The best tips for Burning Man

Trip Start Jul 04, 2009
Trip End Sep 06, 2009

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Flag of United States  , California
Wednesday, September 9, 2009

So, you've decided to go to Burning Man.  Here are the best tips I got from people who work for BRC:

- take food for 2 meals a'll eat a LOT less than you think

- take some food that you don't have to do much to prepare, because dust storms suck to cook in
- when making your food list, think of food eaten in the desert/Mediterranean

- think baked (and other) goods with less moisture:  flat bread lasts better than regular bread, roma tomatoes last better than other varieties, etc.

- remember the MOOP (matter out of place or trash) issue:  nuts without shells, popcorn (bad in a wind storm), anything with a peel or a shell will require hauling it out.

- bacon:  partially cook it and then freeze it...that will limit the amount of grease produced in cooking...which is a mess to clean and haul out.

- if you're camping fairly close to Center Camp, don't bring coffee...just go there and get it in the morning...that way you won't wake up your camp making coffee and you'll meet some interesting people and here some very early morning performers

- you can keep food frozen for 3-4 days if packed properly in dry's worth experimenting with before you go to make sure you know how to pack it correctly.  (Dry ice on top: cools -- dry ice on bottom:  freezes -- whatever is closest to the dry ice will freeze anyway, so pack accordingly.

- two words:  Trader Joe's...invaluable resource for Playa food, seriously

- water:  a gallon per day per person is probably enough even with a couple of mini-sun-showers during the week especially if you're drinking sodas, too.

Personal Maintenance:
- there are lots of details on evaporation pools for showers on the Internet, but the thing they don't tell you is they don't really work very well.  Chances are you'll have to haul off the water used after Wednesday.  Consider that before you hit your sun shower.  Maybe dunking your head in a small bucket of water would be just as refreshing

- no crack, blister or cut will heal on the Playa.  Clean the area with hydrogen peroxide, then apply antibiotic ointment daily or twice a day if necessary.

- at night, spray your feet with a solution of vinegar and water to counteract the alkalinity of the Playa dust, dry, then put on moisturizer and clean socks (thus, you'll need at least 2 pairs of socks a day)

- put together a porta-potty kit:  a baggie with spare 1-ply toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and a spare baggie.  You can't put baby wipes or tampons in the porta potties--that's why you need the spare baggie.

- take tons of baby's easier than a sun shower, it's a quick way to clean off the dust

- take tissues, nasal spray and eye drops....if the dust is bad, it could be your salvation.  I never used the spray or drops, but I killed a LOT of kleenex!

- earplugs & eye NEVER know how noisy your neighborhood will be...and the portable parties that are art buses can end up parked outside your tent/vehicle at anytime of the day or night blasting their techno/disco/thunka-thunka-thunka music

- they make fans that use batteries!  (Walmart, Target, almost everywhere has them)

- comfortable'll walk for miles, so make sure your shoes are comfy.

- don't bring glow sticks, they end up being's easy to drop them on the Playa at night and SOMEONE will end up having to pick them up

- DO bring flashlights or flashing lights that you can attach securely to your clothes or your bag.  At night it's easy to become invisible on the Playa to cars and bikes...wear a light that flashes

- don't bring 'gifts''re not expected to as a Virgin and a lot of stuff is considered trash.  Give the gift of picking up MOOP, spending time chatting with people, sharing a beer/meal/snack/etc.

- realize that you're going to get separated from your friends, have trouble finding people, get distracted going from one place to another and that your plans will change on a dime.  Don't get hung up on this...just go with the flow.  We planned to participate in the MiIllion Bunny March, but ended up hanging out with friends having dinner and drinks.  A friend who was going to host drinks bailed on us (and a bunch of others).  Don't get pissed...drift on and see what you run into.

- don't be too naive.  It's a pretty safe environment, but not completely.  Someone who was drunk/drugged/whatever tried to take one of our locked up bikes one afternoon. When everyone is out watching the Burn, some people are ransacking camps for valuables.  Consider who you're taking a drink or other substance a little skeptical and be safe.

- if possible take a bike...the city is a LOT larger than you think and there's a LOT of ground to cover.  A bike with wide tires is better than narrow tires.  A bike lock is important. Lights for night are critical.  You can buy used Playa bikes off Craigslist if you live on the West Coast (I got 2 for $20 from a pregnant Burner that worked great!)

- if there's stuff you need: watch Craigslist, eBay, etc for stuff that other Burners are selling...not everyone can make it every year and people tend to sell stuff within 2 months of Burning Man.

-before you drive away from your home, check to make sure you have your wouldn't believe how many people don't realize they forgot them

- never leave your camp without a bottle of water, your dust mask and's way too easy to get head to the bathroom and someone says: "hey, come with me and check out the most amazing....."  whatever, and soon your camp is far behind, you're out having a good time and thirsty and dry....take an empty cup, too, because otherwise you might have to pass up a cold refreshing mimosa offered by a camp you're walking past.

- don't just hang out at Center Camp ...but don't avoid it, either...there's some great music/performers there...and  COFFEE!

- don't hesitate to talk to people:  old or young half-naked people, young or old stoned people, dancing gay guys, hoola-hooping lesbians, people who look like 'tourists',  whoever...don't let their manner of dress or undress affect your preconceived notion of who they are.  The guy wearing 'tourist cargo shorts' may have just finished setting up an amazing art installation or placing a bunch more porta-potties.  The goth chick may be a corporate lawyer in her 'real' life.  You never know.

- don't expect cell phone access or internet connectivity....sure, sometimes it's there...sometimes it isn't.  Don't depend on it.

And finally, Joe says:  bring socks and a good attitude.  Don't bring a preconceived idea of what Burning Man is, just experience it.

Wow, shoulda asked him would have saved me a WHOLE bunch of typing.

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