I know I won't need the kitchen sink, but what *do* I need?
April 17, 2009 9:31 AM   Subscribe

Visiting London on a budget and confused about logistics. How do I plan and pack?

My spouse and I, who have never been out of the US before and have never attended a music festival that's not close to home, want to visit England for a week this summer and attend one while there.

The plan is to fly cheap, hole up in hostels for a few days and purchase an Oyster card, with which we can get around London and see the sights on a budget. This alone wouldn't require too much packing (I plan on utilizing the one bag idea for this, so that I'm not keeping too much stuff on me at any one time--especially in an unlocked tent). To get to the concert grounds, we'll just hop a train/bus/whatever the day it begins and pitch a tent for the weekend.

We already own a tent, a two-person sleeping bag and an air mattress, but I know that this will be way too much to pack for an overseas flight and a couple of days staying in a hostel. So this question is multifaceted:
  • How do I pack light to accommodate for both halves of the trip (hostel living in the city, and tent-dwelling in the country)? This will be in late July heat and I don't want to haul around a ton of stuff all week.
  • Should I bother bringing outdoor gear for one weekend, or should I buy gear while there? They say "don't bother bringing x because the odds you'll need it are very low", but surely this is a special situation. Where can I buy this stuff in London, and on a budget?
  • Any other relevant advice/tips for a first-timer at both overseas travel and slumming it in a tent for the weekend? I want to maximize the fun and awesome stuff I'll get to do and see, while not spending too much (damn exchange rate!)
posted by theraflu to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Depending on the sleeping bag you have, you won't need a matress to badly. Especially not a full on air mattress, it should be warm enough in summer.
You can pick up a crappy sleeping bag for about £15 in London. (Won't be especially warm but it would save a lot of space in your bag!) You can also get a small tent for similar money.
If it's only a weekend, I doubt you'll need loads of other camping stuff (stove etc?) but I'd say if you feel like you need it, see if you can bring it in your bag because I'd say a stove and stuff would probably take up more of your budget than it's actually worth.
Good call on the oyster card, it's a great way of getting around.
posted by sliderjc at 9:56 AM on April 17, 2009

You won't need any cooking stuff for Truck, there is a decent amount of food available at non-rip-off prices (compared the usual UK festival experience). That said, when you're in the UK buy some snacks to take that will keep for a couple of days in the heat so you don't have to spend too much money on buying food once you're there.

Personally I don't think the needs of hostel staying and the needs of Truck for a couple of days will be vastly different - the only extras for Truck will be a tent, and maybe a self-inflating matress each (they pack up reasonably small and make a big difference on bumpy farm fields). There's decent food, booze, and free water (they even have nice toilets and functioning outdoor sinks & taps) available at Truck so you won't need to bring much extra that you wouldn't use dring the rest of the trip.

As for the "buy it once you're there" you could conceivably grab a cheapo (£13!) dome tent from Argos before you go to Truck.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 10:14 AM on April 17, 2009

Seconding the Argos tent idea - lots of people actually go to festivals and leave the tent there (I think at Glastonbury they are recycled and sent to the 3rd world). Or if you fancy Mefi mail me and I'll lend you a tent and some other camping gear.
posted by laukf at 11:13 AM on April 17, 2009

This will be in late July heat and I don't want to haul around a ton of stuff all week.

Stay in the same hostel all week, so you will only need to haul it three times: once from the plane to the hostel, once from the hostel to the festival and once from the festival to the plane. If you split your gear between the two of you, it doesn't sound like too much.

Even if you buy it all there, stay in the same hostel all the nights you're not camping. You can go anywhere you want to in England as a day trip.
posted by soelo at 11:28 AM on April 17, 2009

It sounds like buying a cheap tent is going to make the most sense logistically and financially, but you could alternatively rent camping gear in London. (In case that link doesn't work, google "camping gear rental london" or check the listings in a budget-oriented travel guidebook.)
posted by Orinda at 3:12 PM on April 17, 2009

laukf beat me to it! I was going to loan you a pair of sleeping bags so you don't have to lug them here. Memail me if you need them. I'm heading to the Anniversary meet-up in New Orleans near those dates so meeting up might be difficult.
posted by Wilder at 10:29 AM on April 18, 2009

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