Burning Man Tips, From Somebody Who’s Been There (And Learned The Hard Way)


I actually don’t have words to describe how heartbroken I am that I won’t be attending Burning Man this year. Every time I smell the wood-fired pizza place across the street, I am taken back to the bonfires of that first burn (see above, look how sunburnt I am!). If YOU are going, tell me all about it so I can live vicariously! And more importantly, if it’s your first time, please benefit from my knowledge of experience!

I was very lucky in that I had a lot of help and guidance for my first time, and granted, everyone’s experience is different. Over the past three burns, I picked up some valuable knowledge AND learned some lessons on my own!



  • First off, don’t cheap out on your packing materials. Buy the Ziploc bags (name brand!) with the zipper slides on the top. These are the only bags that will be resealable on the playa — the regular kind will get filled with dust and be completely useless TRUST ME!


  • 2. Pack 1 whole outfit, including underwear and socks, in a plastic Ziploc bag, seal it, and NEVER OPEN IT. This will be your “clean clothes” for after the burn (and after you shower!)


  • You’ll actually want to bring 2x the amount of face wipes that you think you’ll need.


  • …And you’ll want to bring 3x the amount of paper towels you think you’ll need


  • If you’re going to get your period out there, I strongly recommend applicator tampons (like Tampax Pearl) and doggie poop bags (for disposing of used tampons — NEVER put anything but one-ply in the portos)! THINX and other period underwear are nice if you have the ability to rinse things clean out there, but somewhat impractical because of gray water and they WILL get dusty as hell. I wouldn’t recommend a cup — I’m too afraid of dropping it in the porto, or not getting it clean enough (nothing is EVER going to be CLEAN ENOUGH out there) and some people will tell you that Playa dust gives them yeast infections, so if you’re prone, avoid it.


  • For every 1 cup of alcohol you drink, fill your cup with water and don’t fill it with alcohol again until you’ve drank all the water. Or, if you’re sick of water, alternate alcohol with a glass of diluted pickle juice, OR Gatorade, OR Emergen-C.


  • Treat yourself to a hunk of Himalayan pink salt. If it’s hot like last year, clinging to your electrolytes is a full-time job!


  • After you lay out all the clothes you want to take… cut that pile in half. Take one outfit for very cold nights, and then only your most comfortable clothes. You will probably wear your favorite, most comfortable outfit multiple days. You might decide to become a nudist out there. Every year, I cart around a suitcase full of clothes I’ve hardly worn, and worn this outfit in the pic above almost every day. Most people do the same.


  • Attach a hand sanitizer to your bike’s handlebars. You know the dispensers at the bathrooms run out on Thursday-Friday, and you’ll want to grab relief QUICK after you come out of those grimy week-old stalls!


  • Bring no less than a dozen bandanas. Heaven forbid it storms EVERY DAY, you’ll need each one. If it only storms a little, you have spares to give away as gifts to those caught without. Pack half of your bandanas in one bag, and half in another bag, so you’ll have some clean ones at the end of the week when your first bag gets all dusty from opening and re-opening.


  • Buy a variety of foods: some salty, some sweet, some granola bars, some soups. If you think you can exist for a week and a half on nothing but Clif bars, I gotta burst your bubble: very few people can. By the time you go to open your fifth Kind bar in a row, you’ll be DESPERATE for any other flavor of food. If you can find camping goos, tortilla chips (less likely to break than regular potato chips), small packages of jelly beans or gummy bears (less likely to melt into a huge mess or get filled with dust than a big container), sardines (taste AMAZING out there) or canned nacho cheese (!!!) they will save you from Granola Bar Fatigue™ and you can thank me later.


  • Bring spare Ziploc bags for packing things up while you’re out there, packing toiletries for the flight home, saving food and snacks from getting dusty, etc.


  • Try to bring shoes that you can slip on and off. Shoelaces get crusty and hard to untie in the dust, and zippers can malfunction when jammed full of Playa! If you can, bring some slippers for throwing on in the middle of the night for porto runs, so you don’t have to lace up your shoes half-asleep. try to avoid going barefoot and change your socks often!


  • Bring a big scarf (like the one I’m wearing above) that you can soak in water and drape over yourself to cool down quickly. Also cool: a spray bottle to squirt yourself down with while running around!


  • Pre-pack your Camelback with: a bandana, a warmer scarf or shirt, your spoon, a granola bar, a hand sanitizer, and goggles. Don’t leave home without it!


  • It’s not a bad idea to bring at least one roll of 1-ply toilet paper, in case your local portos run out one day. Fold some up neatly and put it in a pocket of your Camelback, too, if you’re worried about being caught without!


  • Trust me: bring two pairs of sunglasses. If one pair breaks, you’ll be SCREWED. This happened to me last year, and I was MISERABLE. Learn from my misery!


If you go to Burning Man this year, promise me this: when you come back, tell me that it was miserable. That the weather sucked, the techno was omnipresent, and the lines at the Golden Cafe were prohibitively long. I’m bitter, what can I say? But I love you all, and I’ll see you on the Playa next year, this I avow!

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