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Fyre Festival Debacle and Five Travel Planning Takeaways

fyre money fire
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As my flight cruises high above the California desert, passing near Coachella, I can’t stop thinking (and laughing) about the giant music-festival-turned-dumpster-fire known as the Fyre Festival.

The #fyrefraud was targeted at high net worth Millenials. It was supposed to be a two-weekend “luxury music festival”. Event organizers claimed the location, a private island in the Bahamas, was once owned by Pablo Escobar. High profile fashion models and social media celebrities including Kendall Jenner hyped the event.

Despite the ticket prices ranging from $5,000 to $250,000, the event eventually devolved into chaos. Feral dogs, barely-edible food, and accommodations resembling FEMA tents were woefully unsatisfactory and far less than organizers promised. Some observers have likened the fiasco to the Lord of the FliesInvalid request error occurred..

This event affected people who travel in ways different than most of us. Nonetheless, is there anything we can learn from this episode? Something for us mortals in our everyday travels?

Here are five takeaways for everyone, from the hashtag oblivious to the #blessed among us.

1. Have a backup plan

When making your primary travel arrangements, always have a backup plan. At least, have a way to make a backup plan. This may mean being flexible in changing your travel schedule and having contact information for airlines, tour groups, or your travel agent.

Being able to accept the fact that your itinerary and activities may change and be happy with it is also a plus. Buy travel insurance or refundable destination attraction tickets whenever possible.  And have a contingency plan in case of inclement weather that may affect activities or travel arrangements.

As we’ve previously discussed, ExpertFlyer is a great tool for finding a way to change flights at the last minute.  It is also great to always have more than one strategy for connecting to the internet in a foreign country, just in case.

2. Don’t be a jackass

It is true, discretion is the better part of valor. If you do find yourself in a Fyre-type situation such as this, don’t hope for sympathy from your peers. No one cares about your first world problems when you’ve paid $15,000 for a festival ticket.  Repeat – no one.

Similarly, even on a normal commercial flight, don’t brag about all the A-list celebrities you met in the airline lounge or how great the caviar tastes when served from real endangered white-rhino horn spoons. Schadenfreude is a real thing, don’t bring it upon yourself.

3. Stop doing what social media influencers are paid to tell you to do

Even we have affiliate partnerships (which we will always be upfront about – see the very first sentence at the very beginning of every post we make – the FTC requires it and besides, it’s only right).

Big data is always selling you something. And if you are looking at it online, chances are, someone has paid for you to see it. Think before you buy that at-home laser hair removal system just because Kim Kardashian says it’s great. Hertz is a good rental car company, but OJ Simpson jumping over airport chairs to get to the rental counter didn’t make it that way.

4. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is

Spoiler alert, unicorns don’t really exist. Except at Starbucks.

Magical tents on a Bahamian island you’ve never heard of with no reviews, no advance press from established travel, no development known travel brands? Anything with a made up spelling like Fyre? Really?! Give me a break!

5. Provision appropriately

As with any travel plans, and especially if you’re planning to be away from civilization, be prepared. A bottle of water and a protein bar are travel essentials even if you’re not going to an undeveloped, drug kingpin island rife with stray dogs. If nothing else, you can sell it to the other poor schmucks next to you.


  1. You’re off on the bottom range of ticket prices by a little more than a factor of 10… $450 was base.

    Just figured it was important to be accurate

    1. That may have been the cost for tickets without a flight, transfers, food, accommodations, entertainment, visas, deposits, taxes, fees, bribes, tips, insurance, bail, and other ancillary fees 😉

  2. To some degree travel is always risky, as you are offing paying ahead for services that you can look up reviews for but cannot actually see until you get there. That said, I have to wonder how people thought for a minute this was going to happen at the price points they were saying, and I wonder how many of these people have actually done any serious international traveling. The general thinking seemed to be that people were going to get villas for a couple thousand dollars on a private island all inclusive for two weekends, when similar accommodations at resorts can cost 4-10K A NIGHT at major hotel resorts, without inclusive food or beverages. A large part of that expense, as the either criminal or incompetent organizers of this demonstrated, is the sheer expense of running a hotel up to the standards of a luxury resort with zilch to no infrastructure already existing. Hell, the airplane tickets alone would have eaten up a large part of the various packages and tickets sold.

  3. Haha, you know you’re a frequent traveler when you think of not just bringing an emergency snack but selling it on to the woefully unprepared.

  4. the biggest moral of the story is – don’t be dumb enough to believe those so called “influencers”

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