Alice-Azania Jarvis: Misplaced tent thwarts festival budget plan

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The Independent Online

I survived! I'm back from V Festival, a little sunburned, a little tired, but still, essentially, alive. And my bank balance doesn't look too bad either. In fact, during the entire time I was inside the festival, I managed – almost – to avoid spending entirely. I bought one coffee, three bottles of not inexpensive diet coke, some chips and a chocolate bar. Not the healthiest of weekends, admittedly, but not the most expensive, either.

Well. That's if we're talking about the weekend itself. Once inside the threshold of Hylands Park, my wallet was firmly zipped. Too bad it wasn't on the way there. In my frenzy of preparation and pre-purchase, I fear I may have gone a little too far. All those cereal bars? A wise buy – without them I would have clocked a far bigger bill. The extra hand sanitizer and baby wipes? Luxuries, but much appreciated. But really: two disposable cameras? A travel torch? Dry shampoo, earplugs and an eye mask? Not necessary. True, the cameras were BOGOF and the torch reduced to clear – but, if you don't need it in the first place, nothing is so cheap it still qualifies as a deal.

It didn't help, of course, that my boyfriend managed to lose his tent – on the day of the festival. I was awoken by a panicked voice on the other end of my mobile: "Er, just checking you've got my tent, right?" Of course I didn't (why would I?). After a good half-hour dressing-down from me, he was dispatched to sort out the situation. A last-minute dash to Argos yielded one polka dot pop-up tent – but at a cost of £30. Then there was the train fare there, the taxi in between station and the festival site. Before you know it, you're looking at a bill sitting around the £50 mark.

Still, I maintain you can do festivals on the cheap. After all, I almost got it right. And really: it could have been worse. I know someone who dropped £200 on festival spending, just like that. So I'm approaching my next challenge with a positive attitude. As you read this, I'll be setting up camp at Reading festival, unpacking my (new) tent, both my cameras, and – hopefully – enough non-perishable food and drink to see me through the weekend. I've got tins, bottles, bars and Tupperwares. True, I'll still have my travel expenses to contend with – but at least this time I've got a group of four to share the taxi fare. And really, to be present at Reading's 50th anniversary, that's a price I'm prepared to pay.

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