Lonely Planet Writer

Going to Burning Man 2018? 10 things to do in the 10 days before

The world’s wildest party is kicking off in the Black Rock Desert on 25 August. By now, both experienced and virgin burners should have all their essential items ticked off; transport, accommodation, bikes and an action plan for food and water. But what about the last minute preparations? We asked some experienced burners for their top tips for how you should be spending the last week before Burning Man 2018.

Are you ready for Burning Man? Image by Jon Collier / CC BY 2.0

1. Know the 10 principles

You should be familiar with the 10 principles of Burning Man already but it’s never a bad idea to re-read and ensure you really understand – and are ready to live – them before setting foot on the playa.

2. Decide what gifts you’re going to bring

The festival works, not on a bartering economy, but on a gifting one. It can be as simple as a hug or a compliment or you could do something you’re good at like teach a class or make a cocktail. Physical gifts are great too but ensure it’s something you would actually like to receive yourself. Cans of beer are an easy way to gift without too much thinking involved.

Hugs (or beer) can be a good gift idea. Image by Roger Ho / CC BY 2.0

3. Figure out your emergency contacts

Cell reception is non-existent in the desert so if there’s a chance you’ll need to be reachable in an emergency you need to plan ahead. Give anybody who needs it your name, the name, theme and location of your camp (if known), your vehicle registration number and any distinguishing features or landmarks that will help you to be found. They can email 911@burningman.org with an emergency message if necessary. You should also leave your emergency contact details with your camp leader and your friends.

4. Lights, lights and lots of batteries

It’s crucial to have lights on you at night. It’s incredibly dark and you could easily get knocked down by a bike. Plus you need to show off your costume! Find the best way to do that and ensure you have loads of batteries to keep it shining bright. Pack at least one flashlight for manoeuvring about.

It’s not just your accommodation you’ll be decorating in lights. Image by Neil Girling / CC BY 2.0

5. Decorate!

Now the big stuff is over, now is the time to put the final details on all those weird and wonderful costumes you have planned. The more unique the better and remember; they’ll need to be small and light during the day (if you’re wearing clothes at all), and plenty of warm layers at night. Just leave the feather and loose glitter at home as they’ll destroy the environment.

6. Think about storage

Plastic boxes or big ziplocs can be helpful to store aforementioned costumes and protect them from the dust that has a tendency to get everywhere. You’ll want to look good for the final day when revellers burn the man.

Are you bike-ready? Image by Amsterdamize / CC BY 2.0

7. Water and air

Gatorade or electrolytes will be absolutely crucial to keeping hydrated during the week; if you forget everything else remember these. For clean air to breathe, bring a dust mask. If you’re a fan of less-than-clean air, smokers should pack a portable, sealed ashtray to protect the playa.

8. Print out directions

Sound obvious, but we’re so used to using our phones to find our way, you should bring a paper copy of all the info you need before setting off.

9. Be comfortable with consent

Burning Man is known as a free-for-all and, if you want to test your limits, this is the place. The issue of consent is taken very seriously however and you should be comfortable saying and hearing no before you go. This applies to everything from sex and drugs to taking pictures of people or sharing a drink.

10. Respect your and other people’s emotions

Dave, a burner with 3 festivals under his belt told Lonely Planet: “Be prepared to be happy, angry, sad and mad! If somebody is not being great, be aware they might be HALT…hungry, angry, lonely and tired. And have a great time!”

Expect to feel the full gamut of emotions in the desert. Image by Duncan Rawlinson / CC BY 2.0