As a performer and attendee, these events are overwhelming for everyone with a standard recovery time as people navigate back into the real world. An added layer of challenge to attending festivals or retreats comes when you have a chronic illness or disability. The mental and or physical challenges we can normally handle at home become more of a struggle when we are being very active in a new environment. There are so many things going on, we sometimes overdo ourselves and end up paying for it much later. These are some tips to help all people, regardless of disability, stay well and enjoy their festival experience.
Before you attend
-Read up on the event and contact the appropriate people.
If you need accommodations, such as electricity for medical equipment or accessible areas, read up to see what the events have to offer. Many events are outside with limited electricity options so chargers may be an important thing to factor in. Most websites have a Frequently Asked Questions sections and many answers can be found there, but organizers are always welcoming of questions to make sure people have a good experience.
Things to Bring
-Refreshing Food and Drink
Some events do have food vendors, but the options are not always the healthiest. If you are accustomed to eating fruits and veggies, bring some with you to eat at the events. It will also be repeated many times, but DRINK MORE WATER. Staying hydrated is even more important at these events because you are out in the sun for long hours. Being dehydrated can make you sick and impair your judgement.
-Medications and Medical Gear
Being onsite and having a horrible allergic reaction to something in the environment is not the way you want to spend the weekend. If there are medications you sometimes take, like a headache med or a sleep med, make sure you take proper precautions as many events are not in towns with well stocked all night pharmacies. I’m also a huge advocate of bringing a small personal med kit with commonly used items such as band aids, antiseptic wipes, burn cream, a common pain med like Aspirin, and anything else you might find really important to bring.
-Some non-technology relaxation tools
Downtime is important at festivals as sometimes we need a bit of solitude. Having a book, coloring gear, or even a deck of cards can slow down the fast paced environment. There are also many free times between events and taking a bit of time to center yourself may make the difference between lasting a few more hours or calling it quits before nightfall.
-Any gear to help make the event easier
Since starting to attend festivals, I’ve drastically upgraded my sleeping equipment as I’ve learned being well rested is vitally important to my overall health. I now have an air mattress and use a 20lb weighted blanket at every event. A new piece of gear I’ll be getting for this season is a collapsible wheeled cart to help transport items. Lugging a whole fuel dump kit with props and fuel can be exhausting at 1am after performing for an audience. Having something on wheels to help transport heavy items can save you time and energy.
When you arrive
-Know where the medical tent is on site.
You don’t want to need it, but understanding where it is and who can help you in an emergency can really ease your mind. Most of these areas are manned by trained professionals, but if you have specific medical issues it can be good to swing by and introduce yourself. This is especially important if you have any seizure condition as individuals react differently to seizures and some people may require other medical attention afterwards while other people simply need a quiet space to recover.
It’s normal to want to go into gear as soon as you hit the ground. Remember to take breaks to stretch, grab a bite to eat, and HYDRATE. If you are performing at a festival, remember professionalism and understand you are there to do a job. If you are going to have a late night performing, especially with fire, take the time to be well rested so you can give a safe and entertaining show for the audience.
-Remember, you have to get home safely
With most people coming to these events, the last day everyone’s energy level is pretty drained. It’s wonderful to enjoy yourself and give 100%, but make sure you have a plan to safely leave the festival. Driving while tired is extremely dangerous and unfortunately causes dozens of accidents every year. Take the time to prepare yourself to drive, make frequent stops if you need, and take care of yourself when you drive off safely into the sunset.