Before reading this, I would recommend reading our article titled What Happens At Burning Man. In order to understand why you need to such preparations, you first need to know how Burning Man works. The preparations explained here are based on the information shared in the other article.
Let’s start with the most basic question: How do we find tickets?
1. Burning Man Tickets
In terms of Burning Man preparations, our first order of business was to follow the dates for ticket sales. The tickets go on sale in multiple stages. They try to improve the ticketing system every year, so these stages may vary. Here is how it worked this year–please note that this may be subject to change in the years to come:
1. Directed Group Sale
If I remember correctly, this year they implemented this system for the first time. First, tickets were sold to the camps at Burning Man. This was to give priority to groups who enrich and give life to this place. Some of them have unbelievably big investments such as art cars, facilities, decorations, etc. Before opening sales to the public, camps were offered priority access to tickets in order to ensure they weren’t left out. Apparently 50,000 tickets were sold at this stage, for $425 per ticket + service fees, which adds up to roughly $480.
2. Main Sale
– Tickets go on sale in April for the event to take place at the end of August. – To be able to buy a ticket, first you need to generate a profile for yourself in the Burning Man system. – Each person can buy two tickets at most. – Tickets cost about $480 at this stage as well. – If you plan to arrive by car, you also need to buy a $100 vehicle pass. – They only accept Mastercard and Visa. – In addition, you can only pay once using the same credit card. – This year 23,000 tickets were sold at this stage.
They had warned us: Log into the system the minute sales open, otherwise you won’t be able to find tickets. Despite having been in line at that very minute and having waited in front of the computer screen for three hours, we couldn’t buy tickets, they were all gone. It’s really a matter of milliseconds.
3. The OMG Sale
A bunch of additional tickets were released in July. Those who wished to buy tickets registered in the Burning Man system between July 24-26 and the sale took place on July 31. At this stage the tickets cost $550.
4. Ticket Resale
This was one of the novelties introduced this year: They established a system where people who purchased tickets and weren’t able to attend returned their tickets to Burning Man. Those looking for tickets entered their credit card information in the system and the system automatically matched them with returned tickets on a first-come first-served basis. We came back empty handed from this stage as well.
We couldn’t find tickets in any of these stages. Meanwhile our friend Oktay was also looking for tickets for us through his Burning Man network, but we had no luck. We only had a few weeks left and no hope of finding tickets. We even organized work-related stuff and a trip on those dates. And then one day we woke up to an amazing WhatsApp message from Oktay: One of his friends couldn’t go and offered us the tickets at the original price! This is how we were finally able to find tickets.
As you can see, it is extremely difficult to find tickets. Especially if you don’t have friends in the U.S.
Important : You buy the tickets online, but unfortunately they don’t send them to you digitally; they send them to you via mail. Make sure they are sent to an address where it is unlikely for the tickets to be stolen/lost. Even if you have proof of purchase, you won’t be able to enter without the actual tickets.
Other Ways to Find Tickets
Low Income Tickets – There is a discount ticket program to include people from different income levels. Tickets cost $210 each. You can apply in April. Volunteering – If you volunteer to work for Burning Man for a certain amount of time (60 hours, I think) you get a free ticket.
Black Market – Some people who have no intention of going, buy tickets to sell them on the black market. For instance, a Burner from Berlin whom we met on our flight to the U.S. had paid $1,200 for a ticket. And a friend of his had paid $1,700! This is one of the things that worry Burning Man; they don’t want the tickets themselves to turn into commodities, as decommodification is one of its fundamental principles. Don’t buy tickets off the black market and feed these opportunists. You may actually end up with a fake ticket, which the scanners at the Burning Man entrance won’t recognize.
Well, what other expenses are there? You might want to sit down first because this is only the beginning of the money you are going to spend.
2. The Total Cost of Going to Burning Man
We were very lucky because Burning Man was a friend’s wedding gift to us and he made most of the preparations. We can’t think of a better gift and would like to thank him once again.
– Standard ticket : $450
– Vehicle pass : $100
– Camp fee : Assuming you have read our other article mentioned above, I won’t repeat explaining what the camp fee is. For those who are too lazy to read, let’s just say it’s not rent for your campsite. The cheapest camps cost from $120-150 per person, up to $2,000, depending on the scope and contents of the camp. As for plug-and-play camps, they cost $10,000.
– Accommodation: Camper vans start from $5,000 per week, shiftpods cost $800-1,300, and tents start from $40 and go as high as $1,000.
– Airfare : Burning Man is planned to include the Labor Day weekend, a public holiday in the U.S. So, plane tickets are more expensive than usual. The nearest airport is in Reno, Nevada.
– Car rental & gas
– Car wash : $100
– Outfits : If you plan to rent, they cost about $85. If you plan to buy, there is no limit…
– Food & Drinks : Depends on how much and what you eat. We spent $120 per person on our food for the week.
– Bike: $100
– Gifts: We brought with us 500 evil eye beads from Turkey (the traditional evil eye beads, usually made out of blue glass in the shape of an eye, are believed to protect you from evil and envious eyes and keep negative energy out of your way). We also filled up two water guns with sunscreen to offer to people. This cost about $60. You could do less, or much more.
TOTAL: Usually it costs about $1,300-5,000 per person (excluding airfare).
3. Are You Joining a Theme Camp?
Theme camps are pretty much survival units and your family at Burning Man. You live together, eat together, party together and work together. Joining a camp comes with a lot of benefits and responsibilities. Read about Theme Camps at Burning Man to know what to expect, how things work and how to join them.
Because our friend who invited as to Burning Man has been coming here with the same crew for several years, so we were able to join their camp. This provided us with a shared kitchen and a lounge, a shared meal we cooked together every evening, a bar where we served pickle juice and whiskey as a gift to the community, and a facial mask party but our camp didn’t have an art car.
Of course all of these preparations cost something. On top of the evident cost such as food, there are other less visible costs such as transport and storage of the camp’s items. All costs are summed up and then divided among members. At our camp it cost about $190 per person but at another friends camp it has $2000 per person.
It all depends on the camp to decide the scale of their preparation. Ours was one of the more minimalistic camps. We had 1 shared meal a day with usually something simple like pasta and salad while some camps had 3 shared meals with extensive buffets. We had no generator, thus no fridge. There are camps that prefer to set up a generator, provide a fridge and even air-conditioning. Some bring their own toilets and set up shared showers, set up fresh and wastewater tanks, etc. The larger the package, the more expenses you have.
4. Year-Long Preparations by Camps
You don’t have to join a camp to attend Burning Man. You can come on your own and set up a tent, but it would be much more challenging to survive. Also it is really beautiful to share this experience with the camp members.
If you choose to join a camp, a year-long preparation process awaits you. As you know, at Burning Man the performances and events are organized by participants. It is part of the gifting culture here. So the camps spend a significant amount of time and money on the gifts they will offer to the Burning Man family.
For instance, I think art cars are among the best gifts the camps offer. I think it has a huge impact on making Burning Man a magical place. But it is a very costly gift. Most art cars are modified from vehicles. So they would need to need to invest in a vehicle, a work-shop for the modification and the modification itself. In addition to art cars, camps organize other gifts as well. A gift could be as large as building an ice castle in the middle of the desert, or as simple as teaching chess or braiding someone’s hair.
To generate funds to cover these expenses, camp members organize fundraising activities such as parties, BBQs or garage sales throughout the year. As a member of the camp you are expected to contribute to these events. If you live overseas like us, evidently that’s not possible. But instead, you may offer monetary contribution to your camp or offer to contribute by working more than other members during Burning Man.
In addition to these collective efforts, the following are the preparations you must do on your own:
5. Are You Ready for Burning Man?
Camper Van – Of course, the most comfortable option is staying in a camper van. It has a bathroom and a kitchen, which is a great advantage as it can store all the wastewater. You can use its built-in air conditioning if you bring a generator. 30% of Burning Man participants prefer camper vans, but rental companies tend to exaggerate the rates around the time of Burning Man so rental fees start from $5,000 per week. Our friend Oktay had an Airstream and we had the luxury of taking shelter inside his van when it got too hot.
Shiftpod – The second best alternative is the shiftpod, a huge yurt made of materials produced by NASA. It’s so tall that you can easily stand up inside it and its insulation is a thousand times better compared to a regular tent. It’s super easy to set up, too. We had a shift pod with a huge inflatable bed. It was very comfortable. We highly recommend it.
Tent – The least comfortable and the cheapest option is staying in a regular tent. It would be some what challenging at Burning Man, but it is still a very popular option.
Please note that the nights are pretty cold at the desert. You definitely need a comforter or a good sleeping bag to keep warm.
5.2 Water & Water Containers
– You have to bring all the water you need for drinking, cleaning, etc your very self. It is recommended to bring a gallon (6 liters) of water per person per day, but that wasn’t enough for us. I think you should bring minimum 8 liters of water per person per day.
– Don’t forget that you will need to take back all your wastewater, as well as all unused clean water. Those who don’t have shared showers or wastewater storage systems at their camps usually bring inflatable pools and take showers in them. Some of the water evaporates, but most of it remains. You put the remaining water in jerry cans to take it back home with you. To have warm water for shower, you can leave a jerry can full of water outside, it will warm up in a few hours. So, finding hot water will not be a problem.
– When you leave the camp to go the playa or anywhere, you should take 2-3 liters of water with you. We used a CamelBack, which was very convenient, but you can also use other kinds of water containers.
– You should also have a shatterproof (e.g. metal) cup in your bag at all times. There will be free drinks and beverages served all around you, but you’ll need to bring your own cup.
– If you run out of water while at the playa, no matter how far you are, you must go back to your camp for a refill. The sand at the playa sucks up the water in your body. You may get dehydrated without even realizing it.
– You have to bring all your meals with you. We usually brought easy-to-prepare stuff like instant soups and chili. But aside from that, at almost all times of the day, there are free meals offered at some camp.
– If you are arriving from the direction of SFO, we would recommend buying your food in Reno, the closest major city. This way your food will stay fresh and you can also delay putting ice in the cooler to save yourself sometime.
– If your camp does not have a shared kitchen, you should also bring your own stove, pots, pans and dishwashing equipment.
Important: Usually there is a lot of traffic at the entrance and exit of Burning Man. Sometimes you spend an entire day waiting in line. We suggest adding 2 extra days when planning for your food and water. Make sure to have some food and water ready to consume in the car.
5.4 Cooler & Ice
– 10 days is a long time to live on canned food. So you’ll sometimes want to have some fresh vegetables and fruits to eat. If you fill up a good cooler with ice, it lasts for about 5 days. You can find packs of ice at any supermarket in the U.S. In our experience it works the best to put the ice bags into the cooler unopened. They last a little bit longer this way.
– There are only three things you can buy at Burning Man: Ice, coffee and tea. If your ice melts you can buy new ice.
5.5 Bike / Segway / Scooter / Boosted Board
Black Rock City is an immense place. It might take about 1-2 hours to walk from one end to the other. That’s why everyone brings their own vehicle. Bikes are by far the most common vehicle. Electrical scooters, boosted boards, etc. are also preferred. But you would also need a generator to charge these.
Usually the dust of the playa eats up bikes (and everything else for that matter). So, you need a bike that can survive in the desert: – Beach cruiser is the best option in my experience. Mountain bikes are OK, too, but I wouldn’t prefer them as the sand/dust tends to eat up the mechanism and wiring. – Don’t take a good bike, because you’ll end up destroying it. And don’t take a flimsy bike, because it will break. Burning Man warns to stay away from bikes from department or big box stores, which do not specialize in bikes but sell bikes under their own brand, because in their experience those are the ones that break down most often.
If you are looking to buy, these are the options they recommend: a) A new $100 3-speed beach cruiser. b) A used $100 beach cruiser, mountain bike or electrical scooter that was originally $500 when new. c) Craigslist and Facebook are commonly used to find used bikes.
If you are looking to rent: If you are planning to rent, do it well in advance and secure your ride. Don’t leave it until the last minute and think you’ll figure it out on the way, because places may run out of bikes. Even if you have a reservation for a rental, make sure to get there early so will have options to choose from.
– Reno Bike Project : Reno, the closest major city, is a 2-hour drive from Burning Man. Here you can find second-hand bikes designed for Burning Man. If you buy a new bike, you have to assemble it yourself, like a piece of Ikea furniture, or you can have it sent and assembled here.
– Playa Bike Repair: A camp within Burning Man. They generate funds to rent out bikes and repair bikes at the playa. You can make reservations online. Make your reservations early; because either they run out of places, or their prices skyrocket like last-minute flights.
– Hammer and Cyclery is another organization that rents out bikes and offers free repairs at the playa. If you don’t want to take your bike back with you, you may donate it to them. They have an initiative called More Than a Bicycle and they ship donated bikes to Africa.
– Burner Bikes LLC – An affordable bike rental place located at 12 km from the playa. email@example.com
– Of course, there are also shared bikes at the playa. But it’s so important to have a bike, we don’t recommend leaving it up to chance.
Personalizing Your Bike Your vehicle should also be a part of the performance. You should radically express yourself through your vehicle, just like you do through your outfit. This is why everyone adorns and personalizes their vehicles. Our friend Oktay had arranged and brought our bikes, so we were only able to decorate them with lights. While dressing your bikes with lights is absolutely necessary, I highly recommend you put in the time to decorate your bike more creatively. Lights are a must for your safety, but if you only have lights and nothing else, your bike will look stark naked in the daytime. Believe us, we felt pretty lame out there. 🙂
Also the bikes get mixed up all the time! Personalizing is also useful to prevent that, but you should still write your name on your bike just in case!
I also highly recommend using a bike basket, it’s very handy for carrying your stuff.
Repairs – There are free repair stations at the playa. But you may want to be prepared just in case they run out of materials or your bike needs special parts. It turns out every year 4,000 bikes, which is one in every 18 bikes, break down at the playa.
In addition to the lighting your camp, you should definitely bring lights to illuminate yourself and your bike, otherwise you will definitely get hit by someone. For bikes, I love monkey lights (they’re very cute and even though they’re attached to the wheels they also light the way ahead) but anything works. The more lighting you have, the better. Because you won’t always be on a bike, you should definitely illuminate yourself as well.
I would also recommend accessories like LED gloves, capes or strings. It’s so much fun to play with them in the deep dark desert. Make sure to bring extra batteries! They run out fast!
You may have noticed that people at Burning Man look like they just popped out of a video game or Mad Max. You would feel absolutely bland and boring in your everyday clothes. Outfits are the most essential element of self-expression and people allocate serious amounts of time and money for them.
Finding an outfit – It’s quite easy to find outfits for those who reside in the U.S. There are numerous options available online. You can always find unusual pieces at thrift stores as well.
Living in Turkey, finding clothes for Burning Man was very difficult for us. Sadly, we are not very craftsy, so we could make our own clothes either. If you live in a country where self-expression is very limited, you can order online from the US. Dolls Kill was my favorite; they have great stuff for both women and men.
Things to consider when picking an outfit – The nights are pretty cold and it gets too hot during the daytime. You end up wearing a swimsuit and a fur coat on the same day. Which means, you need two outfits per day, one for hot weather, one for cold. We found that while it is possible to wear the night outfits are several times, daytime outfits are wearable once or twice because you sweat so much throughout the day. Keep this in mind when you are planning for outfits.
There is obviously no limit to self-expression, you can also wander around naked if you want to.
When I was there, I personally wished I had brought more sparkly or illuminated things to wear. That would be my suggestion for both men and women.
Gloves – Your hands get very cold when riding a bike at night. It’s a good idea to wear gloves.
Shoes – Don’t even think about wearing flip flops or sandals because the dust of the playa is unlike anything you have seen before. It is impossible to rinse it off with water. It sticks to your skin and it dries it up. If you walk around in flip flops, there is a good chance that in a few days the skin of your feet will crack and bleed. So, definitely pick shoes that will protect your feet. We chose to wear boots day and night because they are durable. Also make sure to pick something that is easy to put on and take off, otherwise, it will drive you nuts each time you go in and out of your tent.
Backpacks – You will need a backpack to carry the essentials you want to have with you at all times, such as water, sunscreen, lip balm, snacks, goggles, flashlight, and a cup. Take a good look at this list, as you will want to have these things with you at all times.
Burner Bazaar – We flew to San Francisco, took Oktay’s car and drove to Burning Man via Reno. Because most participants arrive from the direction of San Francisco, there are small bazaars set up along the way. Pack all your essentials before you leave, but you can check out these bazaars for the additional fun stuff.
Important – Ethnic outfits would fit the Burning Man atmosphere very well, but appropriating other cultures’ clothes or symbols as accessories may be offensive and perceived as disrespect for that culture.
Costume Theme Days – Costume theme days have emerged over time, but this is not something everyone strictly adheres to. So, don’t stress out if you don’t have something adequate to wear, but it’s fun if you do. New Burners tend to be more into these. Some of the themes may sound “feminine”, but Burning Man is not a gender-normative place, everyone goes along with the themes regardless of gender.
Billion Bunny March – As you can tell from the name, everyone dresses up as bunnies. Tutu Tuesday – On Tuesday, men, women, everyone wears colorful tutus. White Wednesday – Everyone dresses in white.
– If you are driving from the direction of SFO, your safest bet is to fill up your tank at the gas station in Fernley, which is about a 2-2.5 hour drive to Burning Man. If you can, also fill up an extra container. There’s also a closer gas station in Nixon, but it’s not always open. If it is open, fill up your tank there as well.
– The reason we insist on filling up the tank whenever you get a chance is that the heavy traffic at the Burning Man entrance and exit eats up the gas. Entering/exiting the area alone may take up to 12 hours.
5.9 Get Ready for the Sandstorm
The dust is unavoidable. Sometimes the storms get so bad that you can’t see beyond your nose. You should bring a pair of goggles and a scarf to wrap around your face. The playa dust contains hazardous, cancerogenic substances. When storms break out, it’s a good idea to wear a carbon filter mask. We bought ours on Amazon. I’d say pack two per person.
5.10 Personal Care
The sun and the dust are your biggest enemies at the playa. Together they really dry up your skin. The dust is really weird, it doesn’t come off with wet wipes or water. Vinegar is the most effective solution. It is recommended to pour some vinegar into the box of wet wipes to clean both your body and your stuff. If you have shower facilities, soap water also helps.
All in all, your skin will get very dry. You should apply lip balms and moisturizers every day. Also, make sure to wear a hat and lots of sunscreen.
5.11 There is No Cell Phone Reception
Before you arrive notify your office, tell your mom and dad: THERE IS NO CELL PHONE RECEPTION AT BURNING MAN!
In the previous years, they used to set up base stations and the cellular network worked just fine. I guess they no longer do that to make sure people stay in the moment. This is actually very liberating. You will feel as light as a feather, but you should take care of all your communication needs before you arrive.
In case of an emergency, go to Burning Man staff, they have Internet for certain staff members. They will help you out. Your other option is to exit Burning Man and get away to a 10-20 minute distance, where you’ll have reception again. But this year they were charhing $20 per person for each entry and exits to avoid unnecessary traffic with people going in and out just to post stuff on social media.
5.12 Download “Time to Burn” Before You Arrive
They give you an booklet upon entry. This booklet usually covers the major events such as “sunrise set at Mayan Warrior.” But you probably won’t find places that give out food and drinks in there. The Burning Man app is the most comprehensive source of information, but because there is no Internet inside, you should download it on your phone before you arrive.
Rake – When you leave Burning Man, you are supposed to remove all MOOP from your campsite, including even the tiniest piece of glitter. To do that, you first rake the sand, sort out the stones and pebbles, and then you inspect them to see whether there is anything else among them. Everyone has rakes, you can easily borrow one, but it takes forever for your turn to come! Bringing along the widest rake you can find will save you a lot of time. You will get done as soon as possible and be on your way to avoid the traffic.
Lots and lots of XXL size trash bags.
Gorilla tape – the cure for all your problems.
Write your name and camp address on all your stuff to make sure they don’t get lost. If you lose them, they magically find their way back to you! Burning Man also recommends setting your name and camp address as your phone’s wallpaper. Clever thing to do.
Where Is Burning Man At and How to Get There
Where Do We Fly To?
Black Rock City (BRC) – Where Burning Man takes place. It has a private temporary airport set up, but there are no international flights. The information for local flights can be found here.
Reno – The closest major city, about a 2-hour drive from BRC. There is an airport here (Reno -Tahoe). There are no international flights, but you can easily have connecting flights via other cities across the U.S
You can rent a car in Reno to drive to BRC, or you may take the Burner Express.
San Francisco (SFO) – SFO is the closest international airport to BRC. We chose to fly here. From there you can get to BRC via the Burner Express or your private vehicle.
Buses from San Francisco and Reno to Burning Man are pretty expensive. Moreover, it’s impossible to fit into them the tons of stuff that you need to take with you to Burning Man. Consider them only if you have someone who is bringing your stuff for you. The upside is, they directly enter Burning Man without waiting for the long lines forming at the entrance.
Renting a Vehicle or a Camper Van
You need to take a lot of stuff to Burning Man. Because it’s impossible to fit two people and their stuff into a standard passenger vehicle, people usually rent a pick-up truck or a U-Haul truck. Those who have cars with trailers, come with those.
The most comfortable option is the camper van for sure. If you plan to rent a camper van, or any other type of vehicle for that matter, you should be expecting to pay beyond the regular rental fees. Because 1) Burning Man overlaps with Labor Day; 2) The Burning Man dust is unlike any other you have seen before. It has a sticky, lime dust-like quality and it doesn’t come off with water. When they hear you are renting for Burning Man, cleaning fees instantly pile up. Don’t try to hide it when you are renting, because no matter how much you clean up, that dust will reveal itself.
If you are driving to Burning Man, don’t forget to buy a vehicle pass.
Entering Burning Man
The gates open on Sunday. The first few days, you might be facing an extremely long line at the entrance. And by extremely long, I mean waiting for 12-15 hours. So, you should come with your lunch, etc. prepared. They set up a couple of porta potties along the way, but not that many. So use them whenever you see one. While you are waiting, tune in to Burning Man Information Radio (94.5 FM). It provides you with a constant flow of information on waiting times and procedures.
Because we entered the area on Wednesday, we didn’t experience any traffic.
Orientation & Finding Addresses
How do you find your camp, friends, events in a temporary city with a population of 80,000 set up in the middle of the desert? Burning Man has its own address system. For instance, our camp’s address 8.45 & C.
The Man in the center of the playa and the Temple, which I have indicated with a star above, are the two biggest and most visible things at the playa. You draw a mental line that passes through them. The end that extends towards the camps is 6; the other end extending towards deep playa is 12. This way, you can tell directions based on respective slices. The camp area is formed with concentric crescents, which are named alphabetically from A to Z, starting in the middle and progressing outwards. To avoid any miscommunication, people usually spell them out with words, C as in Cupid, E as in Echo, so on and so forth.
Most of the points of reference you see at the playa are mobile. When you stop, try to lock your bike at stationary installations and pay attention to the time slice it is located at.
Burning Man Rituals
The Man Burn
There is no doubt that burning of The Man is the best known Burning Man ritual. It happens on Saturday at the playa, the night before the last day. 70,000-80,000 people form a gigantic circle around it to watch. Artcars form another circle around the people sitting on the ground. As lights and music emanate from all of them, The Man is burned accompanied by fireworks.
The Temple is the most emotional place at Burning Man. A friend of ours had told us he started crying when he entered, and at the time it didn’t make much sense to us. But once I was there, my eyes welled up with tears, too. When you enter the Temple, all of a sudden you leave this joyful atmosphere and face how much pain there is in the world.
This is mostly a place dedicated to loved ones people have lost. People prepare remembrances for those they miss and leave them here. Some made photo collages for lost spouses, some brought their father’s signature hat, and they have written long letters to them. They have expressed how they miss them, their regrets, all that is left unfinished. People also use this place to bury the pain they want to eliminate from their lives. Someone who is fighting with cancer brought the apparatus she has to wear, another whose wife has cheated on him brought her underwear, another who can’t forgive himself for what he did to his loved ones brought their photos and wrote he’s sorry on them, and there are many other examples.
On Sunday, the last day of Burning Man, they burn the Temple to symbolically end all the pain. Once again, all burners make a 70,000-80,000 person circle around it and art cars line up around them. This time there is no music or talking. You listen to the crackling of the wood in the deep silence of the desert. And to those who are softly weeping and sniffling after their loved ones.
The road to “The Man” needs to be illuminated with lanterns every night. In 1993, this turned into a tradition. Every year 1,000 people volunteer to do this. It has a symbolic meaning, just like the Olympic torch. If it is your first time at Burning Man and you don’t know what to volunteer for, this is the right place to start. You can find the information for volunteering here.
Post-Burning Man Decompression
If you get on a plane back right after you leave Burning Man, you will get depressed. So people have come up with rituals to gently ease into real life after Burning Man, which is known as “decompression”.
Before we get into these rituals, let’s quickly talk about the hustle and bustle of leaving BRC: After the burning of the Temple on Sunday evening, Burning Man starts closing down. But the exit traffic begins earlier, on Saturday. Despite hitting the road early Sunday morning, it took us 6.5 hours to get to Reno, which is normally a 2-hour drive. I can’t image how long it look for the people after us. So, we would recommend getting on the road in the early hours of the morning to avoid the exit traffic.
Once you get in line, tune into Burning Man Information Radio (94.5 FM) at once. The expected waiting times they announce will tell you for how long you’ll be waiting in traffic.
Arriving In Reno: The first decompression ritual is staying in one of the burner friendly hotels in Reno. Here is what burner friendly means: – They take all the trash you have brought with you (you can’t just leave that trash anywhere, so this is a huge service that they are providing) when you leave, ?- – They have high-pressure air nozzles at the hotel entrance to remove your dust (true story) – They have burner pool parties.
But of course, the best part is that while you get to enjoy the comforts of returning to civilization like the warm showers and spring mattresses, you are still not completely detached from Burning Man. On the streets, in the hotel, everyone still keeps wearing their Burning Man outfits. People usually stay for two nights, on Monday and Tuesday, but one day was enough for me, because Reno is like a small version of Las Vegas and to be honest I’m not a big fan of these factory-like casino hotels. Nevertheless, it felt so good because Burning Man had kicked my butt. The two most preferred hotels are Grand Sierra Resort and Sands.
Lake Tahoe: The second, and in my opinion much better, decompression ritual is to go to heaven on earth, Lake Tahoe after Reno like we did, or to skip Reno altogether and go there right away after Burning Man. It is so beautiful and serene that many other natural wonders would pale in comparison. You can book a house on Airbnb here. It makes more sense if you are crowded because the houses are quite spacious.
Because we satisfied our need for comfort in Reno, we came here on a day trip but I wished we stayed here longer. It’s a gorgeous place. We couldn’t get enough of swimming in the lake and talking walks in the forest. If you go there, make sure to rent a canoe from Sand Harbor. Secret Bay is the most beautiful bay, but if nudity is not your thing, it may not be the right choice for you.
I guess that’s all the Burning Man advice we have to offer! Happy burn!