Board games, boots and BSB: how the Billboard crew is surviving the 'Roo.
Billboard has once again invaded Bonnaroo, and this year, we did it in style. A crew of fearless reporters (and a few of thier trusted friends) drove down from the New York area to Manchester, Tenn. in a 10-person recreational vehicle that is practically the size of all of our Brooklyn apartments combined.
To survive the 13-hour drive and four days of festival life, we planned out the essential stops on the way down, the must-have music and the random trinkets that will make festival life oh so easy. No hotel room? No problem. Check out the 15 things you need to make your RV stay at Bonnaroo work for you.
1. Miss Vickie's Potato Chips. We got the 32-pack and have gobbled up about 20 individual bags in a day and a half. Really, any potato chip worth your while is essential for a Bonnaroo RV, but try to mess with Miss Vickie's Sea Salt & Vinegar. Go ahead! You can't do it.
2. A Silly DVD. If you have a TV in your RV, you're going to want to watch something on the ride down or back with your pals, and it shouldn't be too serious -- who wants to watch "The English Patient" at Bonnaroo? The $5 DVD bin at Wal-Mart is extremely clutch here, and that's where we decided to purchase "Mighty Joe Young" instead of a compilation of Jean-Claude Van Damme films. (Also of note: the previous user of our RV left "Pocahontas" in one of the DVD players, which felt like finding a $5 bill on the ground).
3. An Xbox. Want to make the long RV trip go by much more quickly? Bring a gaming console and blast through a few rounds of "Halo" with your fellow RV-ers. Even more than watching a movie, this distraction will make time (as well as a few expletives) fly.
4. A Board Game. We picked up a travel version of "Cranium" on the way down and brought two decks of cards as well. Need to chill out in between bands for a few hours on a hot afternoon? Decamp to the RV for a few rounds of strategic fun, or take the board game into the festival grounds and set up on the sprawling lawn.
5. The Official Bonnaroo Songza Playlist. The Songza streaming app often creates massive playlists for major U.S. festivals, offering an endless shuffle of songs from every artist performing that weekend. The Bonnaroo lineup is always daunting, but listening to this playlist on the way down to Tennessee helped us circle some new artists on our schedules, as well as give us another excuse to listen to Lionel Richie's "Dancing on the Ceiling."
6. A Guitar, And Someone Who Knows How To Play It. It's Bonnaroo -- you have to jam out at every perceivable opportunity! Our friend Dave brought his Ibanez down, and there has been more than one group sing-along to the Starting Line's "Best Of Me."
7. Cold Cuts. You're going to want to sample all of the wonderful food inside the festival, but picking up some ham, turkey, roast beef and multi-grain bread is the best way to wolf down a filling lunch while saving some cash. Be smarter than we were, and pick up some lettuce and tomato, too.
8. Pillows, Blankets, Towels and Flip-Flops. All pretty obvious, but it does get surprisingly chilly at night when the sun goes down. And you don't want to be the only one in the group who forgot their sandals, and has to man the showers barefoot. Bonnaroo is great, but whatever gunk lurks on the floors of those communal showers is the stuff of nightmares.
9. Extra Bag For Merchandise. If your bags are stuffed to the brim like ours are, bring along an empty backpack for t-shirts, sunglasses, posters and whatever other merch you can get your hands on. Your creation from the Build A Drum kiosk might not fit, but most things can squeeze into a small bag.
10. Raincoat and Boots. Fingers crossed that you won't need it, but if thunderstorms are in the forecast (like they are this year), you'll turn into a mud monster without proper rain gear.
11. A Belly Full of Cracker Barrel. If you don't stop at a Cracker Barrel for dinner on the way to Bonnaroo, you're doing it wrong. Endless cornbread and biscuits. Sweet tea. Fried chicken salads with deviled eggs! The country chain is an indispensable part of the Bonnaroo experience.
12. A Weird Knickknack From Cracker Barrel. Pick up a strange salt-and-pepper shaker, a calendar where each month is a different barn, old-timey candy or anything that has the "Duck Dynasty" brand associated with it. Because, hey, why not?
13. Late-Night Driving Music. A trip to Bonnaroo in an RV will inevitably take longer than you plan, since you can't really cruise on the highway faster than 65 mph with a gargantuan vehicle. Make sure you have tunes that will keep you awake if you need to plow through the wee hours -- for us, it was a lovely combination of Backstreet Boys and DMX albums.
14. Extra Phone Chargers. Make no mistake: your phone charger will get misplaced in your Bonnaroo RV at some point. Have a backup plan by bringing along another cord or charger, because you don't want to separate from your Bonnaroo pals with a dead cell phone.
15. A Working Toilet. If your RV toilet malfunctions at Bonnaroo and you're forced to test out the porta-potties, may God have mercy on your soul. Porta-potties at festivals are a necessary evil, but the Bonnaroo toilets are especially hair-raising. Take care of your RV toilet, and it will take care of you.