A Girl’s Survival Guide: Top Tips for Working at an Overseas Festival

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Photo Credit: Unknown Festival

Working at a festival abroad can be an amazing experience. If you’ve been travelling for a few weeks then working or volunteering at a festival can be a nice little interlude to your trip, may give you the opportunity to earn some money and is a great way to meet new people. During my first solo backpacking trip to Croatia earlier this year, those were exactly my reasons for working at a festival.

I chose to work at Unknown Festival in Rovinj as it fitted in nicely with my backpacking route. Although I didn’t get paid for working, my ticket and accommodation were free which definitely helped me to save some cash. You’ll find that this is the way that most music festivals operate, but not having to shell out a couple of hundred for a ticket is a pretty good deal considering the amount of work you’ll be asked to do. Many festivals also provide a staff camping area so if you’re travelling alone it can be a great way to meet other likeminded people who are in the same boat as you.

I would say that my experience of working at a festival definitely had its good and bad points. I would recommend it to other women and I would consider doing it again, however there are a few things you need to bear in mind before you take the plunge.

Festival Survival Tips

Emma’s Top Tips for Women Thinking of Working at an Overseas Festival

1. The first thing to remember is to do your research. Make sure the festival you’re signing up to is reputable and well-established. It’s worth reading a few reviews, particularly of those who have volunteered at the festival before. The last thing you want to do is to spend money travelling to the festival only to find it wasn’t what you expected. If you decide to go for it, make sure you print out copies of all your confirmation emails so they know who you are upon arrival.

2. It’s also important to read the terms and conditions of your work contract thoroughly. Is your accommodation included? How many shifts will you be expected to work? What will your job entail? One of the downsides to working at a festival is that it’s highly likely you’re going to miss out on seeing some of the big acts you may have been looking forward to. During my festival experience I was expected to do two 10 hour shifts; both of them finished in the early hours of the morning between 3-5am. It was tough watching everyone else having fun while I had to work but it was a necessary evil.

3. If you can, find out what sort of work you will be doing. Your role may include artist liaison, stewarding, or even litter picking. You have to be prepared to do whatever job you’re given. One of the things you should make sure you do when you first meet your manager is to find out what safety procedures are in place. Unfortunately, during my first shift I was stood in a car park on my own directing cars until the early hours. As it got dark, I found it very uncomfortable and a little scary. After a complaint to my manager, on my second shift I had a security guard with me. Make sure you’re never placed somewhere on your own, if it’s dark you should have a high visibility jacket, and you should be given the contact number of someone to call in an emergency.

Unknown Festival Croatia

4. Although there are lots of things you have to be careful of when working at a festival, there are also lots of upsides. Aside from the fact that it forms a great bit of work experience to add to your CV, once you’re shifts are done you are free to do what you want! You become just another festival goer, however, unlike everyone else, you probably got your ticket for free. You won’t need to worry about meeting new people because you’re likely to have met loads of people volunteering like you. So, all you need to do is enjoy the music and soak up some sun.

If you love music and love travelling then festival work is a win-win situation. Just make sure you do your research and make your safety a priority. You’re likely to see a fair few drunk and merry music-lovers so make sure you always have someone with you during your shift. Overall, volunteering at a festival is a great idea for girls who are travelling on a budget, but also a fun way to make new friends and experience a festival abroad.

Emma is a 22 year old travel blogger based in the UK. Her passions include writing, photography and, of course, travel! After graduating with a degree in English Lit she went on a backpacking trip around Europe and couldn’t wait to start planning her next trip. Nowadays she tries to get away as much as she can and has recently returned from a trip to Hamburg. When she’s not making travel plans she loves visiting the galleries and museums as well as indulging in her vintage-clothing addiction in the local second hand shops! Through her writing she hopes to inspire people to get away and see the world and shares her own experiences and travel tips on her website www.inspiring-travel.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @Emma_090391.

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What all the girls are saying:

  1. I have never heard about volunteering at a music festival before. Don’t think they have the concept here in Turkey, however wish they did!

  2. Jennifer says:

    Sounds fun! When I was in my twenties, I used to volunteer to work backstage as a runner at concerts. I’d get to see the concerts for free and usually met the recording artists. Definitely a great way to experience things when you’re on a budget.

  3. Selina says:

    Great tips, thanks!

    Added you on Twitter so I can read more of your travels :)