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For some of us, the idea of going to a music festival solo is our worst nightmare. Who would we dance with? Would it be the same without a gang of mates to camp with? The truth is, in today’s society, we are constantly surrounded by people and of us never spend any time on our own. But how are we supposed to know who we really are when we’re constantly defined by the people we surround ourselves with? Music festivals are one of the few places that offer total escapism to be genuinely ourselves and meet likeminded souls. So it actually would be the perfect place to dive into solo life and make new connections along the way.

I’ll hold my hands up and admit, before this month, I had never been to a music festival alone despite travelling the world solo. I had always previously made plans to meet friends or had arrived with a group of mates. However, last year after seeing all the incredible photos and videos of Envision Festival in Costa Rica, I knew I had to make sure I was at the 10 year anniversary celebration in 2020. Before I had even booked my trip to Central and South America, I had booked my festival ticket and for the first time ever, I didn’t invite anyone I knew to join me.

Envision Festival crowd at beach for sunset, Uvita

Why did I go to a music festival alone?

You guys all know I’m a pretty independent woman, but after a pretty tough year last year, I really wanted to remind myself of why I love being on my own. Solo travel has done so much for me over the years and has really rescued me in so many ways. My love of music festivals is clear from the countless events I’ve attended over the years and I love nothing more than losing myself in the creativity and music of a four day event. So it seemed a perfect combination to spend time in a country I’ve always dreamed of visiting and to get to go to such an epic event.

Absolutely Lucy at beach for sunset, Envision Festival, wearing shorts and silver top

What was it like to go to a music festival alone?

What is Envision Festival like?

Envision Festival is a explosion of creativity, freethinking, yoga and arts mixed with a top line-up of international electronic DJs. Nestled between the Costa Rican beach and jungle, it’s bursting with energy and love, and welcomes everyone, no matter where they come from, or where they’ve been. It’s the most diverse festival I have ever attended, with people from all over the world, and brings a real magic to the universe. Expect total immersion in music, art, yoga, surfing, incredible talks and inspiring workshops. The festival is suitable for families and has a real culture of long-time festival goers who have supported the event from day 1. This year Envision celebrated its 10-year anniversary with the biggest and best yet event, which spanned from 4-7 days and beyond.

Where did I stay?

Knowing some people who attended the festival last year and camped, I was pre-warned about the crazy humidity and heat in Uvita. So I decided to book accommodation at nearby Yubarta Lodge. It offers private rooms, dorms and air conditioning, plus a swimming pool, kitchen and chill out areas just a 7 minute drive from the festival entrance. I was really glad to have booked accommodation – it meant I could cook food for myself, shower and have time away from the festival grounds. Those I knew who camped were stuck with the extra expense of showers (with no water pressure) and food costs inside the festival during the week. I also knew a lot of people who had booked accommodation through Airbnb if they had larger groups which is a also a great option.

Luna Stage at night with lasers, Envision music festival

How did I meet people?

This was super easy and I want to reassure anyone who is thinking of going to a festival alone. Before I had even left Nicaragua, I had met loads of people who were travelling to the festival the following week. We all made friends and swapped contact details so we could meet up while at the event. When I arrived in San José and caught the bus to Uvita, I met another load of people on the bus who were also going to the festival. And again, when I arrived at my hostel, it was full of festival-goers who became my main festival crew for the week. It’s so easy to meet people, especially when you are on your own. All it takes is a friendly smile and a love for chatting to like-minded souls.

Check out this article: Tops tips for every solo travel situation

How did I get to/from the festival?

Travel between the festival and the accommodation as super easy and not too expensive thanks to a combination of Uber, taxis and lifts with friends who were driving. The max I was charged was around 10,000c for a late-night taxi back alone which is around £13.

How did I find out where to go?

This one was super easy – I was very impressed with Envision Festival and how well organised it was. From the clear signposting and easy entrance thanks to online tickets and their RFID scanner wristbands for drink/food payments. To the extremely impressive app which gave the full schedule, maps, information about shuttles and even a schedule planner where you could find out more details of each performer and add it to your personal schedule for a reminder on your phone. It was much better than other festivals I have previously attended because not only was it well organised but it was super small at just 7-9,000 people, which meant everything was close by and easy to find.

Envision Festival crew from hostel

10 reasons why you should go to a music festival solo:

Don’t miss out because no-one can come with you

My number one reason and the reason why I decided to travel solo. I could have waited for a friend to decide to come with me, but then I could have been waiting a lifetime. Why should I wait and why should you? Don’t miss out on the festival, or the trip of a lifetime, just because no-one else can afford the time or the money for it.

It’s not as lonely as you think

I didn’t feel lonely once during the festival, before or after it. Being alone doesn’t mean being lonely – there’s a big difference. If anything, being alone gives you the energy, time and space to meet countless other people and it can actually be hard to get time alone!

Meet new people and like-minded souls

If you’re always with a group of mates, how do you expect to meet new people? A festival is the perfect opportunity to meet like-minded souls from around the world and to connect with people. Take the opportunity like I did and you’ll make countless friends for life. I ended up travelling across the country with a group of friends I met at the festival and have planned to meet up with them later on in South America!

Envision Festival Costa Rica, music festival between beach and Jungle, pic of Absolutely Lucy at beach

Experience the festival YOUR way

I know as well as anyone, going to a festival with a group of mates can be lots of fun. But it can also mean having to constantly compromise on which stage you dance at, which acts you see and it can mean not getting to see some of the talks or experience the yoga sessions you want to. But why compromise? You’ve paid a lot of money to be there, so you should be free to do what you most desire. Going solo means you get to experience the talks, the sunsets, the music and anything else entirely solo if you prefer.

Be free to move between groups of friends

The beauty of going to an event solo is that you have no ties to the people you meet. While it can be lovely to meet groups and hang out with them, it can also be nice to go off and do your own thing. So why not take advantage of this and flit between the various groups of friends you meet – join some at a stage when you want to dance, or head for food or yoga with others whenever you fancy. It can be a great way to experience a festival.

Be the person you really are

So many of us spend all of our time surrounded by people – friends, family, partners. It can be difficult to really be yourself, or to truly know yourself. Taking time on your own is an important part of life and getting to know yourself. A festival is the perfect place to really be yourself. To experiment with the person you want to be. Whether that’s musically, spiritually, mentally or in any other capacity.

Festival squad - Envision music festival

Try something new

Whether this is purely going to the festival alone. Or you want to try something completely new to you. While at the festival, I took some time out to attend talks on topics completely new to me. It was amazing to experience these alone. I could really try and further my knowledge without the distraction of new friends, or anyone who wasn’t into it. For those who find doing this intimidating. It can be a great way to release you from any internal judgement as well.

Grow your confidence

If you’re new to solo life, solo travel or solo festivals. Attending a festival alone can be a great introduction to solo life. It’s a less intimidating experience than booking a flight across the world. You can easily go to a festival on home turf. If you’re in need of a boost, why not challenge yourself to try something new? Watch your confidence soar as you make new friends and grow your world.

Work at a festival

Another great way to do it is to score a festival ticket by working at the event. I know loads of people who do this regularly and will work as performers, stage builders, pot washers, bar staff and even masseuses. It means getting a free or discounted ticket in exchange for a few hours work each day. It also means you have a ready made crew of friends on the staff.

 

Envision Festival 2020, music festival solo

Because it could be the start of something incredible

One thing I really love about going to a music festival, is the potential. You meet so many incredible people, experience things that really open your mind to new ways of thinking and living. It’s such a welcoming and inviting space for creativity and developing ideas. Over the years, music festivals have inspired huge changes in my life by educating me on important issues. They have brought me together with wonderful humans who inspire me daily and remain amazing friends several years later. Go to a music festival solo because it could be the making of you and could change your life. You never know what you could be missing out on.

Have you been to a music festival solo? Would you do it? What’s your favourite music festival?

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The silence of being high above the clouds, interspersed with the crackling of the camp fire. Murmurs of disbelief as the group gazed out upon the endless skies and the setting sun. Suddenly the echoing boom of nearby Fuego, demanding our attention as smoke billowed and red hot lava spewed from the nearby volcano. Nearly 4,000m high, it was difficult to tell whether it was the thinning air, or the view that had left us breathless. Here’s why climbing Volcano Acatenango, in Guatemala, was one of my favourite ever travel experiences.

A bit about Volcano Acatenango

One of Guatemala’s highest volcanoes – Acatenango stands at 4,000m high and offers epic views of nearby active volcano Fuego, which erupts every 10-15 minutes. For visitors to Antigua, the cobbled streets and beautiful architecture are already a draw. But for adventurous souls, Acatenango has become an experience that can’t be missed. Now travellers can join a challenging but incredible hike up the volcano for sunrise, a once-in-a-lifetime experience you won’t forget.

Acatenango base camp view of Volcano Fuego erupting under the stars

Why climb the volcano?

Over the last few years, it’s become extremely popular for travellers passing through Antigua to complete the volcano climb. It’s the challenge all the backpackers are talking about from the second you enter Mexico and all the way down to Guatemala. But what an epic experience – to climb a volcano and watch another live volcano erupting from camp, before ascending the summit for sunrise. It’s a journey that has grown in popularity through word of mouth and now having experienced it, I can understand why. Nothing will ever compare to the experience and nothing I’ve ever done before even comes close to the Volcano Acatenango climb.

What’s it really like to do the overnight climb for sunrise?

I won’t lie, it’s a hard climb. But nothing worth doing ever came easy in my opinion. It’s important to not get swept up in the excitement and the hype, and to actually assess whether you are fit enough to do the climb. As the guides say, anyone can do it, but you need mental willpower to keep you going if you start suffering from the altitude. In the weeks leading up to the climb I was struck down with food poisoning and then a cold.

My normally strong, fit and athletic body was wiped out and although I was pretty much better by the time I did the climb, I could tell I was weaker overall. The climb is uphill, steep in places, includes some boulder scrambling near the top and in places the path is covered in volcanic gravel so the surface shifts and slides beneath you.

AFTER THE CLIMB

We had an amazing group and our guide Johnny, was the most patient and knowledgeable we could have asked for. The first day’s hike was hard but he kept us motivated and as a team we made it to base camp. We stopped for a picnic lunch along the way and then spent a breathtaking evening at camp watching the sun set from high above the clouds as nearby Volcano Fuego erupted and spewed lava and smoke from it’s depths. The stars exploded across the night sky and huddled around the camp fire with wine and hot chocolate, we were in awe of their beauty. It was truly nature in her element, and the following morning’s sunrise was no exception.

Acatenango group at the summit

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Acatenango Volcano Trek with Tropicana Hostel

How much does it cost?

The Tropicana trip costs $65 USD which covers all your food, the guide, transport and accommodation at the base camp huts with sleeping bags/beds provided.

How long does it take?

The Acatenango trek takes around 6 hours total – we did 4.5 hours the first day, with a 1 hour ascent to the summit the following morning. You can do the trek in one day if you don’t have two days to spare or don’t fancy the sunrise hike. Or you can also hire a private guide and do the trek overnight from midnight to 6am for sunrise like one guy I met.

However, I would really recommend the two-day trek if you have time. It definitely adds to the experience and takes all time pressure off so you can take as long as you need on the ascent.

Three girls watching sunset at Acatenango base camp

Why do the trek with Tropicana?

Before this collaboration was even planned, I knew I was going to do the trek with Tropicana. From as far as Mexico, I was hearing glowing recommendations from those who had already experienced it. And those who hadn’t done it with Tropicana were telling me I should make sure to do it with them and not the company they had used. Why does the company come so highly recommended?

Here’s 5 top reasons:
  1. The trip is budget-friendly but with decent meals included, warm clothes/torches available to hire and cosy huts to sleep in at the top.
  2. You don’t have to sleep in a tent – it’s VERY cold at the top and sleeping in a hut made such a difference for sheltering from the wind.
  3. If you’re staying at Tropicana, or another nearby hostel, it couldn’t be easier! They store your luggage, provide hot showers after the trek & breakfast before you begin!
  4. My favourite reason, because they use local guides and support the local economy and families for whom the trek is the main source of income.
  5. And most importantly, because the two day sunrise hike and seeing Fuego erupting red hot lava at night was beyond incredible.

Absolutely Lucy watching sunset at base camp

What do I need to know before climbing Volcano Acatenango?

Altitude sickness

The actual hike, I loved – the scenery is incredible and I had a fantastic group. However, I really struggled with the altitude. Myself and another girl who had recently had colds both found the thin air made it feel like someone was pressing on our lungs and we couldn’t catch our breath. You never know how altitude will affect your body. I had taken altitude sickness pills beforehand and they definitely helped, but it was still a challenge.

I’m not saying this to scare you – don’t let it put you off! Just be prepared and if you’ve been ill recently, take the time to rest up before the trek. If you’re worried about altitude sickness, take the pills.

What to pack?

Out of any, I think this is the most important question to know the answer to before you take the trip. While the climate in Guatemala is pretty hot and tropical in places. When you get to the south, it is much fresher around Antigua and Lake Atitlan – I found myself wearing jeans and a jacket at night. So you want to be prepared for the colder temperatures when you ascend to 4000m. Luckily, I found myself actually very well prepared as I had already packed for all climates before leaving the UK, so I didn’t have to borrow many clothes. But be aware that you don’t need to take anything with you if you don’t want. If you’re only planning on this one cold weather activity – you can easily hire all the warm clothes you need with Tropicana.

Camp fire, Absolutely Lucy watching volcano erupt + sunset

My clothes packing list:

Hiring clothes from Tropicana

Out of all of these clothes, I just borrowed the gloves, the big waterproof jacket and a head torch. Everything else was stuff I had already packed. Just to stress – I wore ALL of these clothes to the summit. It was probably the most clothes/layers I have ever worn. I really recommend having lots of thin thermal layers. It makes a big difference and also makes it easier to peel off layers as you start the descent. Also, you can do the hike in trainers and it will be fine. I recommend walking boots, I much prefer them as they protect your ankles and offer sturdier support. But please don’t be the idiot who does it in Converse or Vans.

TOP TIP:

Don’t wear light colours or white – you’d be amazed how many people I saw rocking up in all white everything. You WILL get filthy. The volcano is covered in gravel, dirt, mud, sand and you will be climbing. I wore pretty much all black and was glad because it meant none of my clothes were ruined.

Summit, Acatenango Volcano, Absolutely Lucy

What do we eat? Snacks? How much water to take?

You are fed well on the Acatenango trip. We had breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus breakfast the next morning and some snacks/extras thrown in. For those wanting to know specifics – there were vegetarian/vegan options available. I was very impressed with the food, I hadn’t expected it to be as good as it as.

Make sure to take enough water

We were also advised to bring a minimum of 4 litres of water – which was the perfect amount. 2l for day 1, then 1 litre for the summit climb. The other litre was for the descent and the previous evening. I finished my last swig of water on the bus back and felt like it was a perfect amount. You don’t want to carry the weight of any more. Make sure to take snacks with you, it’s good to have a boost while walking. I took the following:

Group at base camp by the fire overlooking volcano

How can I book?

If you’re interested in booking the trip or learning more about the itinerary, you can find full Acatenango Trek details here on the Tropicana website.

Have you climbed a volcano? Would you do it? Would you like to travel to Guatemala?

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