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11 Ways to Save Money at a Music Festival

Jon Lal

With the arrival of May, we enter a time of year popular for grilling outside, planning vacations and now more than ever, attending outdoor concerts and music festivals. Music festivals saw a huge rise in popularity over the last few years, and for many it can be a multi-day destination trip. When demand rises, we can always count on rising costs, but with a few tips and tricks you can still see your favorite bands this summer and have money leftover in your vacation fund.

Here are 11 ways to save money at a music festival:

Choose wisely:

You may already have a specific music festival in mind, but if all you know is you want to hear some great music in a beautiful location, choose carefully. Some of the bigger name events have a price tag just as big; search around based on your favorite artist or a destination you'd love to see and you could be pleasantly surprised by a lower cost.

Buy early:

Once you choose a festival, buy your tickets as early as possible. Set up Google alerts with the name of the event so you're the first to know early bird prices. Also, check the festival lineup and see when your favorite bands are playing. You might be able to save money on a full pass by buying a ticket for only one or two days.

Check for deals:

Some music festivals partner with sites like Groupon or Living Social and offer tickets at a discounted price. Take a look around before you make your ticket purchase.

Decide how to get there:

Now that you have your ticket, figure out the cheapest way to get there. Parking can often cost extra at a festival, so you may want to choose public transportation. This is the best option if you don't need to travel around much once you get there. Compare rates for flying versus traveling by bus or train to figure out which will be the least expensive. If you do decide to drive, carpool with others to split the cost of gas. Consider bringing a bicycle if you arrive in someone else's car for a free and easy way to get around, especially if you need to leave the festival grounds.

Figure out where to stay:

Camping is likely the most cost-effective choice of lodging at a music festival, but do check in advance to see if the festival charges extra for camping on the grounds. If possible, purchase any needed camping equipment in the off-season -- the best time to buy is in the fall. If you can't stand the thought of sleeping on the ground, search early for a hotel and consider the fact that you likely won't be there unless it's to sleep. Make sure you're not paying for pricey amenities.

Avoid costly extras:

Once you're in the door, there will suddenly be a lot of expensive options available to enhance your experience. Try to plan ahead as much as possible as these costs can add up quick. Rather than pay for a map or schedule, print your own off beforehand or download the festival's app on your phone.

Eat smart:

This is a big one; one of the biggest opportunities for festivals to make money is food and drink. Check the event's policies on bringing in your own food, and if possible try to pack at least one meal a day. Avoid foods that need ice to stay cold. The first day you arrive, scope out the vendors and see if certain meal times are more expensive than others.

This next tip can save you a lot of money -- bring your own water bottle. It's important to stay hydrated, especially in warm, dry climates, and despite the sky-high costs of bottled water they sell, festivals are usually required to provide a free source of clean water. You might have to do a bit of searching to find it, but it will be worth it.

Bring your own supplies:

There are a few things you're definitely going to want throughout a music festival, so make sure you don't pay more than you have to. Bring sunscreen, sunglasses or a hat to shield you from the sun. Pack a few things in case of inclement weather, like a rain jacket and waterproof bag to protect electronics. Include a few band aids and first aid items -- just in case.

Cash is king:

Avoid high ATM fees by bringing any cash with you to a festival. This is a good way to limit your own spending as well.

Shop late:

If you're looking for a few souvenirs, wait until the last possible day to buy. That's when vendors will try to offload merchandise (especially anything with a date on it), so you're much more likely to get something at a discount.

Earn your ticket:

Last but not least, there's one very inexpensive way to attend a music festival: volunteer. You'll get in for free, and can still hear a lot of great music throughout the event. You might even find it makes for a richer experience.

Jon Lal is the founder of coupons and cash back website BeFrugal.com, which saves shoppers an average of $27 per order thanks to coupons plus an average of 7 percent cash back at more than 3,000 stores.

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