Skip to content

September 11, 2010


Preparing for Burning Man


Self Reliance

One of Burning Man’s main tenants is Self-Reliance.  Bring what you need to survive, and party, in the desert for 8 days and leave no trace behind when you go.  The execution of this principle has evolved into a shadow of the intent, but it is still farther than most people are accustomed to.

Get There Early and Pick Your SpotGet There Early and Pick Your Spot


Get There Early and Pick Your Spot


I say shadow because they now have a coffee/drink shop and sell ice.  This is in addition to the continous food a drink give aways throughout.  Believe me, no one is going to starve or go thirsty except by choice.  The playa will provide.

I have been living more often than not under this principle since April so the change was not that great for me.  The logistics of bringing what ended up being 9 nights in Black Rock City does provide challenges for motorcycle travel however.


How did I get around this issue?  With Burning Man’s other tenant, Community.

Within 5 minutes of registering as a potential member of Camp Nomadia’s site I had an offer to carry water for me.  Ignoring the volume of 10 gallons of water requires its weight alone is 85 pounds.  Far better for an RV to carry that than me.

After that came an offer from another Nomad to meet in Alturus, CA to caravan and help with anything else.  They brought in my additional groceries as more of a convinience than necessity and unitentionally my tent as well.

Where to Stay

Group Shade AssemblyGroup Shade Assembly


Group Shade Assembly


I should probably go back to finding a camp.  There are 3 main types:

Theme Camp – Large group with elaborate setup and common facilities.  You often have to pay to be part of these and have designated responsibilities while there.

Common Interest Camp – Size and setup will vary.  Mine had about 90 people with 3 planned happy hours, one Technomadic Lifestyle workshop, and a group shade/hangout area.

On your own or with friends – Usually a basic setup farther away from the center.  Often not as inviting for strangers to stop in at.

The selection for me was easy as most of my research and even decision to go was from this Burning Man guest post on the Indie Travel Podcast website.  I looked into Camp Nomadia from the link there and knew it was where I belonged.  It turned out to be an absolutely fantastic camp.  There were people ranging frmo 6 months to 60+ from all over the US, Canada, and EU getting along, having fun, and happy to contribute whatever they could.  Nomads rock!


Another part of Burning Man’s community effort is gifting.  This can be anything from helping wash dishes or carry ice, bringing small trinkets to give out, to your camp making food or drinks for all that come by for a couple of hours.  At its core it’s not an exchange of you did this for me so I need to do something back.  It supposed to be done purely as a feel good experience.

Being space and budget constrained I still wanted to do something.  I ended up picking 4 photos from my trip to give out.  I made 25 copies of each and put the location, my name, website, and BM location on the back.  People really did seem to like them and I had fun giving them out.  This will also make it easy to keep in touch with the people I met.

Making Your Own Drinks Is FasterMaking Your Own Drinks Is Faster


Making Your Own Drinks Is Faster


Body PaintBody Paint


Body Paint


What to Wear

Dressing up in costumes is very much the norm at BM as is undressing as far as you like.  I wasn’t quite ready for the latter option and aside from my motorcycle gear which feels normal to me now I didn’t bring any costumes.  In this case, again, the playa provides with costume shopts that let you pick from whatever they happen to have at the time only asking that you return them before you go.  It is far more common for them to have womens clothes than mens, but cross dressing is encouraged.


An Open Mind and Good Attitude – I’m convinced this is all you need to travel anywhere.  In fact I met up with a friend at BM that I originally met in Malaysia 4 years ago who traveled for 6 months in South America with just this, a pair of cargo pants holding his toothbrush and deoderant, and a credit card.

Bring layers.  100’s during the day and 40’s at night is normal

Prepare for wind and dust.  Dust masks, googles, and bandanas are required.  The playa dust is very fine and gets everywhere.  I found that zippers are prone to problems, especially on tents.  I would bring a can or two of compressed air just for this next time.

A Cup – All bars in BRC are Bring Your Own Cup to cut down on trash.  Pimp it out before you go to make it easy to recognize.

Sunscreen and sunglasses

Wet wipes for you to clean with.  NEVER put them in the porta potties.

Trash Bags to store your sleeping gear in during the day to keep the dust off and take your trash home at the end.

Tank/Bottle for gray water (cooking, cleaning teeth, etc) don’t dump it on the playa.

Earplugs and sleep mask.  You will want to sleep during the day at some point and the music goes 24 hours a day.  Staying in the outer rings cuts down on noise some.

Boots – I used flip flops about half the time, but my feet needed protection by the end of the week.

Notepad and pencil – keep in touch will all the interesting characters you will meet.

Gatorade – staying hydrated is key.  Piss clear.  I tried to drink 3 liters of water or gatorade within 5 hours of waking up and did fine all week.

Drink Mixers – Everyone brings alcohol, but not all bring mixers.  Take your favorite to share. Tequilla always went first at our camp along with the margarita mix.

A Bike – By far the best way to get around.  BRC is big.

Camp chairs, folding table, carabiners.

There is always a chance a things going missing or being broken so take care of what you bring.


Playa – the large open flat area in the Black Rock Desert where Burning Man is held.  During the winter the playa is a lake only a few inches deep.

Black Rock City (BRC) – Nickname for the city created during BM on the playa.

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Read more from Blog, USA
12 Comments Post a comment
  1. Sep 11 2010

    I am so thrilled you found your way to Camp Nomadia – your energy and presence there was a perfect fit into creating a fantastic community of like minds! I’m still buzzing from all the awesome, and love reading our campmate’s posts about their Burning Man experience.

    • Sep 13 2010

      Thanks Cherie (and Chris)! Loved Camp Nomadia. It felt like home from the get go which is awesome to have when you’re on the road. Major props to you two for setting things up and building this community! I’ve got 3 more posts on Burning Man to come (for now) and will have the memories with me forever.

  2. Sep 11 2010

    It was absolutely fabulous to have you at Camp Nomadia. We had an amazing crowd this year.

    We are looking forward to crossing paths with you again out on the road. *grin*

    – Chris

  3. Sam & Tracy
    Sep 11 2010

    Brian, It was great meeting you and hanging out together. Sorry we did not get a chance to say goodbye. Remember you are always welcome to stay with us anytime.

    Big Sam & T

    • Sep 13 2010

      Great meeting you too. I just caught Sarge before I left, but most of the camp was still asleep. At least I missed the lines. Hope we cross paths again down the road.

  4. Boston Bill
    Sep 12 2010

    Great write up. You hit all the key items. Great seeing you out there. Safe travels.

    • Sep 13 2010

      Great seeing you too Bill. I realized I forgot to add drink mixers so I put that in up top too. Of course if you’re just doing shots of Jameson the mixers aren’t really necessary are they?

  5. Dan T
    Jun 25 2011

    Thanks Brian. I have never been but plan to and riding there is the way I’m going in and out. Always enjoy the stories I hear and read for BM “residents”

  6. Oct 19 2012

    an amazing place, thanks for the info above. I think this will be our next tour destination

  7. Mar 27 2016


    I have been through your blog and you have written with detail info. I always wish to go new place to travel with Motorbike and found these place interesting.

    Thanks for letting us know. Any plan for motorbike tour in Nepal? Do let me know will help you for sure.

    Cheers Mate!!

    Keep travelling, keep Riding.!

  8. May 8 2016

    I will add this place to my bucket list.

    Thanks for sharing!!

    Cheers Mate.!!

  9. Jun 28 2016

    Great article, Brian! Even though this post is old, it can be still very helpful for my next trip there! Thanks!


Share your thoughts, post a comment.


Note: HTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to comments