Ahhh… The sights and smells and sounds of summer are right around the corner. And you know what? We’re totally ready for it.
When I say we’re ready, I mean emotionally. As the girls get older, the schedule during the school year gets more hectic. By this time each year, we’re ready for a much needed reprieve from the constant shuttling from one place to another.
So it’s only natural that we shift gears and schedule all kinds of activities as a family. We travel, play at gaming conventions, visit the local minor-league ball park, cheer on the Cubs, watch the latest blockbuster movie, attend concerts and check out a variety of fairs, events and festivals. Now that I think of it, we maintain a pretty busy schedule, but we do it on our own terms at our own pace.
As difficult as it is, I’m trying my best not to be a helicopter mom. I worry about their safety and well-being, but fully recognize the need to let them find their own way. Over the past few years, we have slowly let loose of the reins and let Madison and Kennedy venture off at events such as Origins Game Fair and Gen Con.
Our only requirement is that they stay together.
Scratch that. We have two requirements. The first is that they stay together and the second is that they be accessible via phone. Not only does it allow me to find them on my iPhone 7 Plus and stay in contact with them, but it also gives them a variety of tools to make the experience better.
Aside from using a high-quality network to search for Pokemon in new locations, there are many more functions on their iPhones that simplify and improve the festival experience. The number of people at an event varies, but even in the smallest of venues it is often difficult to corral a group of friends. In a large crowd? Ugh. According to a recent U.S. Cellular survey, smartphones continue to be an integral part of traveling as nearly four in five consumers use one to assist their travels in some way. That’s good news because it sure makes it easier to locate and communicate with everyone. We use Find My Friends, a free Apple app, to find out where someone is on a map. I may or may not have on occasion loaded the map simply to make sure the girls are on their way to a specified meeting point. Another app, GroupMe, allows users to communicate via group message across device types. While my immediate family and many friends all carry iPhones, we do need to make sure we can adequately communicate with those who have decided to go with a non-Apple device. GroupMe also works on computers and tablets. At large events such as Gen Con, having multiple options to connect is kind of a big deal. If you find yourself in a maze of tents at a festival, use BC Tent Finder app to locate yours. We’ve all been there and the sea of pop-ups all start to look the same after a while.
Let’s be honest and admit that getting friends and family together for an event doesn’t just happen. There is a lot of planning and preparation that goes into getting ready. Selecting restaurants, finding parking, coordinating hotels and more are all activities that make the event process run even smoother. For those who like planning via app, Wunderlist and Packing Pro offer festival participants the ability to organize to-do lists, collaborate on projects, set due dates with reminders, figure out what to pack and more.
Speaking of parking, did you know you can use your iPhone to mark the location of where you parked?! It takes a couple of steps in the settings to enable it, but once set up, your vehicle’s location shows up in the Map app.
If you’re trying to find non-hotel options for lodging, use the Airbnb app to do your searches right from your phone. After all, sometimes the hotel we booked gives us the creeps. Last year we found ourselves in a late night pinch with few options on what we could do to get out of that reservation. Had we checked out the Airbnb app, we might have found a solution that didn’t have us wanting to shower and wash everything we owned after we left the motel.
And finally, let’s talk about money. Between sharing hotel rooms, carpooling, splitting checks at restaurants and the occasional trip for refreshments, exchanging cash isn’t always the best option. (Seriously, do you even carry cash any more?) Your phone is the gateway to easily transferring funds between friends thanks to apps such as Venmo and Google Wallet. If you hope to use these applications, consider adding it into the pre-event planning process so everyone can safely read up on the apps, their security levels and what needs to be done to transfer funds. It’s always better to iron out money concerns in advance because nobody wants to put their friends on the spot when they’re trying to enjoy a festival or event.
Festivals can be crazy, chaotic and sometimes stressful. Find ways to use your smart phone and reliable cellular service to help you relax and make the festival a more enjoyable experience.
What do you find most difficult about attending events and festivals with a group?