Coachella is a massive event, it doubles the population of Indio annually. Even though this is true, you don't feel it because you are on flat land. The only slight elevation you experience is that little bump in the entrance/exit gates. Just look back when you exit to see the mass exodus of thousands upon thousands behind you. That's crazy so don't get lost.
If you're carpooling, take some time to make a sign that says CARPOOLCHELLA. Every year carloads of people are picked out and given Coachella tickets for life. Yes the chances are small but you and your party may be the lucky winners. People go all out, look out for them. Give yourself plenty of time for parking, you don't want to miss out on the show. Seriously like an hour for traffic, parking, drinking and hiking to the fields. Make sure the sober one takes note of where you parked. All the cars are covered in dust when you make your way back out and there are plenty of horror stories of walking in circles trying to find your car. Parking sucks all the time.
2. Cell Phones
For the most part will not work so don't rely on them completely. You'll get no service, or your text messages will come late it's just what happens when you're in the middle of the desert.
3. Meeting Spot
If you get lost and your phone doesn't work then you'll probably never want to come back. I had a 20 minute feeling of that in 2008 when I lost Carlos from Kraftwerk to M.I.A. I was pregnant and I said I would wait for him 'right here'. Those 20 minutes felt like hours, it was dark, everybody was on crack, phone didn't work and I imagined myself alone all night. Don't let that happen to you. The worst case scenario was 2002. The group I rolled with decided to get hella drunk in the parking lot. There was pissing in between cars, panic attacks during Bjork, lost friends, friends that didn't find car and took a taxi home- it was a mess and no one returned the next day (except me). Make a plan, because it's crazier now.
We've managed to sneak in sandwiches every year but really the food is yummy here. Pizza, garlic fries, Indian, local, BBQ everything is good. Try to time your meals when no one else is eating and when someone you kinda like is playing the stages so you can get your money's worth.
5. Beer Gardens
Coachella makes you feel high without anything in you, trust. But if you must, and it's that important to you then get your drink on. Beers are like 6 dollars, maybe more now. I've been hella swollen from the heat and beer intake and it's not fun so just stick to what you can handle. You don't want to be throwing up in a porto-potty.
6. First Aid Tent
Dr. Paul will let you rest from heat exhaustion, smoke inhalation or over dosing. This is the only place you get free water bottles. Your basic meds (tylenol) go for 50 cents for a dose. If you need them use them. I've been in one once, because I was tired and someone was smoking and a pregnant lady with a contact high is a paranoid one. Awesome staff who take of you to the max. Make a mental note of where they're at.
You'll see the biggest show in force by the Sahara dance tent (Rave tent). We've seen under cover cops take out pot smokers here so be careful. Pretty much the cops are just strolling the fields and directing traffic to get you out. Haven't had issues with them.
We manage to get towards the front by the stage almost always by sticking to the right. We walk around the huge audience and make ourselves close. Last year I was pretty bummed at the Coachella stage because of the lack of energy of the 'fans' surrounding me. They just seem to take up space and stand there waiting for their band to play next. Argh! Or the people that just sit in the middle of a crowd piss me off too.
9. Kids at Coachella
We've been taking our girl to Coachella for 3 years now. She only goes to one day, the day where we feel we could leave early and not miss out on much. We stick to the outdoor theaters mostly and stay away from chusma. We look at all the art and take a stroller to let her rest and be able to sneak in food. It's a good time, just make sure you keep them close to you at all times. I would die if I lost my children here. Ni lo pienses.
10. Ear plugs
Bring them. Last year My Bloody Valentine provided them, you don't even know. Bring your own because every stage is different and it can get loud. Check out the Do-Lab for cooling down and be sure to stroll through the domes and different DJ spots that are not on the main line-up.