Preparing for the Magic

My Personal BM Survival Guide

  1. You will not be able to see the whole festival, no matter how fast you peddle, or what transportation you may have, it’s huge, apart from the playa, you will see many themed camps, monuments, art installations and more magical creations. Thus, forget the need to try and see everything and instead cherish every moment, as this is the biggest gift this week will offer you. Moments that can’t happen anywhere but in BM and these are the things you will bring back with you, not the achievement of viewing every work of art.                      
  2. It’s ok to get lost. Whether you came with family, close friends, far friends, or anyone else, know that there is a possibility you will get lost, it’s part of the magic. There will be thousands of people moving from one place to another, so trying to find your group again is close to impossible, maybe you know where they went so you can meet them there, but if you don’t, don’t stress, getting lost is one of the best things that can happen, because unlike other places, this place will feel like home, everyone is your friend, the notion of strangers evaporate in Burning-man and this is one of the unique elements of this special community. I once heard a phrase I related to: “Burning-man is where I got lost, not to get found but to recreate myself”

3. “What you need the playa provides” is something you may hear often in the festival, and from my experience this is so true. I'll share 2 of my personal stories: 

A. I was riding with my friend, we were on our way to see a DJ we like. Suddenly I hear my friend yelling “Stop! My bike broke down” and surly enough, the bike bent and the tire was stuck, as we were trying figure out what to do next, our group of friends suddenly spotted us, (also on their way to see the DJ) and came to help. We got a good laugh with our attempts but the bike seemed like it finished it’s cycle. This happened near a mini stage, one we haven’t stopped at before. Suddenly out of nowhere, Carl Cox comes on the stage and starts playing. He is one of our favorite DJ’s, we had no idea he was playing there as it wasn’t one of the known stages. We ended up staying there for another 4 hours dancing to his set with all our friends around. Everyone thanked us for the bike situation as they would've never known he was playing there. A plan that went wrong led us to one of the best playa moment I ever had, part of it was the fact that it was so unexpected.

B. My friend and I were at Robot Heart “deep playa” all night, far from our camp, and it was already noon, needless to say we were dead tired, and extremely hungry. We began peddling weakly in the hot sun and I felt like I was about to faint, we were talking about how food is the highest currency in the desert, and she said let’s see if we could find something on the way. As a vegan, I knew that most camps offered things I couldn’t eat anyway, so I gave up on that dream, when suddenly, we hear someone yelling “ice-cream” I wasn’t as excited as her due to my vegan consideration, as we approached the guy, he was asked us “do you girls want some vegan ice cream?” it was truly one the most blessed moments I ever had in my life. This deepened my understanding of the saying “what you need the playa provides”. I ended up eating like 5 scoops.

  1. Don’t underestimate the power of food, water, shower, and sleep. All these which we practice on regular basis  become the lowest of our priorities at Burning-man. But all of them are very necessary to fuel your body and keep yourself going. Shower everyday, and if you don’t have the resources, wet wipes are also a good option, this is one of the moments you reboot yourself and prepare for the next journey. Second, is sleep, I am not saying go for a full 7 hour sleep, nor do you have to attempt this irrational act everyday, but don’t forget your body needs to rest, and if you don’t feel like going back to your camp just find a comfy couch to nap on, a hammock, a shady monument, and rest, you'll have plenty of creative spots to nap on. One of my favorite is a couch about 20 feet up in the air. Food- this is your fuel and I mean it, the amount of energy and exhaustion your body will go through, is nothing like any other experience, don’t underestimate your need for food. “Food gives you energy” takes on a whole new meaning in these conditions. One of my friends always brought energy bars wherever we went and we all thought it was unnecessary, we couldn’t have been more wrong, after 15 hours of exploring, this was gold. Water, the reason I kept it for last, is because unlike the other things I mentioned water you cannot forget, your body will remind you when it needs water. What I recommend from past experiences, is to get a water pack and have it with you in your backpack at all times, it is the most convenient way to carry liquids and it’s perfect for desert conditions.
  1. Vitamins, this is the best advice I can give you. I don’t take any on a regular basis but when I discovered the power of vitamins this was a significant upgrade for my desert experience. Vitamins are only taken with food which helps you remember to have a at least one meal a day. They help you preserve energy, and remain stronger during longer periods of time. You will feel exhausted and at many times, confused. The conditions in the desert are extreme, which means very hot during the day and very cold during the night (changes from year to year but on average), you will feel tired, dehydrated, lack of sleep, questionable hygiene levels, and dust EVERYWHERE,  breathing becomes a conscious effort. This causes many of us to have occasional headaches, sinus breaks, and general feeling of weakness. All worth it of course, but vitamins will save you. I had the occasional headache every year until I started taking vitamins.

I can share many things about the experience, but words cannot begin to describe what you are about to experience. I hope this helped you in some way or another, feel free to email me anytime and ask anything you want, nothing is taboo.

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Happy Burn!

**For more information, packing tips, survival guide, and personal stories check out this amazing resource