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6 Tips for Staying Hydrated at Festivals

Whether a festival involves binge-watching movies (as I recently did at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival), dancing to indie bands all day long or frolicking as the sun comes up, there’s nothing worse than having your festival experience derailed by something as simple—but surprisingly important—as poor hydration.

In fact, one of the top conditions seen in medical tents at summer music festivals worldwide is dehydration. So as you’re getting ready to hit the festival scene in 2017, here are 6 tips to help you make the most of every moment during those long but fun-filled days and nights.

  1. Bring a reusable water bottle or hydration pack. Bringing your own water is key to having the best experience possible. Waiting in long lines and shelling out several dollars for a small bottle of water every time thirst hits is a waste of time, money and plastic. Plus, it can be risky at large, scorching summer events where dehydration can creep up unexpectedly. Fill your water bottle before you go, and keep an eye out for easy water filling stations, which most festivals thankfully have. For all-day or multi-day summertime events, choose a hydration pack in a size that works for you.

  2. Sip early and often. With our attention naturally focused on other fun festival activities, it’s easy to forget to drink until you suddenly feel a pang of thirst. But thirst is a sign you’re actually already a bit dehydrated: according to research from the University of Connecticut as little as 1 % dehydration can be enough to dampen our mood and energy, the polar opposite of what we’re craving from our festival experience. So start early and sip often—begin the day with plenty of water.

  3. Stop drinking 2 hours before your “watching window”. Sprawling, slow-moving bathroom lines are the worst—especially if you’re trying to get back to your seat before the next act starts. If you crave a couple hours of uninterrupted screen (or stage) time, CamelBak Hydration Advisor Doulas Casa, PhD, from the University of Connecticut offers this tip: as a general rule, stop drinking 2 hours beforehand, visit the restroom before you head over to the event itself, and you should be good to go until the encore.

  4. Check your urine. If you’re well hydrated, you should be hitting the restroom about every 1.5 to 2 hours, and your urine should be light yellow in color (think lemonade). If it’s darker (like the color of apple juice), you likely need to drink more.

    Music festivals have you dancing literally all day, burning considerably more calories (which requires more water) and sweating (which dehydrates you even further). Even festivals that don’t involve lots of physical activity, like film fests, can be tough on your body—for example, the Sundance Film Festival takes place at an altitude of 6,000 feet. Checking your urine is a fast and simple way to see where you stand. (Note: if you are using any type of vitamin supplement during the festival, also be aware that certain vitamins, especially in high amounts, can darken the color of urine).

  5. Be strategic about alcohol and caffeine. Anyone who’s ever been to a festival knows an abundance of both is often available to fuel the festival experience. A good tactic is to alternate alcoholic or caffeinated brews with about 12 oz. of water. This offers three benefits: it slows down your pace, offsets the diuretic affect many of these drinks have, and can even help take the sting out of a hangover the next morning.

  6. Pack water-rich fruits, vegetables, and even soups. Whether you’re packing something for yourself, ordering from a restaurant or noshing from a food truck, try to include plenty of water-rich fruits (such as grapes or melons), vegetables (such as tomatoes or leafy greens), and even soups or broths in your festival if you can. According to the Institute of Medicine, roughly 20% of our total water intake during the day comes from foods we eat, helping chip away at your body’s needs beyond what our water bottle or pack delivers. The bonus? Fruits and vegetables are naturally rich sources of the electrolyte potassium: including them can help replace electrolyte losses from sweating.