Are You Prepared?

Have you prepared for Burning Man?

Preparing for Burning Man is a multi-step, mystical, many splendored thing that is nearly impossible to do. Even veteran Burners struggle with getting prepared each year. In some ways nobody is ever really prepared for Burning Man. However: These are not those ways. What follows are some basic questions that every Melon should ask themselves at least once as they get ready to head out to the Black Rock Desert.


Have you got a ticket?

If yes , continue!

If no , go read this.

Have you registered to be a Melon AND paid your Melon dues?

If yes , continue!
If no , go do that please.

Have you got a way to get to the Playa?

If yes , continue!
If no , go read this.

Have you got a non-pedestrian means of on-playa transportation?

If yes , continue!
If no , the Melons highly recommend you do! Black Rock City is a not a small town and while you can - and, at least once, should! - experience it on foot (or on an art car!), having another means of transport is highly recommended!

Specifically we recommend you use a bicycle. Without approval from the Department of Mutant Vehicles you can’t just drive your car/RV/motorbike around the Playa. And Segways and their ilk are, well... no comment.  

  • BUT: You probably don’t want to bring your fancy-schmancy bike from home because while the very fine and very alkaline dust of the Black Rock Desert is very easy to bike on it is also very hard on bikes. Honestly the average Human Burner would likely be happiest riding - and least likely to constantly have to be fixing over the course of a week - a simple beach cruiser, which can be bought for a little over $100 in stores near you. Seriously, YOU WANT A BEACH CRUISER.  The simpler the better

  • BUT: You DO NOT have to buy a bike: 

    • Renting bikes on the playa is a very good, though not the cheapest, option (see next question).
    • And there is Black Rock City’s bicycle share bikes, the green-painted "Yellow Bikes." However, depending on finding Yellow Bikes on the playa when you need them, especially later in the week, is nearly a fool’s errand. You’ll be happier with your own wheels!

Have you got a lock for your non-pedestrian means of transportation?

If yes , continue!
If no , you should get one! Not because theft is rampant at Burning Man but because people there are simply so many bikes out there folks in altered states might simply walk off with your unlocked beach cruiser thinking it is theirs. Put a lock on it (even with the lock not necessarily locked!) and they are much, much less likely to do so!

Have you got a way to get your non-pedestrian means of transportation to the Playa?

If yes , continue!
If no , here are two options for you:
  • Bring it with you. This is pretty self-explanatory! And you don’t even have to be driving your own car or RV to do it. For an extra fee you can bring your own bike on the Burner Express Buses from Reno and SF or in the Melon Trailer from Chicago!

    • BUT: If you are driving to the playa in your own car or RV with bicycles please be careful to not obstruct your license plate! Especially entering Black Rock City, Law Enforcement Officers just love to pull Burners over for driving with license plates obstructed by bicycles on bicycle racks. Don't give them the excuse.

  • Rent it. There are a few camps on the Playa that support themselves by renting out many hundreds of bikes each year to Burners just like you. It isn’t always cheap (if you know you will be Burning two years in a row it is cheaper to ship and store a bike with the Melons in Chicago!) but it is very dependable and very easy. Just be sure to sign up well before the Burn because they do run out of bikes. Personally many Melons have previously had great experiences with renting from Hammer & Cyclery camp. Check them out!


Have you got something to sleep in?

If yes , continue!
If no , you probably want to think hard about this. Specifically, about what you need to sleep comfortably. Not everyone needs the same things! Some fairies don’t really even sleep at Burning Man except to power nop in hammocks. Some people need a solid ten hours of perfectly air-conditioned, pitch-black slumber or they are The Worst. Don’t be The Worst! Some sleeping options, seen above, you might mull include:
  • A tiny tent. Ain’t nothing wrong with this classic set-up which works for many a Burner. However do remember the desert floor is hard and can cold at night, so you might want to mull a mat to lay your head on.

  • A bigger tent. It’s like a tiny tent, but bigger!

  • A yurt. Aren’t we fancy!

  • Your car. People do this. You probably don’t want to though? The less Playa dust you get into contact with your vehicle the happier you will be. 

  • Your RV. Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em?

Have you got something warm to wear?

If yes , continue!
If no , you should. Yes, Burning Man takes place in a desert that gets hot as fuck in the daytime. But that same desert is also at an altitude of 3,907 feet (1,191 meters). And some years it gets colder than a witch’s tit at night. Sure, some years it doesn't get cold at all, but in 2015 water literally froze at night on the Playa. A warm jacket, a hat and some solid socks don't take up much room and go a long way.

Have you got glow?

Or, put another way, will you be well-lit enough at night that if you were to decide to sit down in the middle of the pitch black deep Playa to contemplate Black Rock City in the distance, the cosmos above and the very nature of existence that you would not run the slightest chance of being invisible to the potentially tipsy guy from Tasmania driving an art car that looks like a baboon presenting itself to the moon?

If yes , continue!
If no , you need to deal with this before you do any further shopping or planning. Cars are real! As far as self-reliance goes, not being a darktard is one of the most important things a Burner can do. And there are so many ways you can stay lit up at night, the most popular means being a string of el-wire or two (or ten). Want help figuring out how to stay lit? Ask other melons on Facebook!
Still: One way of staying lit we would highly recommend you NOT use, are glow sticks. While glow sticks are fun, look cool, and have their uses in the default world they also are not environmentally friendly and, even worse, are highly likely to fall off you over the course of the night. Which means MOOP that somebody else will have to pick up. Which sucks. Don't use glow sticks.

Have you got a general packing list?

If yes , continue!
If no , our basic packing list is a good place to start.

Have you thought about outfits you might want to bring in addition to your general packing list?

If yes , continue!
If no , that’s okay too! The most important thing on the playa is just to be yourself. For some people that means wearing extravagant get-ups they spend months working on. For some people that means wearing very tight things to show off bodies they’ve spent months working out. For some people that means wearing a kimono they’ve spent months working to pay for. And for some people that means shirt-cocking.
There is no wrong answer (except, arguably, shirt-cocking).
Our advice would be to go to a thrift store and buy some things you’d want to wear. Worse comes to worse you won’t wear it. And anyway, there are actually quite a few places to get fun pieces on playa - if you are willing to model at least.

Have you considered your 10 hours of contribution to camp?

If yes , continue!
If no , you probably want to go and read this.

Have you thought about ways in which you can volunteer on the Playa?

If yes , continue!
If no , we've got some ideas for you right over here.

Have you thought about what food you’ll need on the Playa?

If yes , continue!

If no , now is as good a time as any! But also the truth of the matter is that - for a variety of reasons - you will find that you won't get that hungry on the Playa. After all you’ll be getting a big hearty dinner each night with the Melons (except for the night of the Temple burn), one of which you will be helping prepare! And there is a shockingly large number of food options available around Black Rock CIty at all hours (seriously, you can get everything from breakfasttime crepes to brunchtime pancakes to lunchtime penis-popsciles to teatime takoyaki to dinnertime pickle tastings not to mention Midnight poutine, pre-dawn bacon, freshly-butchered goats roasted over the ashes of the Man, and anything else you can think of). Still, you probably want a few snacks just your own: think salty things (seaweed strips) or proteins (jerky of any kinds). But also Melons will talk more about this closer to the Burn.

Have you thought about how much booze you'll need on the Playa?

If yes , continue! 

If no , then now is as good a time as any! Like food, booze is something you probably won't want on the playa as much as you expect* and it is something that you'll be able to get all over the City. But it is also something you might want to have some of your own to share and enjoy. How much exactly, however, is really something you'll need to answer for yourself. Maybe ask on the Melon Facebook group for some guidance? And remember: if you bring glass bottles into camp then you have to bring that glass out!  


*Despite its wild reputation, Burning Man is actually a quite reasonable place to experience without drugs or alcohol. Lots of Melons burn that way! Honestly, there is just so much going on! And if you need help staying dry on the playa, well, there is an entire clean and sober Anonymous Village in Black Rock City. Burn the way you want to!


Advice from past melons: 

  • 10 Tips:

1. Wait to get an orientation until you are settled, have peed, had water, etc. :) Then you will be ready to learn about where you are.

2. Bring food. You might be really hungry.

3. If you have an air mattress, bring a rechargeable pump. (Or a car pump if you are driving.)

4. Try to come for enough time that you have one full day with no volunteer shifts or other scheduled things so you can really explore and see where your bike takes you.

5. Bring melon-y clothing.

6. For real, honestly, definitely - do NOT have a work day the day after you get back. Everyone says it, and it's true.

7. Sleep sometimes, otherwise you'll start to feel like crap.

8. Drink water/electrolytes constantly, including in the car/bus on your way and right after arrival.

9. Bring lots and lots of wipes. 

10. If you've never been to BM before, get ready for it to include some lows as well as highs, and to be tough to adjust to physically and mentally. It's okay if things seem more terrible than amazing at any point! It's worth it ultimately.

  • Be on top of dues the date and moment it opens up. We are hitting full occupancy faster than the Main Sale.
  • Be open and know that it is not all sunshine and rainbows. Self care is important and looks different for everyone. Think about what makes you feel better at home and see how you can replicate a little bit of that on the playa.
  • Be part of this wonderful community and act proactively building it!
  • Be super prepared for the dust potentially getting into the nose and sinuses, potential nosebleeds and trouble breathing, etc. Also be mentally/emotionally prepared for the constant 24/7 sound and music. I love music but it was sometimes unnerving to not be able to get any peace/quiet from the sound and it was  just somewhat unexpected.
  • Bring a decent sized tent and an air mattress. Everything will get crazy dusty. Spend some time on your own. Stay hydrated.
  • Bring enough packaged food that you *could* survive even if you missed half the dinners and nobody gifted you anything.
  • Do your best not to be overwhelmed with the amount of things going on. And maybe more specific to introverts like myself but there are a lot of cool people in the melons so dont be shy about joining the fun. The melons are good at radical inclusion.
  • Expect the unexpected
  • Follow a packing checklist. Read PDFs about camp and take a small quiz after each section?
  • Give back. Dream big. Do It Yourself.
  • Honestly, the XVC does such a good job with the preparation--telling people how much work is required, giving people the resources to do their best--I have nothing to add. 
  • Inform them about the use of shower / bathrooms. How the food concept is working.
  • Just go with it. And say yes! To everything & everyone.
  • Meet people! Get involved! We're all super friendly.
  • Meloning is a lot of work.
  • Pace yourself! Get some sleep!
  • Read all melon emails and the site! Ask questions! Participate! ENSURE YOU KNOW YOU ARE BRINGING EVERYTHING YOU WILL NEED. When you get into camp, start saying hi and helping out. We're all here to participate and experience this crazy thing together, and by being here, you're part of the fam.
  • Read everything before you arrive. Embrace the serendipity once you hit playa. Fuck tetrapaks (and also fruit stickers).
  • Read everything, work with your melon sponsor, trust the process…
  • Read the binders when you have downtime in camp. 
  • Because the Melons provide a really smooth entry into the Burn, and anyone in a shocking new environment isn't pre-disposed to "recognize and do" tasks outside of their comfort zone, it's important to pay attention for opportunities to help when you see it.
  • Read up on all the information provided. Ask a lot of questions. Make sure you bring the resources you need for your own survival.
  • read, research, participate
  • Really spend some time thinking about the 10 principles.
  • Research weather ahead of time. Use a lot of different formats for research, including YouTube videos and chat forums for packing lists and do's/don'ts.
  • Self mother fucking care above all.
  • Talk with as many campmates, you're not alone!
  • The melons are the best camp.
  • To bring something personal to share with camp. I had one really hard day, and the best bright spot was sharing a snack i brought with people, and seeing how happy it made them and how thankful they were. You can't always have happiness, but you can always give happiness.
  • Try to go out with some melons for at least one adventure
  • Try to simulate your experience / anticipate and get as many questions answered as you can upfront. Ask for other melons packing lists -- have them review yours to see what's excessive/missing. Ask them what they did wrong or wish they brought/did more of their first year. Try to get clarity on appropriate guidelines for composting/waste. Don't be afraid to ask for help in the beginning, because the earlier you learn, the more time you can spend helping/teaching others. It's okay to venture off and do your own thing while you're there. Try to meet and get to know as many Melons as you can - try to make everyone feel welcome, especially if they're arriving later in the week and don't know anyone yet.
  • Volunteer more at camp and outside of camp!
  • Walk around during the day.  Stop by the DMV on Saturday or Sunday to see all the art cars lined up.
  • You gotta put yourself out there. We are a friendly bunch but if you show up mid-burn and you're expecting everyone to welcome you with open arms, remind yourself that most of us haven't slept in several days and are probably coming down (or going back up?) on something. The burn is for you, and we've been waiting for you. So welcome home, but also: fuck your burn.
  • your primary job is not to die in the desert. Everything after that is a contribution.

Have you got any other questions we didn't cover here?

If yes , huzzah! Questions are good! Have you looked around the rest of the Burning Melon website to see if it is answered there? Otherwise, email the XVC or ask on the Melon Facebook page and we'll try and answer it!

If no , you must be so proud!