What's your best tip for Burning Man?
August 16, 2013 2:02 PM   Subscribe

We've gone to Burning Man for a few years. This year a friend is joining us who is a burgin. We know there are things that have become automatic to us that we won't remember to pass on - and probably things we've never figured out that are great ides. What's your best tip, or tips, for Burning Man?
posted by rednikki to Society & Culture (16 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Take the time to care for your skin each day. Sunblock, coverings, hats, and then careful to wipe off the playa dust from feet at night, moisturize, baby oil, vinegar to cut the alkilinity, baby wipes, etc. Change socks.

If your skin starts to feel like crap, it will make the rest of the trip uncomfortable. You will be happy to take the extra time to avoid massive blistering sunburn and chemical burns on the feet from playa dust.

So this means packing a lot of skin care stuff, as I listed above. Plenty of sunblock. Not just a little bit.
posted by htid at 2:06 PM on August 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Some things I forgot to tell other people:

*Bring something soft to put under your sleeping bag, the ground is hard.

*If you think you are dating someone, have a conversation about the terms of your relationship and the potential for non-monogamy before you get to the playa. Actually, I did tell people that, but I should have repeated it for emphasis.
posted by mai at 2:07 PM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Hexayurts!

Awesome shelter from the evil day star, yet cosy at night.
posted by dirm at 2:48 PM on August 16, 2013

Best answer: Backing on htid's answer, work gloves help a lot. You wind up doing a lot of work setting up, breaking down, and helping those around you.

One year, simply by putting up my own shade structure without gloves, I must have gotten micro-abrasions on my fingers. After about 4 days I couldn't touch a thing.

They talk about playa foot, but never playa hand. Not fun.
posted by Vaike at 3:04 PM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I feel like I've read every Burning Man article I ever need to read, but this came my way a few days ago and I really quite like it from an intangibles perspective: An Emotional Survival Guide to Burning Man.
posted by mykescipark at 3:26 PM on August 16, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Put every change of clothes in a ziploc bag.
Bring lots of socks.
Zippers can get clogged with playa dust—astroglide can unclog them.
A spray bottle of vinegar water is great. Put a little mint oil in there too.
Always have a cup.
Work gloves are great to carry around with you in case you encounter someone else needing help building something.
Walk out to the 12:00 corner of the trash fence some night.
Find a project to get involved with, or volunteer with the borg.

Keeping food adequately refrigerated and free of cooler water is kind of a problem. This year I'm borrowing a friend's vacuum sealer, and will try preparing, sealing, and freezing a bunch of food in advance. I am hopeful this will improve my food situation.
posted by adamrice at 3:37 PM on August 16, 2013

Best answer: Keeping food adequately refrigerated and free of cooler water is kind of a problem. This year I'm borrowing a friend's vacuum sealer, and will try preparing, sealing, and freezing a bunch of food in advance. I am hopeful this will improve my food situation.

The best way to cool a cooler is to freeze water in bottles of various sizes and pack them in and around the food. No melt water that goes everywhere and the water in the bottles is perfectly drinkable after melting. I use a mixture of two liter, one liter, 20 oz and 8 oz bottles so that every possible void space is full of frozen water. Big blocks of ice also take much longer to melt and when melting the water in the bottle surrounding the ice stays at 32 deg F (change of phase and all that) which really helps keep the cooler cool, whereas melt water in the bottom of the cooler starts warming up immediately. I keep the water bottles in my basement freezer to fill it up as well so I always have ice ready to go for that impromptu trip.

(BTW i have never been to burning man, although I have driven by and stopped at black rock desert at Gerlach several times on trips between Oregon and Arizona and I have gone camping a LOT in the desert-this method works really well for even week long trips in the desert. For extra cool time in the cooler run a string of duct tape along the seam between the lid and the body of the cooler at night-even better back multiple coolers with each labeled for day of use and never, ever open one before the designated day. You will have solid blocks on ice on the last day if you have a good, sealed duct taped cooler.)
posted by bartonlong at 3:44 PM on August 16, 2013 [8 favorites]

Best answer: Carry ear plugs at all times. There's a lot of great music experiences there but it's often well into the hearing damage level. Always carry a light, even during the day, because you never know when you'll get distracted and find yourself heading back to camp well after dark. Carry a watch if you're used to using a cell phone.

If they indulge in substances, be smart, both in terms of trip sitting and watching out for cops.

Lock things in vehicles Burn night because there are thieves. Figure out alternate landmarks for getting back to camp for after the Man and Temple burns.

Be aware that what's in Who What Where may be incorrect and if you really want to do something, swing by the camp the day before to confirm where and when it will be.

Bringing multiple sleeping bag liners and changing them is like having fresh clean sheets every two days.

Exodus *will* take longer than you think it should.
posted by Candleman at 4:34 PM on August 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I've done what bartonlong suggests and it works really well. Also, if meltwater is a concern then try dry ice: ask for it at the customer service desk at your local safeway or wherever. If they have a seafood department they probably carry dry ice. Furthermore, try covering each cooler with one of those mylar space blankets. This keeps the sun out, and also makes it more of a hassle to get into your cooler, which encourages you to open it up less often.

A cultural thing: when someone tells you to drink some water, or politely suggests that drinking some water might be a good idea, or even simply asks you when you last drank some water, YOU MUST DRINK WATER NOW. Really. Don't argue, don't explain that you aren't thirsty, just drink your water. People get dehydrated very quickly out there and start to act cranky and unreasonable without even realizing that they feel bad. If someone inquires about your water intake it may be a sign that you are acting strange. Don't be difficult, just drink your water. :-)
posted by Mars Saxman at 4:49 PM on August 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Similarly, if everybody in your camp are idiots and pissing you off by doing the stupidest things ever, sit down in the shade, drink water, and wait at least 10 minutes before making any decisions or getting into any arguments.

Dehydration makes people cranky.
posted by Lexica at 8:10 PM on August 16, 2013

Best answer: this is my fourth year, and my third year wrangling a bunch of playa virgins. I like to tell them to consider things that have the potential to wreck their burn, & think prevention. my first year, I had some crazy blisters, and yeah. that sucked. ever since I've brought these magical things. also, multiple pairs of boots, including faux uggs for around camp. other things with wreckage potential: sunburn (be religious about sunscreen), migraines (just refilled my triptans!), hangovers, injuries, etc.

other stuff:

-- assume that any stranger who asks you about adult substances is a cop
-- right away, locate a bright camp or artwork at the edge of your street to help guide you home late at night
-- pick a couple nights to get a good night's sleep. even if you don't usually have trouble sleeping, pack earplugs, a sleep mask, and a warm hat to sleep in. take naps whenever possible, wherever possible
-- you will have little appetite, but you should still force yourself to eat. when you do have an appetite, it will be for weird things, like pickle martinis. indulge!
-- if you are a girl, there is no shame in peeing in a funnel
-- communicate. i.e., if you get separated, is there a place you should return to? or does that just mean separate adventures?
-- do go on a solo adventure no matter what, even if it's just a bike ride out to deep playa
-- absolutely, any time you feel even vaguely cranky, drink water. you'll feel it a lot more in the first couple days, but then you'll acclimate & feel a lot better
-- pack some delicious surprises for exodus. in 2011 I was stuck in line for 9 hours with a can of parmesan cheese
-- pack a ziploc bag with a clean outfit inside for after exodus
-- those indian tacos really are as good as everyone says they are
-- see you soon!
posted by changeling at 9:40 AM on August 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! This is awesome!
posted by rednikki at 10:28 AM on August 17, 2013

Best answer:
  • Wash your feet daily & keep them covered up. Dr. Bronner's liquid soap is minty-refreshing & biodegradable, & bring a soft scrub-brush. Playa-foot is real and a serious bummer.

  • Expect to spend at least a day overwhelmed by the heat and altitude. Your body takes a little time to acclimatize. Drink lots of water, don't exert yourself too hard at first, and I personally love Emergen-C.

  • posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:56 AM on August 17, 2013

    Best answer: Also, I have been going for about 7 years and last year a virgin told me about hitting a day of overstimulation. It was amazingly helpful because it helped me recognize it, take some quiet time, and remember it was past if the process. So, i stopped heading cats, took off my difficult but awesome outfit parts, followed my group to a bar and sat quietly on the corner for awhile. Surprisingly helpful.
    posted by Vaike at 10:04 PM on August 17, 2013

    Best answer: Signs of dehydration. In a very dry climate, you don't feel yourself sweating. You should be peeing several times a day, and your pee should be light-colored and not intensely smelly. I've gotten dehydrated enough to get a blinding headache, not fun.
    posted by theora55 at 11:12 AM on August 18, 2013

    Best answer: Figure out alternate landmarks for getting back to camp for after the Man and Temple burns.
    This. Mount a flag pole by your tent and hang something distinctive, like flags, beach balls, windmills, or teddy bears on it so that you can find your tent easily.

    Water is crucial, but don't forget electrolytes. Emergen-C has been mentioned above. Gatorade and fruit juice are good, too. Remember that tea, coffee, and beer are diuretics.

    Be sure to fill your vehicle with fuel before you leave civilisation - You don't want to run out in the middle of nowhere.
    posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 9:10 AM on August 21, 2013

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