to go on holiday to never return home.
6. Try new things you wouldn’t usually do at home
Bungee jump at 4am. Get body painted (by the great team at Purplepaint). Be a turtle in a cardboard shell. As a non-swimmer who isn’t particularly fond of the sea, I even got up early in the morning to go on a boat party with Sigma, DJ Mistajam, North Base and MC Tonn Piper which was a great experience, that my friends who stayed in bed went on to regret.
7. Stay out until the sun comes up
Your feet might not appreciate it the next day but you’ll have memories you will never forget and can sleep in until whenever you like. After all, who remembers how great it was that night they went home early to bed on holiday? You can sleep on the way home!
8. Don’t get too drunk on cheap local booze and pass out in random locations
You could well ruin everyone else’s holiday or alienate yourself by being that guy passed out under a table at the villa when your mates come home from dinner at 7pm.
9. Speak to new people
Just don’t break the ice by saying “the effects of World War II left your town devastated”. Probably best to steer clear of history and politics at a festival altogether!
10. Don’t stop dancing
What are your top tips for festivals abroad? Tweet me @jb_new or leave a comment below.