I don’t know about you, but music festivals are one of my favorite things.
I get to dress up in fun outfits, dance my heart out, drink overpriced beer, and listen to incredible music with my favorite people. However, having type 1 diabetes adds an entirely new element to music festival weekends. What is my sugar? Am I drunk or low? Where’s the nearest water station? There’s always something to worry about in the midst of a weekend where you should only be having fun.
I went to my first music festival in 2014. It was HARD’s Day of the Dead in Pomona, CA. I was nervous about having to carry a lot of things with me, how many snacks to bring, and what would happen if security thought it was weird that I was entering the grounds with a bunch of needles, ya know, normal things.
Over the years, I finally perfected my festival gameplan and how to navigate a busy music festival weekend with diabetes. After attending my third Life Is Beautiful Art & Music Festival in Las Vegas this past weekend, I figured it was time to share.
Alright So Here’s the Gameplan:
- First of all, get your sh*t together, literally. Make sure you have your insulin, your snacks, your wallet, your chapstick, some water, etc. Double check these items before you leave your house.
- Make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes. As diabetics, it’s very important that we take care of our feet so that we can keep them forever. (more on this later lol) Dancing and walking for 12 hours will destroy them. I’m literally icing my feet from this past weekend as I type this, even though I wore grandma sneakers.
- Have your phone charged. Set your phone to low power mode and airplane mode when you’re not using it. This will help you conserve battery throughout the day, and save you when you need to uber home later. I also set my lock screen to display the music schedule for the day to cut down on having to pull it up every 5 minutes.
- Please remember: You are ALWAYS allowed to have your medications and snacks with you. If any security guard gives you a hard time, ask to speak to the medical staff for entry. You do not have to check your medications anywhere, you are allowed to have them with you at all times. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise.
- Know where the medical tents are. Just better to be safe than sorry.
- Make sure you always have water with you to stay hydrated and help with random high blood sugars.
- Take time for blood sugar testing! A CGM (continuous glucose monitor) is IDEAL for music festivals to cut back on testing, but if you don’t have one be sure to test every few hours. It’s easy to not feel your sugar dropping when you’re hot, drunk, and dehydrated.
- Eat something! I feel like this is an obvious bullet point, but it’s important. Plus, music festivals pride themselves on having delicious food so you might as well indulge.
- Take your ‘diabesties’ (diabetes bestie, duh) along for the ride. No one knows how we work like a fellow diabetic. Also, they have you covered in case you run out of low snacks.
Well, that’s the gist of my game plan. Basically, the plan is to survive. In order to allow my gameplan to be executed properly, I take these essentials along for the ride:
And Here Are My Essentials:
Backpack / Fannypack
Unfortunately, having type 1 diabetes comes with literally having a lot of baggage due to all the things we need to have with us in case of emergency (and just overall wellbeing), so they might as well be cute.
Here are some of my favorite options for things to carry your freakin’ stuff in:
Cooling Case for Insulin
So to be honest, this isn’t something that I normally have with me. I use pens, and I haven’t noticed a difference in my insulin if I carry it at room temperature. However, insulin should generally be stored in a cool place, and walking around a music festival in 100-degree weather isn’t really a great idea. These are perfect and small options to use at events.
Insulin + Meter + CGM + Glucagon
Obviously, bring your insulin to the festival. Keep it secure and tucked away like the little baby child it is. I also definitely recommend wearing a CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor) during the festival for easy access to your numbers. This is convenient when you are gyrating in the crowd, running to catch a set, or double fisting your drinks. I also always make sure to have my glucose meter with me just in case I am having issues with my CGM and need a backup solution to check my blood sugar. Another good idea is to keep your glucagon on you for absolute emergencies.
Low Emergency Snacks
Besides ya know, insulin, the most important thing to carry with you around a music festival is emergency snacks. These are the snacks that save your life when you’re dancing and feel like your sugar is dropping. I always keep the same things on me: juice boxes, fruit snacks, and glucose tablets. Always stock up on the sleeves of glucose tabs beforehand. If I tear into one of the glucose sleeves, I always bring a new sleeve in the next day, to cut back on the suspicious looks I get from security while bringing large chalky tablets into a festival (sometimes they are just weird about open things so I do the same thing with chapsticks and packs of gum).
Along with low snacks, sometimes it’s smart to bring granola bars for those times when you get hangry and all the food lines are 5 miles long. These are lifesavers when you need substance to keep your sugars stable, and don’t want to spend an arm and a leg at the food tents. As mentioned above, we are allowed to have snacks with us so you might as well use them for a meal and save money at the same time.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to wear a medical alert on you. Whether it be a necklace, bracelet, ID card, whatever. If you happen to need medical attention, this lets the staff understand what’s going on right away.
So you can get a cheap medical alert option at your local drug store, and tbh they don’t usually look cute, or you can get them made at cute new businesses popping up all over the place. I got my medical alert bracelet custom made from a jeweler in town years ago, but I want to look into getting a new one. When I find a website that makes cute and dainty medical alerts, I will create a blog post about it. But until then, please use this sad basic medical alert option below.
Reusable Water Bottle
What happens if your sugar goes high and the water lines are too long?! Well reach down and grab your reusable water bottle and take a sip! This also saves you a lot of money on waters, when most festivals offer free water refill stations. Just remember to bring it into the festival empty and keep it filled for those sneaky highs.
Also bring your ID and some money for food, beverages, and emergencies.
Above all, the most important thing (and the one your mom would probably suggest) is to have fun! Live a little, and celebrate the fact that you are alive and well. Some days are tough when diabetes doesn’t seem to let up, but these music festival weekends are here for us to celebrate the good days, the good sugars, the awesome carb counting, and feeling like we can conquer whatever life throws at us.
See ya on the dancefloor.