One of the soul-stirring, dramatic, and creatively enlivening festivals that one can witness is the Burning Man festival. Held under the sweltering sun in the Nevada desert, the festival is an ode to wondrous and outrageous talents in arts, music, and technology as well as an extremely challenging living experience. Equip yourself with whatever you need to know before facing the unknown at this week-long, thrilling, and one-of-a-kind experience of the Burning Man festival with TPM’s insider guide.
1. Why did you plan a trip to the Burning Man festival?
When I was in San Diego about 10 years ago, I had a very close friend who’s been to Burning Man about 8 or 10 times, and every time he would come back with such cool stories about different things that he did there but he’s the kind of person that does insane stuff. So it took me a really long time to convince myself to go also. So eventually I made up a plan to go.
2. How did you prepare for the festival?
I joined a whole bunch of Facebook groups. I consulted with my friend. I read a lot about the festival, what people do, how people travel there. What’d they taken? I think I spent about four months preparing for it, with two of my friends who were going with me. I plan trips in a lot of detail. So it took me especially long since this is the first time I was going to a unique event like this.
3. What essentials or must-packs did you carry for the festival?
Burning Man is a unique Festival, especially as far as living conditions go because you know, whatever you take in there is the only thing that you have access to. The people will help you out, but there are certain things that you absolutely need water, obviously, is one of them. It is the one thing that you won’t be able to easily find there, toilet paper obviously, hand sanitizer and comfortable shoes, clothing which is comfortable in extremely hot and dry weather, sunglasses that would protect you from the sand there, and a bicycle.
4. What transportation did you use to reach the festival?
The festival is in the desert somewhere in Nevada, which is on the west coast, right? And my friends and I lived on the East Coast. So we flew to Sacramento, rented an RV, and then we drove for about five and a half to six hours in the RV to the festival.
5. Where were you staying before and at the festival?
We didn’t live anywhere before the festival because we flew in and directly drove in the RV to the festival. So we lived in the RV during the festival.
6. What did you do during your time there? What did the entire day look like?
This has been a while. So my memory is failing and obviously, there’s a lot of drinking involved and a lot of pot smoking. So there’s a lot of stuff that I don’t remember, but I do remember, it’s riding around pretty much aimlessly and you know, looking at different art installations. Going into tents looked interesting for me mostly because I really do hate hanging out in the Sun. So most of the day during daylight when it was really hot, I was mostly looking for shaded spots that had interesting things. So I would go into tents which were shaded. I would go find really comfortable beds under a good shade spot, hang out with people and speak to them, just doing aimless things. During the nighttime, we would go look for really interesting, different music. We went to a whole bunch of places to find good food. At Burning Man, you know, you can’t buy any food. So, you know you have to go to tents that are serving food if you don’t want to eat what you packed.
7. What are the activities or must see or must do’s that you missed while you stayed there?
Every year is different at Burning Man. So really you can’t make a checklist until you get there. You might hear about a cool art installation or a cool tent or event that’s happening there and you might want to check it out, but in my opinion, it’s practically impossible, physically impossible to do, and see everything that you absolutely need to see. So, you know, you do your best and make a plan and then, you know, just get lost in finding new things. I think that’s the best part about Burning Man. Every single person who goes there has a different experience because every turn you take will take you down a different path and you know, you’re going to have a completely unique experience. And I think that’s the best part about Burning Man. So I honestly don’t think going to Burning Man with a plan or a list of must-do things makes sense. Obviously, you want to see the temple and some of the big installations, that’s a given, but otherwise, I don’t really think it makes sense to go in with a plan, you know, get lost and discover new things.
8. How did you document your trip?
This is one trip that I really didn’t spend a lot of time on behind my camera. I was really just enjoying being there hanging out with really unique and cool people. I met so many
different people that I probably would not have met in my life, given my life choices. So that was the best part about it and most of the documentation is just a couple of photographs that I took but otherwise, it’s just I relive some of those moments by just talking about it, but different people whenever they ask me about them.
9. How did you tackle the heat?
Extremely comfortable clothing and slept mostly through the daytime to avoid the heat.
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