Hiya Live 3 and welcome to The Burning Man experience.
You're not the first scared virgin by far but the only thing you should be concerned about is making sure you cram as much fun into your week in the desert.
Burners are quite a resourceful, helpful and generous bunch so you will have zero logistical nightmares with a little pre-planning.
As you're a virgin to the world as well as BM, I strongly recommend that your first time should be with a theme camp.
I can highly recommend two in particular *wink wink*
The Burner Hostel
- I've camped with The Hostel for the past three years and it's main tenet is providing support for non-USians.
- this is my theme camp.
As for what to cram into your flight luggage and what to buy in Reno/Sparks, below is my summary that I've copied from elsewhere.
Many of us are limited by what we can fit into flight luggage. The remaining bulky/heavy supplies can be purchased in Sparks upon
arrival. There are also items on your shopping list that may not be available in your country, eg. Ziplock bags are unheard of in the UK except for flimsy things for freezing food in.
For myself there are generally two major shopping stops in Sparks: a hardware store and a supermarket. If you don't have a vehicle then just put an order in with somebody else that is doing one of these runs or take the trip with them.
My BM shopping list changes every year but some things that stand out are:
Rebar - pre-cut 12" lengths suffice for most camping needs, 18" for keeping anything particularly sail-like from flying away. You don't need to make a point on the end to drive them into the playa. You can bend one end if you like but again, isn't necessary.
Chunky metal army surplus tent stakes also work just as well, but rebar is traditional and part of the fun. It's a good idea to get a few more than you anticipate needing, as they can always be given to others. Just don't get to the Playa with just the needle-like stakes supplied with the tent, as these are useless in the dusty ground. Don't forget something to cover the end of the stakes to prevent injury, or just drive them all the way into the ground. They are easy enough to retrieve afterwards but if you do follow the hammer to death method, be sure to remove them ALL while your tent is still in position during breakdown. Last year, I spent an age looking for that one tough bastard of a stake that refused to lift. I thought I'd leave that last one for later as it had exhausted me but when I returned to tackle it somebody had been kind enough to take my tent down for me (not knowing about the bastard stake) and so the long but successful search began.
A spare club hammer and pliers are always good to have in camp, to save everyone borrowing the same few tools all the time. If you borrow something be sure to return it as soon as you've finished with it and not lend it on to somebody else that doesn't know to whom it belongs. It's a bit irksome when you bring something to the playa and it's nowhere to be seen or heard of that one moment when you really need it.
It's always a good idea to opt for the tent and tarp method of tent shading. REFLECTIVE
canvas can also provide a shade above a tent. One only needs a space of a few inches between the tent and the canvas
to enable being in one's tent bearable after 10am.
Zip ties and Duct Tape have a myriad of uses. Make sure the ties don't become MOOP.
Fabric (for additional tent shade and decor)
Puncture repair kit and/or spare tyre and tubes
Bicycle lock - many a bike has been taken by mistake under the influence because they all look the same at night. Try and get one with a combination lock so you don't have to worry about losing the key.
Cooler (Hagey has several dozen communal ones for everyone - wait for the forum announcement for getting one of these closer to August)
Sun protection, plasters, lip balm, etc
Zip Lock bags
Baby wipes - absolutely essential and refreshing alternative to a shower. Hagey swears by them.
Air mattress and pump
Food: Remember some salty snacks to replace those lost through sweating. If you want something tastier than water for seven days bring some cordial, fruit juice; or Gatorade or a similar product. If you're not familiar with Gatorade
, then buy a few flavours in smaller quantities while in Reno before committing to gallons of the stuff. Also, only bring enough fruit that you can consume within a couple of days or you'll end up with a gloopy, smelly mess. Canned fruit is good. Mesh bag for wet garbage (dry it!).
Alcohol (avoid glass bottles) - if your fave tipple only comes in a glass bottle then decant it into a plastic bottle before.
A small garbage container for your tent.
REMEMBER TO REMOVE ANY EXCESS PACKAGING BEFORE HEADING OUT TO THE PLAYA.
Essentials that will fit in your luggage
Something to mark stakes and ropes at night such as reflective ribbon, flashers etc (people run into them otherwise). Also provides a good opportunity to get creative.
Dust mask/scarf and goggles.
Head torch, blinkies, el-wire, glow sticks, any light that can be affixed to clothing. Bring a torch/lantern too, but keep it in camp or else it will just hamper your night time antics.
Photocopies of important documents to be kept at the bottom of your luggage in case you lose the originals.
Warm clothes (fleece and/or furry trench coat)
Small hand mirror (I like to have one that hangs in my tent)
Small portable ashtray /tin with lid (even if you don't smoke as it's good for trash while out and about)
A cup - for partaking of offered beverages and a method of attaching it to belt/clothing
Costumes and Playawear
Extremely comfortable and worn-in footwear - you will be doing A LOT of walking.
Luggage tags with your name and the BRIBH camp address on to attach to everything portable - it just may come back. Once we know our address for 2008 I'll be making updated versions of (PDF auto download)my luggage tag
Playa Calling Cards - useful for giving email addresses to all the wonderful freaks that you meet and want to stay in contact with.
Life on the Playa is harsh but can be over-hyped somewhat to scare virgins. The main thing to keep in mind is that once you're there you can't nip out to get something that you forgot. You can get the Empire-Gerlach bus to get some supplies but this would eat into valuable playtime and is an option I would never contemplate.
Everyone always brings too many supplies and you only have to ask if you have forgotten something. But remember one of the tenets of BM is radical self reliance. It's always better to be the one giving away essential supplies than the one having to ask for them.
Everyone is different (Thank God), and thus their needs are different too. There are plenty of BM supplies lists to be found online but adapt your list to your own requirements. My first aid kit comprises of three or so plasters and I walk around camp barefoot and have never been near a vinegar footbath. I've never owned a sleeping bag and use a good blanket instead as it's more versatile.
There is also the excellent Tribe, with a couple of notable tribes being, Burning Man Tips
and 2008 Burning Man Virgins
And just one last very important point, once again: REMEMBER TO REMOVE ANY EXCESS PACKAGING BEFORE HEADING OUT TO THE PLAYA.
As for the cost
, the minimum is probably:
Flight - Â£450 - Â£650 depending on airline and time of booking. Flights to Reno are more convenient than SF but are a little more expensive and never direct.
Accommodation (few days before and after event) - Â£100 - Â£200 depending if you stay in one of the Reno casinos or a motel in Sparks.
Supplies - Â£100 - Â£250 depending on if you're sharing meals, buying a bike, tent, etc.
So it can be done on Â£800 at a push but Â£1100 is more likely.
If you can afford the time and the money to go this year, then do so, because if you leave it to next year you'll be kicking yourself for missing out on the previous year.