Before you go
Preparation is the key to having a brilliant time at a festival.
People you’re going with
Do your friends know you have diabetes? It’s a good idea to explain to them a bit about hypos and to let them know that you shouldn’t be left on your own if you’re ill or drunk. They should also know that you’ll need to eat and test your blood glucose regularly, and how you take your insulin. It’s easier to chat about this before you go – if your friends know what’s involved, it means they can help you with what you need to do on-site.
You might worry you’re giving them a lot of work or expecting them to look after you – you’re really not! When you go to a festival together, you need to look out for each other’s safety, and your health is part of that. It’s better to give them a heads-up beforehand than risk everyone being scared, anxious and panicking if anything does happen!
People back home
Phone signals can be poor at festival venues, and places to charge your phone are usually busy. Make sure parents, partners, and anyone else who might get worried know that you might not be able to get in touch while you’re away. Ensure that you have a plan to get home that will work even if you can’t get in touch with anyone, and make sure people know when to expect you home.
Check you have enough insulin pens/cartridges, pen needles, glucose strips and that you have your glucose meter and a way to check for ketones. Remember your hypo treatment and carb snacks – and make sure these are kept separate from any food you want to share with your friends. You’ll probably want to bring your own food, as what’s on-site is usually lacking in information on carb content, not to mention expensive.
You might also want to get a letter from your doctor confirming your diabetes, just in case you’re challenged by a member of security at the festival. This should mention that you need to carry needles/syringes, but should also mention hypo treatment and snacks, as some places might have an issue with people bringing in food or drinks from outside.
Always carry ID and emergency contact details on your person, in case anything happens – this should go for everyone, not just those with diabetes. You should also be prepared to look out for everyone in your group – when you’re planning what you want to see, try to make sure nobody is left doing something on their own, and always agree on a meeting point to use if you get separated.
Theft is often a problem at festivals, and the last thing you want is for the things you need to stay healthy going missing so it’s not a good idea to leave your supplies in your tent. The safest thing is to carry them with you. As an alternative, most festivals have lockers for hire at a fairly reasonable rate and many lockers even come with facilities to charge your phone. If you’re going down this route though, be aware that lockers can get very hot, and so you might want to bring a cooling bag for your insulin.
Toilets and showers are going to be busy and might not be in the best condition, so it’s probably a good idea to bring your own hygiene wipes and toilet roll. Also, remember antiseptic wipes to prep before you inject.
Make sure your footwear is comfortable as you’ll be walking and standing a lot. Always bring shoes or boots you’ve worn for a long time before, and don’t forget blister plasters and enough socks that you don’t have to worry about wet feet. Also, prepare for all weathers – it could be hot and sunny, or miserable and rainy, but you still want to make the most of your time.