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Burning Man on a Budget



When I first decided to go to Burning Man in 2023, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to afford it. Everything I had heard about the event sounded like it was an event exclusively for rich people who were bored and just wanted to burn cash (maybe literally) in their free time. As I learned more, I realized that this is not the case. There are many ways to get to Burning Man on a budget and still have an amazing experience.



Ticket Aid Program

Burning Man's ticket aid program reserves tickets and vehicle passes at a reduced price for burners who have a limited income and cannot otherwise afford regular-priced tickets. This program requires an application including documents proving your income & expenses Having used the program myself, it makes Burning Man feel much more accessible to be able to at least afford the tickets. Sign up for The Jackrabbit Speaks to keep up with when tickets are available as well as other news.



Start Planning Early

It is important to start planning early to avoid overpaying for things. While you won't be spending much money at the burn itself, it is important to budget for your ticket, transportation and gear.


Make a list of everything you need to pack and mark each item off as you go. This will give you time to be strategic about gathering gear, including cataloging which items you already have, buying them secondhand or on sale, and borrowing from friends or family.





If you're flying, airplane and hotel tickets are cheaper earlier. If you're driving, renting your car ahead of time or getting your personal vehicle checked out by a mechanic can help avoid some of the hidden expenses that often come with going on a road trip. No matter how you get to Burning Man, keeping some funds for last minute items once you get to Reno will help you stay on budget. This can include fresh food, a bike from one of the donation shops, or forgotten items. The Walmart in Reno is a popular destination for burners to stop before they complete their trek to Black Rock City.


Make sure you plan what you will do if things go sideways- consider booking a hotel on the way out to clean up or scheduling an extra day off of work to decompress. This will also be helpful if the unexpected happens and you need to stay late, as happened in 2023.



Work Together

Burning Man is not a normal music festival where you simply pay for a ticket and enjoy the event. By being an active participant in Burning Man, you make the burn better for yourself and everyone. How does this help your budget?

  • Carpool with friends to reduce the line at into and out of Black Rock City. The Burning Man rideshare program can help you find a friend to carpool with.

  • Pitch in on a communal container to get your stuff shipped down.

  • Volunteering or working for Burning Man can help you get free food, lodging, transportation, or amenities like shade, air conditioning and electricity.



Join a Camp

Imagine finding a way to organize for food, water, shade, shelter, electricity, and entertainment all alone in the middle of the desert. Many camps help provide some or all of these things, meaning (depending on your camp) the price of camp dues will likely be lower than you would spend if you had to fully provide for yourself. You will also make friends, feel more grounded, have meetings beforehand to help with logistics and answer questions, and get help ensuring that you have everything you need - including physical accommodations, tickets and gear.



Stick to the Basics - Consider Tent Camping

While it may not be the most comfortable, it can be a good idea to tent camp at least once.


Its hard to dispute that tent camping might be the cheapest way to go. There's no need for a vehicle or vehicle pass, you won't be spending hours in line wasting gas, and it limits the amount of items you can take with you. You can also invest in backpacking bundle with a tent, mattress pad and sleeping bag that will last you for years if you take care of them - this includes cleaning your gear after Burning Man and storing it correctly after use.





When tent camping you have more options for how to get to Burning Man, including taking the bus, carpooling, and even hitch hiking. It also encourages creativity - having such a small space to yourself encourages you to find other places in Black Rock City to nap, eat, hang out, have sex, and find shade. No matter what you do, make sure that you bring your ticket and ID. Read the survival guide for more must haves - it is updated every year.



Go to a Regional Burn

Finally, it can be helpful to go to a regional burn first. At these smaller, shorter events you can try out your gear and meet veteran burners who are more than happy to share advice about surviving on playa. There is also likely a regional burn near you that is closer to your home than actually trekking to Black Rock City, and therefore easier to get to.



Summary

Burning Man embraces radical inclusion - everyone is welcome and respected. As someone who has work harder than most to get on playa, I know that it can feel a bit daunting. But that makes it even more worth it when you finally get there!


Interested in getting on Playa? Learn more about the 10 Principles of Burning Man!





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Hi, I'm Koi!

I'm an environmental project manager who decided to make a change from office life to to outdoor projects and small business ownership.

My goal is to help promote forward movement in outdoor spaces and live events towards full accessibility and diversity by giving everyone the inspiration and tools to create their own adventure.

I love self expression, hiking, music festivals, and Burning Man, and want to show that celebrating diversity in the outdoors makes it better for everyone.

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