If you’re planning to drive to one of the UK’s many music festivals this summer, it’s vital to make sure you’re well prepared for your trip.
A number of events, including the likes of Glastonbury in Somerset, the Green Man festival in the Brecon Beacons, or Wickerman in south-west Scotland, take place in fairly far-flung locations.
Many visitors may also be taking a large amount of camping equipment that would be hard to carry on a bus or train. So however much you might like to, using public transport may simply not be an option.
Prepare in advance
You won’t be the only person who’s decided to drive to your festival, so be prepared to spend a lot of time waiting in traffic as you near your destination. If you’re going to be stuck in your car for a long time, make sure you have more than enough water to keep everyone hydrated, and take some food as well.
Before a trip such as this would be a good time to get your car serviced: the consequences of suffering a breakdown in the middle of a traffic jam – and on the way to a festival you’d been looking forward to for ages – could be pretty dire.
Consider also taking out breakdown insurance so your vehicle can be up and running again as quickly as possible after any problems.
The AA offers Glastonbury visitors a dedicated festival hotline (0800 072 3642) if you want to join and get immediate assistance. Check also what the parking situation is at your festival: you may need to buy a permit in advance. In some cases you may be able to park at a reasonable distance from the site and use a shuttle bus or local public transport to complete your journey. This might appeal if you have camping equipment you can carry – and it could also make your departure a bit easier.
Work out when to go
Your best chance of avoiding the worst of the festival traffic is by arriving at a different time to the majority of visitors. Many festival campsites open a day or two before the event officially begins – and by arriving at the earliest time possible, you’ll be able to bag a prime camping spot too.
Organisers will be able to tell you when most people normally arrive: at Glastonbury, for example, the Wednesday and Thursday afternoons are the busiest periods. You might not fancy arriving late at night – especially with a tent to pitch – but consider making an extra-early start to beat the afternoon rush.
Just as important as working out when to arrive is deciding when to depart. If you try to leave at the same time as your fellow visitors, you could end up waiting for an age to exit the site.
Glastonbury organisers say that in previous years, motorists have queued for up to nine hours just to leave the car park when they’ve tried to get away at the peak time of Monday morning.
Share travel costs
The car-sharing website Liftshare has a dedicated page set up to help festival-goers get to Glastonbury this year. All you have to do is sign up on the site and you can search for people who are planning to drive to the festival, or who need a lift.
The aim is to help save money by pooling fuel costs: for drivers, this means a lower petrol bill (and some extra company), while for other travellers it is a cheaper option than using public transport.
Another site offering the same service is Freewheelers. Most of the major festivals have similar arrangements with car-sharing sites this summer: check your festival’s website for more details.
If you’re planning hitting the booze at your festival, then it may be worth considering insuring a friend on your car as well. This can usually be done for a really small price and gives you the peace of mind that if you are tired after your festival shenanigans, then you have a driver in reserve. Check with your car insurance provider for more details on adding another driver to the policy.