How to Become a Burner or My First Burning Man Experience…

I remember feeling amazement when I first heard about the Burning Man festival. It was late 2008 when YouTube was only three years old, Instagram didn't even exist and Facebook was still catching up to Myspace. Blogging was still not a thing and the only place you could actually read some travel blogs were at custom blogging platforms like Livejournal. So there I was one day at Livejournal, reading about a guy taking a road trip across Norway when I suddenly came across a new post that caught my attention. An event taking place in a desert in the USA, in the middle of nowhere with thousands of people either half naked or dressed up in different costumes dancing around huge art installations.

How to Become a Burner or My First Burning Man Experience…

Let's go through some details. What in the world is Burning Man? How can you get there? Is it worth it? How expensive is it? Do you actually have to be a crazy hippie to apply for such an event? In other words - how do you become a burner?

What is Burning Man?

What is Burning Man?

No, it's not a music festival nor is it an art festival. It also has absolutely nothing in common with Tomorrowland, Coachella, Ultra and other festivals you might have heard of. As described by its organizers, Burning Man is an “annual experiment in temporary community dedicated to radical self-expression and radical self-reliance”.

The major difference between Burning Man and other festivals is that typically you are just an observer where you can come in and enjoy the show, while at Burning Man you are part of the event and you can interact in it in as many ways as possible. This means, you can speak to anyone you’d like, do anything you want, sing, dance, perform, educate, transform while being an integral part of the community.

So how do we get tickets?

After you register you have several options.

1. Apply for a low-income ticket. These tickets are reserved for participants who have a limited income who cannot otherwise afford the regular priced ticket. These tickets are non-transferrable and available by application only. The price for this ticket is $190 excluding tax. Once you fill out and send the application, you will have to wait for around two months before you get a response.

2. Apply for a regular ticket. This is a ticket that you buy on a specific date. It costs $425 excluding tax. The problem is that there is not always enough of these tickets and they all get sold out during the first hours of sale. There are several smaller sales later on but you need to follow the schedule to know exactly when they start.

3. Get a limited $1,200 ticket, excluding tax, that you can purchase approximately two months before the event. These tickets are much easier to buy but they are pretty expensive.

How to get there?

You have an option to take a Burner Express Bus. It leaves from Reno and San Francisco. At first, you might think that this is a cheaper option but the bus only allows a limited amount of luggage. If you are planning to bring a lot of stuff with you, it can be rather difficult and expensive. Of course if all you have is a couple of bags, then you're good to go. But the most popular way to get there that most people go by is driving themselves.

People rent cars, SUVs and RVs from all the nearby towns. Some people drive from Los Angeles, others from San Francisco. We rented our SUV in San Francisco. From there it's around a 4-hour drive to Reno, which is the closest city to the Black Rock desert, where the festival is located. Reno is the place where you purchase your final goods, fill up your gas tank, have your last decent meal at a restaurant and begin your journey onwards. It's another 3-hour drive from Reno, where there will be almost no towns and very limited stores.

What to bring to Burning Man?

I'm not going to go through all of the things that you can possibly take to Burning Man, but these are just the major ones that you can start thinking about:

1. Water - make sure to bring a lot of water (besides booze) with you. After all, it's a desert.

2. Food - food for the week that won't go bad or doesn't need cooking, since fires are not allowed. Of course this doesn’t apply if you're renting an RV that has a fridge, stove and other amenities. But for us, because we didn't have an RV, we had to follow the procedure.

3. Different costumes, dust masks, sunglasses, napkins, warm clothes, and anything else that will protect you from the dust, freezing nights and the blazing hot sun.

4. Bicycle - it's the only method of transportation once you’re there.

5. A good mood. If you don't have that, you might as well turn around and leave. The main idea of Burning Man is to leave all of your troubles behind.

What do we do there for the entire week?

What do we do there for the entire week?

First of all, the grounds at Burning Man consists of two parts - the camp where all the camps are located, and the playa, the section of the desert with all the different art installations.

The camps is where all the activities happen during the day. For example, some camps have yoga lessons, others have volleyball, dancing classes, meditation sessions, geology lectures, shooting exercises, bowling, reading, bouldering, and space exploration. The list goes on and on. In addition, you’ll also be able to find different food, drinks and plenty of alcohol in the camps.

So the entire week consists of exploring the city, finding new attractions, challenges or just places to chill. By the end of the week, we knew exactly where to go for a good cup of morning coffee and fresh hot bread and then onto the activities for the day. The activities always ended with an afternoon nap before the start of the night.

Pros and Cons

Besides all these fantastic experiences we had, there were a few cons. The temperatures in the desert are pretty extreme. It can be scorching hot in the daytime and absolutely freezing at night. Then there are dust storms. After all, we knew we were in the middle of a desert. But keep in mind, once the storm hits you, and it will, your entire body will be covered in dust that you won't be able to wash off for weeks. So, you'd better be prepared to have some kind of mask, protection glasses and other things that will help cover you up.

Also be careful with the gadgets that you bring. Bringing a phone might be fine, but if you’re thinking about bringing a DSLR camera, it probably won't survive the dust. In addition, there is a no drone policy, so don't risk bringing a drone and being arrested for flying it illegally.



Some say that at Burning Man you can be anyone and do anything while you’re there. But, there are some basic rules and principles.

1. No money policy. Once you're in the festival grounds, money is not exchanged. Forget your wallet. Everything people give is 100% free. You don't even have to give anything back. You can if you want, but you don't have to.

2. Leave no trace - clean up after yourself and leave the space better than when you arrived. You can't even dump water on the ground. Leave everything as it was before you.

3. No drugs. I'm not going to say that there are no drugs at Burning Man but officially they are forbidden. If rangers (and there are a lot of them) find any on you, you will get punished according to all the laws of Nevada’s Federal Land.

4. No pets. Simple as that.

5. You can leave at any time you want but if you have such thoughts, you should consider if it's even a good idea for you to come in the first place.

6. Have fun. No aggression. This is the place where you leave all your troubles behind.

7. There is no cellular data or internet. Like at all. Some camps have private wifi networks, but in general, people try to disconnect from the outside world.

Who comes to Burning Man

Who comes to Burning Man

It’s open to anyone and everyone. I've seen babies under 1-years of age with their parents and I believe the oldest man reported there was 96 years old. So, age and gender doesn’t matter. What matters is your mentality. If you seek to escape the modern world, willing to express yourself, have a unique and creative mind, or just an extrovert willing to find similar souls – then this is the place for you. You don't have to be a hippie to go there - but of course if you are or want to be you can.

Burning Man might have the reputation for being “full of hippies”, but some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley have reportedly attended the event. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, attended on more than one occasion.

 Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has also been a Burner, according to The Times.

The End

The End

The festival goes on for an entire week. The main event takes place on the second to last day where the man burns. It's the biggest celebration that everyone waits for because there’s a massive fire show and fireworks. All the art cars and people gather around ‘the man’ to watch him burn and then afterwards continue partying until sunrise. The last day is the day when they burn the temple, the place behind ‘the man’ where people can be in sorrow, meditate, and leave their past behind. In the end, everything gets burned to remind us that everything will come to an end one day. It's a sad day where you can see that everyone is getting ready to leave, dismantling their art and preparing to return to the real world – the "default world" as they call it.

How expensive it is?

In 2016, CNBC estimated that the total cost of attending could range from $1,300 to $20,000 – which includes transportation, food, camp fees, costumes, and gifts. So yes - Burning Man is a pretty expensive event. Depending on where you’re travelling from, it can cost you around $2,500 or more as of 2019. If you're coming from outside the States and you are flying, then the costs are going to be even higher.

The conclusion

The conclusion

Burning Man is a one of a kind event. It brings together all kinds of people with different beliefs and interests and puts them all together into one community where they can all interact, connect, help and support each other, and become one big family in the end.

We were just two people when we came to Burning Man and by the time we left, we had met countless interesting people from all over the world, heard hundreds of interesting stories, and had established many new friendships that we have kept until today. In the end, Burning Man is not about music, art or free food. It's about the people you meet who eventually become your closest friends. I've never met so many awesome people in one place. It's the community that makes Burning Man the best festival in the world.

Burning Man 2018

Our Burning Man 2018 video overview - Enjoy!

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Written by

I’ve been travelling ever since a was a child but my first large trip was at the age of 13 when I was sent to live for a couple months to London. This trip has changed me and ever since I just want to see more and more of our beautiful world. Every trip gives me new emotions, charge and strength to keep going further.

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