From spring, all the way through late fall, we're all eager to get outside and go Do All The Things. For me and most of my close friends, that means Renaissance Festivals, camping trips with 200+ other people, bike rallies, and outdoor music festivals like Rocklahoma.
While there are some significant differences in an outdoor event of any size when you compare it to an indoor event like a convention, there are a lot of similarities as well.
- While you won't be looking for fire exits when you're outdoors, be mindful of where choke points happen to be, and where the crowd exits from the venue.
- Keep an eye out for emergency personnel such as police, security, EMTs, and fire & rescue. They usually have very distinctive markings to keep them easily identifiable in the crowd. Move out of their way if you happen to see them coming your way.
- Like indoor locations, knowing where the bathrooms and water fountains are located is crucial. Large outdoor events are likely to have multiple sets of Port-a-Johns posted near the entrances, exits, and scattered in other locations at the site. It's good to know where more than one set is located, in case lines are really bad.
- If you are going to an event like a Renaissance Faire where animals are allowed on a leash, find out where the pet comfort station is located. Often these pet stations include communal watering dishes, faucets, and shade so that you can rest and water your furbaby as needed. Remember, Fido can get over heated and exhausted just like you can!
These are going to be almost a direct repeat of the things that Erin pointed out.
- Bring a water bottle with you. Concession prices are always outrageous, and you don't want to be paying upwards of $3.50 a bottle for a bottle of water or a soda every couple of hours. Refill your bottle every chance you get.
- If the venue allows outside food and drink (some don't), then pack snacks and/or a cooler with your lunch. Once you see the prices at the food vendors, you'll be really happy that you did.
- If the venue won't allow you to bring in a cooler with your snackage and meals, stick a few granola bars or other easily carried, small space-taking snacks in your backpack or purse that gets carried with you. Even in full Renfair costuming with a belt pouch rather than a full pack, my pouch is large enough to carry a couple of granola bars along with everything else that's "necessary" to have with me.
- Breath Mints - oh yes, please, bring breath mints. If you don't use them for your own sake, to get rid of that weird funky taste of dust out of your mouth -- please, for the love of all that's holy and the continued good will of your fellow event goers -- use them for OUR benefit!
- Comfortable Shoes. While this isn't possible for those of us who fall into the "serious Cosplayer/Reenactor/Faire Goer" role that are attempting to exactly duplicate a particular look (trust me, sack boots are not comfortable - not under any circumstances, not ever), it is something that I would strongly recommend for those who are casual attendees, or those going to something like a bike rally or music festival. If you forgo making a fashion statement in order to not feel like cutting your feet off at the ankles at the end of the day, your feet will thank you.
- Non-constricting Clothing. Obviously if you're someone like me, who wears period appropriate costuming from the skin out, even when its 110° F in the shade in the middle of July in Texas, including all the tight fiddly bits that give a woman that perfect silhouette in costume, then this isn't an option. If you're a normal person with a functioning brain, who isn't into suffering for their art, then loose, comfortable clothing that is weather appropriate for the venue is definitely your best bet.
Again, most of this is simply a reiteration on what Erin posted, with a few minor variations.
- Keeping in touch is going to be a bugbear. Wifi is probably not going to be available at all, although since we're talking about outdoor venues, you should still get a phone signal --provided the event isn't in a location where there's no phone coverage to begin with!
- Walkie-Talkies can be a workable solution, provided you are ultra careful to check the frequencies you're using. Festival officials at many outdoor events and venues use walkie-talkies for official communications, calling for emergency personnel, and simply coordinating the event. Unless you have no cell service at all, its best to forgo walkie-talkies at outdoor venues.
- Pre-arranged check-in times and places. Agree before you split up on where you'll go if you can't reach each other via phone. Agree on what time you'll meet up for meals or specific festival highlights, and where you'll expect to wait for the rest of your party -- whether that be at the car, near a specific set of toilets, next to the jousting field, or in front of a particular merchant's stall.
Health and Hygiene
Go read what Erin wrote. Then read it again. Then think about how unpleasant you would find it, having to stand or sit next to someone you don't know, for 3 hours at a concert, if you can smell them from 3 feet away. Show the same consideration to everyone else that you expect to have shown to you, and you should be fine.