Top tips for surviving burning man

So you’ve bought a ticket and think you’re ready to experience the magic that is Burning Man? Fantastic! I’m going to give you my best tips and must know’s to ensure you have the best week of your life! This list is handy for virgins and repeat burners too. If you’re looking for packing tips, I’ve made a separate blog with all the essentials you need for a great week on the playa.

1. Get familiar with the 10 principals of Burning Man!

I will be going into some of them a bit here, but before you get dusty you should have read the survival guide you got with your tickets. If you don’t have one, you can find one and more info here.

The principals are: Radical Inclusion, Gifting, Decommodification, Radical Self-reliance, Radical Self-expression, Communal Effort, Civic Responsibility, Leaving No Trace, Participation & Immediacy. As mentioned, for in depth look into each one please follow the link above.

Temple Burning Man 2018
The Temple Burning Man 2018

2. Ensure you have enough water, food & everything you need for the week!

This is part of the radical self reliance principal, but basically you must have enough water, food & supplies for the week. For water, you want to calculate enough to include drinking and washing up. Usually that’s about 6 litres a day (2-3 for drinking and the rest for cleaning). Pack a first aid kit and stuff to help you set up like tape & zip ties. Bring extra to help out your camp or fellow burners, you never know!

Puppet Burning Man 2017
Puppet Art at Burning Man 2017

3. De MOOP your stuff and keep MOOPY costumes away from Burning Man

MOOP is Matter Out Of Place (or really, rubbish). There are no bins at Burning Man- what you pack in you take out. To make your life easier, be smart with anything you bring in, reduce package waste before you get to the burn. Remove un-needed boxes or wrappers, store stuff in reusable containers and only bring the essentials. And for the love of the playa- please keep any moopy materials away! So no feathers, sequins, GLITTER (yes even biodegradable glitter) and anything else that easily could fall apart and end up on the playa.


Playa dust vending machine
Playa dust vending machine

4. Gifting

I often get asked what’s the best gift at Burning Man. This is very subjective, as it depends on who is receiving the gift. We are a community, so gifting of a broad range of things makes Burning Man so special and unique. If you want to give a physical gift, make it something from the heart. If you want my personal favourite gift, it’s an experience. I will never forget the moments people made my day on the playa as their gift. Our first year, a guy came up to Josh & I and handed us an iPad. He grabbed his ukulele and put on a santa hat. On his iPad were the 10 Principals of Burning Man he had written as a Christmas Carol. I swiped through the lyrics and we all started singing as he strummed his guitar. More people joined and sung loudly in the middle of deep playa at this pop up diner. Afterwards he thanked us and said it was his gift and first time doing it. After a few hugs he disappeared. We were blown away! What experience could you gift to someone at Burning Man?

temple burning man
Our light up book gift and the Temple, Burning Man 2017

5. Learn how to find your camp

Don’t be like us and get totally lost and unable to find your camp. Our first year, we just went out excited and then realised, we had no orientation of how to get back to our camp. Familiarise yourself with your clock address, and find a stationary art piece (you’ll be surprised how many things move) near your face of the clock. This will help you get back to camp in the middle of the night!

Pirate ship art car burning man
Pirate ship art car Burning Man, 2015

6. Live in the moment

Ok so this one is easier said than done, but once you’ve been to Burning Man, you will totally understand what I mean by this. Burning Man teaches us to really be present and live in the moment. If you want to go look at an art piece, go do it! If you want to rollerskate on the pop up 80’s rollerskate rink, do it in that moment. I can’t tell you how many times we have said “oh we should do that!” when we ride past and never end up going. Or “we should check out that art piece” and then it’s too late and they’ve already burnt it. One of the beautiful things about the burn is that you must be immediate, for it teaches us that there is nothing that exists but this moment.

Word bath burning Man 2015
Word Bath at Burning Man 2015

7. Bike tips!

Buy an electric bike! Josh and I did our first two burns with regular bikes, so let me tell you, having an electric bike is a GAME CHANGER. When you ride potentially 15-20kms a day, dust getting into the bike chains and not to mention the lack of sleep you endure while at the burn, having an electric bike changes the burn. We were lucky enough to have two electric bikes for our third burn and wow- we were blown away! Suddenly we could go out an adventure longer, see more and not be as exhausted. It might not be an option for everyone but if you can invest- it really does make the whole experience that much better. We got ours through Joulvert who do burner specials and even allow you to pick up your bike in Reno. How convenient is that?! Also don’t forget your bike lock, with thousands of bikes it’s easy for people to lose theirs and take yours, so lock it up! Finally, tennis balls help so much on skinny bike stands, get one and cut a hole in it and squeeze it onto your stand so your bike doesn’t fall over. The playa can be soft so you don’t want to mangle your bike by having it fall over.

Joulvert Electric Bike Burning Man
My Joulvert electric bike at Burning Man, 2017

8. Keep snacks in your bike

This one is a simple one, but also a life saver! There’s nothing worse than being deep playa hungry with nothing to eat. Pack some muesli bars and some drinks with sustenance (I like to pre-make a smoothie to leave in a bottle in my bike) so you always have nourishment when you’ve been out exploring for hours. If not, you might be lucky and find some amazing burners who set up a pop up food place, after all the playa does provide!

Burning Man Art
Burning Man Art

9. Carry a MOOP bag

Whats the easiest way to participate and keep Burning Man what it is? Participate and clean up MOOP! If you see something on the Playa that shouldn’t be there, pick it up! Keep a small MOOP bag in your bike for this. If someone litters, tell them thats not ok. There are no bins at Burning Man, it is up to us to take everything we take in back out again. If you find lost property, hand it back to centre camp. Someone will be super thankful you did!

Charlie Unicorn Art Car
Charlie the Unicorn Art Car, 2015

10. Watch a sunrise

I am not a morning person, so learning that you must watch a sunrise on playa made me a little uncomfortable. But you know what, the magic happens outside your comfort zone! There’s something magical about a sunrise at burning man. The dust on the horizon and the sun making its appearance over the mountains while art cars pump amazing music behind you. If you manage to stay awake a few hours after sunrise (7-8am ish) take a ride around the playa. There is no other time you will see it so quiet and empty. I call this the golden hour if you want to enjoy the peace and art with few people around as most have seen the sunrise and gone for a nap.

Sunrise at Burning Man 2016
Sunrise at Burning Man 2016

I hope my tips help you in making your burn the best week of your life.

See you all on the playa! ♥

Olivia and Josh

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