How to Prepare for Burning Man

Burning Man is one of the biggest yearly events held in the United States. It attracts people from all over the globe. But, Burning Man is not a simple event, in fact, if you want to attend the Burn you will have to prepare for it months in advance.

Burning Man Tickets

The tickets will go on sale starting from February till July. They sell out fast, so be sure to get yours as soon as they become available. Find more information on Burning Man tickets here. 

How do you get to Burning Man?

There are many ways to find the Black Rock Desert, which is about three hours drive from Reno.

Driving is an option, however, there are 60,000+ participants traveling to and from Black Rock City along a two-lane rural highway every year, traffic (and avoiding it) can be a significant part of the Burning Man experience.

Learn more about beating the traffic here.

Burner event shuttle buses are available to and from San Francisco and Reno. Learn more here.

If you need to fly there, Reno airport and Black Rock City Airport are the closest to the event. 


What do you need to bring to Burning Man?

As mentioned earlier, you’ll need ample time to prepare for the Burning Man. This is a nine-day event held in the desert. So naturally, so will want to have everything with you that you think you’ll need to survive 9 days in the desert. 

The Trip To Black Rock Desert

  •  Tickets

Make sure that you have them ready. You don’t want to arrive at the Black Rock City only to find out you left your tickets at home.

  • Spare tires and spare key

You might get a flat tire along the way or lose your key during your stay. In any case, it always pays to be ready. Make sure, too, that your car is in good running condition.

  • Gas can

You can fill the gas cans along the way, but be sure you have them filled before you reach Fernley. There are very few gas stations from Fernley to the Black Rock Desert.

During Your Stay

  • Food and water

You need plenty of non-perishable food and water for the nine days you’ll be staying in your camp. People easily get dehydrated while under the hot desert sun, so you need plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated. A good rule of thumb is 1.5 gallon per person per day.

  • Cooler

Make sure it’s large enough to hold ice, some frozen meat, beverages, etc. If you’re going to cook, make sure the food is easy to prepare.

Of note, you can buy ice at the Burning Man, but it can be pretty costly. So you should bring plenty of ice before you get to the Black Rock Desert.

  • Cookware set and eating utensils

This includes pots, pans, kettle, cutting board, knives, forks, plates, glasses, coffee mugs, bowls…anything that you need to cook and eat your food with.

  • Cleaning supplies

This includes washtub, sponges, soap, and water for the dishes. But since you’ll be in the desert, it would be wise to bring paper plates and plastic utensils.

Your list of cleaning supplies should also include trash bags. The Burning Man is very strict when it comes to their Leave No Trace policy, so you will need plenty of garbage bags for your trash, which you will be taking with you, of course.

Don’t think of getting away with leaving your trash. They have people who check the campsites after the event, and they will post the camps that have broken their rules. Breaking their rules can easily get you banned.

  • Personal items

Let’s start with your hygiene. There are portable potties at the Burn. But as for showers, you have to bring your own supply of bathwater. Lucky you if your camp has an RV with a solar shower. If not, then bring plenty of facial wipes and hand sanitizers. Of course, you can also chase after the water trucks for a quick shower, which can be pretty fun.

Other personal items that you need are sunblock (this is a must!), rolls of toilet paper, toothpaste, toothbrush, razor, hairbrush, deodorant, moisturizing lotion (preferably with aloe vera for the sunburn), and lip balm. And because the dust gets into everything, you also need some eye drops and saline nasal spray.

Because Black Rock City is in the middle of the desert, you need to plan for extra things like cigarettes, gums, candies, wipes, etc. Should you run out of these, everyone is almost always willing to share what they have with you. But don’t take advantage of people’s generosity though.

Don’t forget your prescription medicines, especially if you’re on maintenance medications for hypertension or diabetes, for example. While the event provides free medical care, they might not have your medicine brand should you forget to bring them.

  • Clothes and shelter

You need to prepare for playa’s ever-changing weather. The days may be hot, but the nights can also get pretty cold. So bring a warm jacket, blankets, and a warm sleeping bag. The extra layers may seem bulky and it may feel like you won’t ever use them (it’s the middle of the desert!), but when the temperature drops in the middle of the night, you’ll thank the heavens you have them. Bring hats and sunglasses, too, to protect you from the sun.

Don’t forget to bring a shade structure, too, in addition to your tent. Tents are okay but can get pretty stuffy during hot days. You need something that allows air and, at the same time, protect you from the hot sun.

The dust storm can be pretty brutal, so you should also bring some masks and bandanna.

Your feet also need protection. Sock is not enough to protect your feet from the corrosive playa dust, but boots can help.

  • Lights

Of course, you also need to bring lights, not only to decorate your camp and bike but to also prevent accidents. If you’re going to explore the city at night, these lights will make people more aware of your presence and prevent them from colliding with you.

  • Transportation

Yes, you can explore the whole Black Rock City on foot. But to get you to places faster, especially the theme camps, you need a reliable bike. You can rent a bike when you get to Reno, and it will cost you $30 to $50. But be aware that these bikes go fast, so you may have to reserve one early.

  • Costumes and gifts

There are many ways to be creative at the Burning Man. You can decorate your tent, bike, and even your clothes with colorful LED lights, glow sticks, and reflective stickers.

As for costumes, there are no limits except your imagination. Be as simple, as grand, or as outrageous as you want to be. You can even walk around in your birthday suit! The important thing is you be you and have fun.

Don’t forget to bring your gifts. The Burning Man is a community built on selfless giving after all, and what better way to honor this than by giving something you have made yourself. These can be local treats, bead bracelets and necklaces, hair clips, anything you can think of.

You can even just lend a shoulder to lean on for people at the Temple. Someone who listens is always a refreshingly welcome gift at the Temple.


Come to the Burn fully prepared. You don’t want to be that person, the sparkle pony, who goes to the Burn unprepared for basic survival but complete in costumes and makeup. Sparkle ponies rely on their charm, mooching off of people’s generosity and resources. The Burning Man community may be the most thoughtful and giving community, but coming unprepared to the Burn is defeating the purpose of Self-Reliance, one of the guiding principles of the Burn.

All in all, joining the Burning Man event can cost you anywhere between $1,500 and $20,000 - including the tickets as well as the cost of the things you’ll need and gifts you’ll bring.

Money is very important when preparing for the Burn. But once you get to the event, money no longer holds value. The only items you can buy with your money are ice and coffee.

So, are you ready for Burning Man?

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