How to Prepare for Your First Burning Man Experience

Every year 70,000 people head to Black Rock City to experience Burning Man. It’s a wild adventure filled with dusty sunrises and sunsets, playa hugs, and beautiful experiences. It’s tough to explain what happens during those dusty days in dreamland because everyone’s experience is different.

wondering what to bring to burning man?

Burning Man isn’t really a place where you can just show up and wing it. You need to come prepared to live in the desert for a week. Days can be sweltering, and nights get cold fast. Dust storms are common, so you don’t want to go anywhere without goggles, water, and a mask to protect your face from the playa dust. 

Burning Man is not a barter system; someone may give you a gift. You may have heard people say that the “playa provides.” Once you get there, you’ll understand what that means.

For the ultimate Burning Man experience, you’ll need to plan.

Where to stay in Reno

Whether you’re flying or driving, chances are you’ll make a pit stop in Reno. I’ve stayed at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno several times before and after the burn. If you’re planning on staying in Reno, book your room early. Rooms sell out fast.

Burning Man Experience

My Burning Man Experience 

I went to my first burn in 2017 and met the people in my RV the night before in San Francisco. I connected with the group through a mutual friend, and they’re now some of my closest friends. I’ll never forget showing up to the playa after dark and feeling blown away by the vibrant scene. 

That week, I met the most amazing group of people, danced until I couldn’t feel my feet anymore, cycled around for miles, snapped pictures of the spectacular artwork, and watched the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets. 

I’ve been to Burning Man three times now, and every experience has been a new incredible adventure. 

What to Wear to Burning Man
When is Burning Man? 

Burning Man is a week-long event typically held at the end of August and the beginning of September.

Where is Black Rock City? 

Black Rock City is located in Nevada, approximately 122 miles north of Reno.  

How to get to Burning Man?

You can drive to Black Rock City, book a ticket on the Burner Bus, or fly onto the playa.

How much does it cost to go to Burning Man? 

Costs vary depending on what you consider essential. Here are some of the basic expenses 
– You’ll need a ticket ($575), a vehicle pass, or a Burner Bus ticket.  
– Food, water, and drinks for a week
– RV, yurt, or tent
– Sleeping bag, pillows, etc. 
– Transportation to Black Rock City and if you’re traveling overseas, you’ll have to add flight expenses 
– A bike and a lock 
Burning Man clothing, costumes, accessories including a torch and lights for your bike, comfortable shoes, a coat, goggles, dust masks, etc. 

Burning Man Tips

Burning Man Packing List

Black Rock Desert

Burning Man Essentials: Toiletries 

  • Sunscreen 
  • Lip Balm – Bring extra if you want to give them as gifts. 
  • Toilet Paper – Single ply if you’re staying in an RV. 
  • Coconut Oil – This is great for hydrating your skin after a long day in the dust. You can also add a little bit to your boot zipper if it gets stuck, and I’ve also used it to fix a squeaky bike chain. 
  • Eye Drops 
  • Nasal Spray 
  • Bandaids – A small first aid kit is also a good idea.  
  • Earplugs
Burning Man Outfits

Burning Man Fashion: Outfits, Costumes, Shoes + Accessories 

There is no dress code for Burning Man. Wear anything you want (or nothing at all.) It’s totally up to you.

Here’s a packing guide to help you create your own unique Burning Man outfits.

  • Wigs are awesome because they protect your hair from the dust. 
  • Comfortable Boots – Break-in your shoes before you arrive to the playa. Comfort is key. I always bring slides or slippers to give my feet a rest when I’m at camp.
  • Body Suits and bathing suits are great base layers. 
  • Lights – Even if you think you have enough, bring more. Don’t forget extra batteries. 
  • Goggles – I’ve made the mistake of buying goggles that were tinted, and it was tough to see at night. Stick to clear ones. 
  • Bandanas These are great for covering your mouth during dust storms. (Bring one per day.) Wear a dust mask underneath.
  • Coat – You’ll need a warm one. If you get tired of carrying it, loop your bike lock through the sleeve when you lock up your bike. 
  • Socks – 2 per day 
Black Rock City

burning man: Where to Sleep 

You don’t have to find a camp, but it’s a great way to meet new people.  

  • RV – They’re comfortable, and you’ll have AC! You also don’t have to worry about where you will store your food or where to cook.  If you’re traveling in an RV, bring cash to dump your gray water and fill up your water tank. 
  • Yurt – I stayed in a yurt one year, and it was awesome. It can get a bit dark in there, but ours was always comfortable when the AC was on. 
  • Tent – Bring everything you need, including a shade for your tent, tent stakes, sleeping pad, sleeping bag and camping essentials.
Burning Man tips for first timers

What to do Before You Arrive to Black Rock City 

1) Get organized.

  • Schedule time off and give yourself a few days to recover after the week is over. 
  • Create a budget, buy your ticket, and find a camp. 
  • Decide where you’re going to sleep and how you’re going to get there. 
  • If you decide to book an RV, make reservations early. 
  • Stretch and get ready to move, because you’ll be cycling a lot. 

2) Get your shopping done early. 

You can purchase your Bike and other essentials in Reno. But it will be very busy!

If you don’t want to wait in line, try buying as much as possible before you get to Reno.

3) Be prepared to wait. 

I’ve waited between 10 and 13 hours to get into Burning Man. Keep in mind, there are thousands of people arriving at the same time as you. If it gets too dusty to drive, they may stop letting people in until conditions improve. 

After the Burn 

Burning Man is a leave no trace event, so you’ll have to pack out everything you brought in, including all your trash.

If you’re in an RV, you can dump all your black water in Reno. 

clean your gear

Everything will get dusty. Although the last thing you probably will want to do is clean all your playa gear when you get home, it’s a good idea to get that dust off before you forget about it. Store away your stuff in a plastic container so it’s ready for next year.  


Everyone’s time in Black Rock City is entirely unique, imaginations run wild, and the possibilities are limitless. It’s a temporary city built every year to welcome burners from around the world. Around every corner, you’ll find something new. 

Happy Burn! Enjoy your unique Burning Man Experience and have the time of your life!

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