Hello and welcome! I had tickets to go last year but couldn't make it, so this will also be my first year. I am a very obsessive person, so I think I may have read every single word about BM on the internet (which Al Gore did in fact invent), but as with everything, there's nothing like the actual experience.
Here are my few notes, for what they'r worth:
-As someone said, at the very least practice setting up and taking down your tent, multiple times. Once you arrive to the Playa (or anywhere you're camping) you're going to have a lot going on and the last thing you want to do is get stuck trying to read tent assembly instructions while the wind blows and all you want to do is sleep or run around and take it all in.
-Do NOT arrive in the dark. This applies for all types of camping, but especially for this. I often times don't listen to my own advice here, but it is pretty sucky to set up camp when it's dark, even if you know exactly what you're doing. If you don't know exactly what you're doing, imagine trying to do it all in the dark. No fun!
-Also, it's not fun to arrive in the dark because you'll have no clue where you are or where you're going. I suppose this could work out if you just randomly plop down somewhere, but I prefer a tad bit more strategy, at least in terms of setting up camp.
-Driving cross country by yourself sucks. At least in my mind. If I had someone with me, it could be fun, or at the very least, suck less. That said, if I had never been, and I knew what was waiting for me at my destination, I'd probably be able to maintain a good attitude.
-In terms of what to pack, lighter is just about always better for any type of travel. As long as you have water, shade, personal items (sunscreen, hat, shoes, whatever you NEED to feel comfortable) then you're good.
-For getting to BRC from Reno, I've never done it, but there are driving instructions on the BM website. I believe there are vans from the airport. YOu could find the vans and follow one. Or find someone on here who is willing to meet up with you.
-The majority of my camp is coming from NYC, or at least quite a few of them are. You seem like a very social person so, if you feel comfortable doing it, my campmates are hosting a fundraiser this Friday in NYC. It's from 10pm-4am. The DJs are part of the camp. They're raising money to fund the various expenses (travel, storage, building the camp, etc.). If you're interested, I could put you in touch with them through our Facebook page (FAcebook for Burning Man just sounds wrong...but it's a good way to stay connected).
-You may even be able to hitch a ride with them to BM and join the camp. I'm getting ahead of myself, but it's all about helping each other out.
Anyway, wish you the best. There's a good deal of info on hear and a wealth of knowledge fro mall these kind people. TAke advantage of them. I mean of it.
Please forgive me...this cubicle has stolen portions of my mind and my soul