Tips for All Burners
Before you leave for Burning Man prep your home for reentry as you will be exhausted the day you return. Have your house straightened up and maybe do laundry before you leave. You will appreciate any extra bit of control you have when dealing with regular life.
Put your ticket and early entry pass in a special place, I clip mine to my visor in my car so I can find it right when I pull up to the gate.
In the days before you leave, backup your phone in case it is lost. You might also want to free up some memory for taking pictures.
If anything goes wrong on the Playa, spend 5 minutes trying to correct it and then get over it and move on. There are plenty of other things you could be doing that will make you happy.
Come with no expectations, bring a positive attitude, show understanding when opinions differ, and the week will work out wonderfully.
If you are in your driveway waiting for the last member of your crew to arrive before leaving, take the time to find your jack, spare tire, and tire iron. At 3 AM when you get a flat, this information will be invaluable.
Bring a simple combo bike lock. 4 digit cable locks (see sidebar) are cheap and you can set their combinations.
If you are buying a gadget or some complicated device for the Burn, figure out how it works before you arrive on playa. Once you arrive at the event the last thing you will want to be doing is reading through an instruction manual.
If you are traveling with enough vehicles and trailers to make 8 axels, take a real floor jack (aluminum) and an electric impact wrench with sockets. This investment will save you 45 minutes in the hot sun for each flat tire.
Have a camp bike lock combination. Your friends can freely share that way.
If you are sleeping in an RV, bring 2 sets of sheets. Try not to bring white. Much better than a sleeping bag.
Bring lots of socks. At least 2 pair per day is what I have listed. One for day and one for night.
Don't store expensive tequila within arm's reach of margarita mix.
Bring a dirty clothes bag as all your stuff will get mixed up by end of the week.
Come to Burning Man with curiosity and not expectations.
When you stop in Fernley, fill up with fuel and jam as much ice as you can in your freezer. You will never leave BM with left over ice.
When you park your car and head out for your first day at Burning Man, Be sure to look over your shoulder as you walk away from your camp so you know exactly where you are located. Memorize the closest street sign. Check what camp is on the Esplanade where you need to turn in. Once you are returning from the playa knowing a few landmarks will be quite valuable.
Lear how to triangulate your position while on the Playa using Center Camp, The Man, The Temple, and the lanterns that light 3:00, 6:00, and 9:00. It’s easy to get lost out there and find yourself walking in completely the wrong direction. But remember not to be too in control. Getting lost can lead to many magic moments.
Three item checklist not to leave camp without: Goggles, Dust Mask, and a Muggo (muggo meaning a gas station type refillable mug with lid) Dust storms will come without you knowing it and you will be uncomfortable without the first two items. Bars will run out of cups and really, don’t ask a bar for a cup if possible, have a muggo always
If you are headed out to drink at a bar, if possible, pre-fill your muggo with ice. They will be excited that you are not using their supply. When you bring your own ice, you are gifting a cold drink to the last person in line that got ice that day.
Important bar tip - Bring your ID. Most bars now ask for it.
Handi wipes kick ass. Be sure to put them in the trash.
Cover the dash of your car with a blanket as soon as you arrive as it will be too dusty to matter after 10 minutes. Also put your AC on “max” or “recirculate” as that will close off the vents keeping dust out. Try to go in and out of your car as little as possible.
Never plan on DJing anywhere even if you were promised. If someone takes your slot consider the the happiness and memories they create a gift you gave them.
Come up with a 100% rememberable place to put the keys to your car and tell someone else. You will have no clue as to where they are 7 days later. A window lock box like they have at used car lots is pretty amazing for this.
Make a card with your name and phone and camp address. It is great to give to someone you want to find after the burn.
If you take a cool picture of someone somewhere and you really want to give them a copy, write their e-mail in the sand or dust and take a picture of it. A few weeks after the burn you can see their address in numerical order with the photo and send it to them. The other option is to take a video of them right after the picture telling you their contact info
Take a picture of a piece of paper with our camp name, address, your phone number, and your name. If someone finds your camera, they can see who it belongs to and return it.
Is there a bar you visit frequently that you want to show appreciation to? Bring them a bag of ice. Ice is like gold on the Playa and always a welcomed gift at any bar. If you want to donate liquor or mixers to your favorite bar then do it early in the week when it will be useful. After Friday ask them if they want your bottle of peppermint schnapps before dropping it off.
Plan your sleep, not your parties, get at least 6 hours a day however you can fit it in.
When headed out for a night of soundcamp hopping, be sure to bring earplugs. In fact take a handful with you and gift them out to the people in the front row. There are hardly any more playa gifts as valuable as keeping someone from an acute overexposure to sound.
Take care of your feet. The playa will make them crack after a week. If you were in sandals all day, spray them with diluted vinegar
You only have so much dancing in your joints, save some of it for later in the week.
If you are out at 3:00 AM and there is not much going on, consider going to bed rather than looking for that next great thing. Waking up every day at 4 PM causes you to miss a lot of cool stuff. Think to yourself, “Would I rather have and extra hour tonight, or an extra hour in the morning?”
Bring 1/2 the food you think you need. Seriously, you will not eat like you do at home.
If you do make a meal or snack make a little extra. Walking into camp with food to share will be appreciated.
Do you know everything you bring will get dusty? I mean real real dusty. Don’t bring a $1000 video recorder unless you know just what you are doing. Like crazy dust there all the time. Unfortunately BM has not had a dusty year in a while so people are becoming lax. Remember - Dust mask, goggles, muggo….never leave camp without them.
Will call is a bitch. Sometimes there is a long line. If all your friends have paper tickets, your will call ticket will be the only thing standing between them and their Burning Man experience. Try to have a paper ticket but if not be sure to let your companions know ahead of time that there will be a delay.
A basket for your bike is cool - at least one per every 3 bikes to carry muggos and stuff
Have your gloves, boots, dust mask, goggles, and water available right as you pull up. Don't have them buried at the bottom of some crate in the trunk. If you show up and people are working, you will be respected by jumping right in.
Don’t come with unrealistic expectations. You will only leave feeling disappointed and empty. You will not be happy all the time, things will not always work out perfectly, you will miss a favorite DJ playing because you were straightening out a mess in camp, you will lose your friends biking across the playa to what you thought was going to be the best night ever. React well to adversity, treat getting lost as an opportunity to meet new people, disasters are an opportunity to grow, it will often be you who defines these moments.
If there is tension before the event between you and a camp member or spouse, don't think since Burning Man is so much fun the problems will go away. They won't. Burning Man is possibly the most stressful week of your life you may ever have. Do your best to work things out but don't let drama spill over into the rest of camp. Take the person you are having the issue with, grab some water, and go for a walk with them. Everyone (including you) will be better off this way.
Don't be afraid to go to sleep at 11:00 on Friday. It makes for a great Saturday.
Plan nothing! Really...you will be too overwhelmed! Don’t make appointments or plan to meet anyone. There is almost no way you will both make it there. Instead explore, make friends, smile at strangers.
Take care of your surroundings. Pick up trash if you see it.
Whether you do or don’t do drugs, they are at BM. For those who want to indulge in moderation do not...do NOT accept or offer anything to anyone you do not know. And do not...do NOT indulge out in the open. BM is crawling with undercovers (some so undercover, they're naked! For reals) and just looking for an excuse to bust someone. The super hot person with the handcuff belt saying “I would love to stay up with you but I am so tired, can you help?” might just have real cuffs. Offer them a Red Bull.
If there is a camp you fall in love with during the week, stop by at the end of the week and offer 30 minutes of help cleaning up. If you can't help, offer to take home a bag or two of trash for them. By helping you will be a hero to their organization.
Respect the Art Car drivers. Don't jump on, in front of, or hold on to them without being invited by the driver or spotters. Ask nicely for a ride and if they have space they will let you on. Most Art Cars are regulated by how much weight they can carry, not how much floor space there it. If you really, really, really want to get on an art car, ask where they are camped. Stop and help them clean or prep the vehicle and ask when they are leaving next. That is the sure fire way to get a ride. Jumping in front of a vehicle waving your arms only gets people hurt.
As your week in the desert progresses you will become a little tired, a little worn out, a little grumpy. Things that normally wouldn't bother you will start to really piss you off. When you get this way the best thing to do is wait an hour before you make a big deal out of anything bothering you. Always look for the best in all situations with campmates and strive to find the happy angle when things aren't going the way you like them. I always tell people that at BM you will have the best moments of your life and the worst moments of your life, sometimes all in the same day. Just roll with it and have fun living!
Mentally prepare for Exodus - Know you are going to be in line for a long time, take a cooler, good music, and comfort items.
One way you can tell a veteran burner: when they head out for a big night, they bring their sunglasses.
Accurately set the time and date on your camera. It makes piecing the week back together much easier.
Take several storage cards for your camera and keep them in an obvious spot, like an orange box labeled “SD cards”. Label them like 1-5 and change them every couple of days. You will most likely never end up with a full camera while out on the playa and if you lose your camera, you will still have some of your photos stored back at camp.
Over organize before the event. It is a crazy week and things won’t magically come together.
Travel to the event in a vehicle no more than 80% loaded. At the end of the event you will not have the time or the patience to make a complex jigsaw puzzle of gear fit back in your car. You might pack in a dust storm, be asked to take home camp trash, or find you can’t get your tent back into the container you brought it in. Always have extra space available.
If for some reason you find out you can’t go and have to get rid of your tickets, don’t post on your FB page that you have tickets to sell, instead, ask around quietly as who might need them. If you do a post you will have 10 people ask for them and you will make one of them happy but leave nine others wondering why you did not pick them.
Create a “drive home” box and add to it all week. Put in it everything you will want when you get in the car and start your dive. Things, like wallet, extra keys, phone charger, note pad, ipod etc. When it is time to leave it is really handy to have all this stuff together.
There will be spontanous outings by your camp members that you might miss because you were in your tent or visiting a neighbor. Don’t be upset with with your friends for leaving you behind, it is not personal, but rather a consequence of being spontanous. Trying to get everyone involved on every outing is a burden that would kill most quickly made plans.
On your drive home, write down all the things you think you did right and did wrong and review those notes while preparing for your next burn. The thoughts you document immediately after the event will be invaluable in the future.