Preparing For Burning Man: FREE Guides & Packing Lists

As You Prepare for Burning Man…

Preparing For Burning Man: FREE Guides & Packing Lists
Here Are 4 FREE Guides and
3 Packing Lists You Can Download and Print!

These are geared towards the “somewhat minimalist happy camper”.

I’m sharing  the basic approaches and setup that I’ve used.

(Definitely, there are people who are way MORE minimalist or way MORE comprehensive.)

These lists will be most suitable for newbies and for those who want to be comfortable without investing a huge amount of time or money into their setup.

It’s my gift to you so feel free to share this page with your Burner friends…

Much much love!
xox little woo

Please like this post and share widely! 

Download: 32 Tips For That Week In The Desert
Download: Costume Guide: 9 Things To Inspire Your Creativity
Download: 13 Simple Foods For Burning Man
Download: Guide To Health and Happiness on the Playa

Download: Little Woo’s Burning Man Packing List
Download: LittleWoo’s Tickle Trunk Packing List
Download: LittleWoo’s Burning Man Grocery List

Bonus: Fish’s Burning Man Packing List
                (shared with Fish’ generous permission)

NOTE:  These articles are educational and informational resources for Burners. I make no guarantees about the information and recommendations provided herein. Following any info or suggestions provided here is at your own risk.

Preparing For Burning Man: FREE Guides & Packing ListsPreparing For Burning Man Articles by Little Woo are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Written in 2009.  Most recent update: August 2013  with love from

Preparing For Burning Man: Tips For That Week In The Desert

Preparing For Burning Man: Tips For That Week In The DesertOriginal Post 2009.  Most recent update: August 2013

Before You Leave Town:
10 Important Items

If you are pressed for time, you can at least ensure you have these key items! (Extra toiletries, food and water can be easily acquired on the drive down if needed)

1) Valid ID to enter the USA (passport or enhanced driver’s license etc)
2) Credit card or ATM bank card
3) Some US cash
4) Burning Man ticket (or Will Call information)
5) Any required medicines or medical supplies (but NO illegal drugs)
6) Dust Goggles
7) Travel Medical Insurance Policy Number and Toll Free Claim Number **
8) Cell phone and charger
9) if you are driving:  Route map & Directions, Driver’s license, Car Insurance papers, Extra set of car keys,  Roadside Assistance info
10) Emergency Contact Numbers (Next of kin or close friends)

If you step foot in the US, you’ll want some medical coverage.  One night in a hospital there can cost over $1000.  PC Financial has good single trip medical coverage with no deductible: Call 1-800-826-0339. Prices will range based on your age, province of residence and length of trip. BCAA also offers travel medical coverage at a slightly higher rate for single trip coverage with no deductible – but has a good multi-trip coverage plan if you do many out-of-country trips through the year.  Call BCAA 1-877-325-8888

Download this Guide + my Burning Man Packing List!

32 Tips For That Week In The Desert:

1) Use stainless steel cups, bowls, plates and utensils as they clean more easily than plastic and add aesthetic value to the meal…

2)  Spray bottles
- Have one bottle filled with water + white vinegar for cleaning playa dust from kitchen dishes, tools, gear and your hands/feet etc
- Have another bottle filled with water + a few drops of your favorite essential oil for a refreshing daytime mist to cool-down or as an efficient “shower”!  e.g. My favorite is lavender essential oil

3) Minimize leftover food particles by eating everything off your plates whenever possible.  Spray dishes with a water/vinegar solution before wiping dishes clean with a dish towel.

4) Even with an evaporation pond for all your grey water, aim to keep the water usage to a minimum. Use industrial garbage bags to wrap up the filthy pond liner at end of trip, to minimize the smell…

5) Have 1 clean face towel for each day on the playa. Wet the face towel in the morning to freshen up the face and then use again before bed on your arms, legs and feet. Throw into a laundry bag and start with a fresh face towel the next day.  Having clean feet when going to bed is a particularly delightful feeling and rubbing them with some soothing lotion is nearly orgasmic…

6)  Use sarongs as body towels since they dry very fast, are lightweight and compact.  (I like to bring 3 to 4:  one for the hair, one for the body and one kept my daypack for multi-use as shade or something to sit on)

7)  More comfortable than a sleeping bag are bedsheets and a comforter (if you have space to pack these). Also, having a change of sheets mid-week is such a sweet luxury!

8) Gifting is a great gesture but avoid giving items that are likely be discarded as trash or end up as “moop” (matter out of place) in the desert. A question i ask myself before picking a gift: Is the item meaningful, memorable, useful or beautiful to the one I’m gifting?  A joyful mindset or a helping hand are non-physical gifts that don’t take up space in the landfill.  e.g. gift your compassionate listening skills when someone needs to be heard or gift your time and energy to help someone setup or cleanup.

9) Don’t bring anything too fragile or breakable. (costume, tools, decor, cherished items)

10) If you are concerned about getting dust in your nice camera, Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) has some products that offer your camera some waterproof/dustproof protection: prices range $17-50 depending on what you choose.  Visit the kayak/paddling gear area for the waterproofing items. MEC is at 130 West Broadway, Vancouver (604) 872-7858

11)  Giant Plastic Bins (e.g. Rubbermaid bins) is commonly used as storage for clothing and gear.  Mark your bins with your name and email if you are camping with others or sharing space.

12) Wear boots instead of sandals when traveling out of your camp area…Keeps your feet clean from the caustic playa dust (which can cause cracking and bleeding in some people’s feet).

13) Have a pair of flip flops for lounging at your camp and for showering.

14) Have a complete set of clean clothes for the trip home in a separate sealed bag. (include clean underwear, socks and shoes!)

15) Include a sewing kit for quick fixes or for completing costumes by hand on the long drive down

16) Plastic Set of Drawers (e.g. available at Canadian Tire or Superstore) to keep small items.
E.g. one drawer for toiletries, one drawer for kitchen tools and one drawer for setup tools.

17) Alarm Clock AND a Watch:  I find it’s useful to have an alarm clock in my sleep area for keeping my Burning Man sleep schedule and a watch in my backpack for attending special events that do have a start time.  If we are not enslaved by time-keeping, a watch is a very useful tool.

18) Get a quiet battery-powered fan that you can use if sleeping between 7am-10am or for afternoon naps – really keeps it cooler in your vehicle or tent. The one my partner and I found is about 10 inches high and quiet.  Stores like Canadian Tire, Superstore, Walmart should have options…

19) For women:  I highly recommend learning how to use the Diva Cup or the Keeper (for menstruation) at least a month before the festival.  I’ve used mine since year 2000 and it’s one of the best products I ever bought in my life!  Available at most local health food stores such as Sweet Cherubim, Drive Organics, Choices, Whole Foods etc.

- Very environmental (no tampons/pads dumped into landfills or clogging up porta-potties)
- Very economical (no need to buy tampons/pads and a cup lasts over a decade)
- Very comfortable when used correctly
- No leaking when used correctly
- Very compact (fits in your purse when traveling)
- Much healthier and can be easily cleaned
- Can be kept in overnight (no Toxic Shock Syndrome risks)
- Can be used while swimming
- Great for both light and heavy menstruation

20) Ora-MD drops (liquid toothpaste): I love this product as well. You don’t need to rinse out after brushing as the essential oils continue to work in your mouth through the day.  Tastes great and works really well.  Perfect for camping or regular use (note: our bodies need breaks from essential oil use so switching off occasionally is helpful).

- All natural, 100% pure, herbal toothpaste, mouthwash and breath freshener.
- The main ingredients are peppermint oils, spearmint and almond
- Cleans teeth, gums and mouth of bacteria causing germs, cleans plaque and relieves gum disease, gingivitis, bleeding gums and bad breath
- Small compact bottle, lasts about a month (at 2 drops per use)
- Allow several weeks to ship from the US

21) Ear-Plugs For Sleeping & Dancing:  High-fidelity earplugs (like ones from Etymotic) are great for use on the dance floor or whenever you need to cut down the noise level.

- Affordable but allow time to ship from the US.  (do a bulk order with friends)
- Reduces sound levels evenly (music/speech are clear not muffled)
- There is even an option for people with narrow ear canals like me! (most foam ones pop out of my ears). Not suited for sleeping as the hard plastic end protrudes from your ear.
- The common foam ones (or better yet, the silicone moldable ones) are good for sleeping as they muffle everything and are soft.

22) Have a small backpack that you carry everywhere with all your essential items:
- water bottle
- camera (labeled with your email address & camp name/address if applicable)
- snacks (my favorite backpack snacks are beef jerky and dried mango)
- reusable mug (people may gift you a drink but you must have your own mug)
- lipbalm + small bottle of hand lotion
- goggles and bandana (for dust storms)
- sarong (helpful as shade and to sit on if needed)
- sunglasses
- headlamp
- medications if needed
- small bottle of hand sanitizer
- roll of single-ply toilet paper (they sometimes run out of paper + double-ply will clog porta-potties)
- earplugs (for those really loud soundstages)
- condoms/lube
- a watch (if you have responsibilities or want to attend specific workshops)
- gum or mints
- notebook + pen
- small folding fan
- Burning Man “what where when” booklet (you’ll receive this at the gate)

23)  Contact Lenses & Glasses
- Use disposable soft lenses since the dust is harsh on contact lenses.  Wear a fresh pair after a few days or at end of the week.
- If you wear hard contact lenses, ensure you put on your dust goggles during a storm!
- Always bring a pair of glasses as backup

24) Basic Lighting:
- Have solar garden lights around your camp (around your vehicle or your tent)
- Have a headlamp handy in your backpack
-Put lights on your backpack AND on your bike so others can see you at night (especially so other cyclists and art cars don’t run over you!)
- Strands of lights powered by a small battery pack (AA) can be bought at places like Home Hardware on Commercial Drive (they stock it every year at this time for Burners) or solar powered strands of lights are often found at IKEA.
- Bring sufficient batteries for your various lights, camera, etc.

25)  Shade Structures, Shade Cloth & Stakes
You can build various types of shade structures but two very popular options are car ports and  “Monkey Huts”.  Other common options are self-built yurts and domes.

Midland Liquidators in Vancouver BC have some solid options:

More about Monkey Huts:

Aluminet Shade Cloth:  This type of “shade cloth” cuts out a significant portion of the heat/sunlight yet allows some wind to pass through the fibers.  A quick search online provides many Aluminet options.  You probably have to order online from the US so allow lots of time for shipping.  (A few years ago, a friend helped us buy two pieces approx 7 x 15 feet each) to create a shade structure over our van.)

Here is one company that looks good price-wise and quality-wise at a glance:

Staking Your Shade Structures:

26)  Tools, Cords, Ropes and Straps
- A sledgehammer to pound stakes and rebar into the ground.
- zap straps are great for many purposes but especially useful  for securing lights onto shade structures, backpacks and bikes.
- Heavy duty rope for tying down structures etc
- Bungee cords for multi-purpose use
- A tool kit  (e.g. screwdriver, hammer, wrench, pliers etc)
- A pair of work gloves to protect your hands during setup and tear down…

27)  Tent & Mattress
- If you are camping in a tent, then ensure it is a high-enough quality to withstand the strong winds at Burning Man
- A larger tent is useful for containing all your gear AND so you don’t cook in a tiny tent in the hot mornings
- If possible, bring a second tent to hold your bins of stuff
- Also, a tent with very little or no mesh is best (since you wish to block the dust as much as possible)
- A shade structure over your tent is very helpful if you wish to sleeping anytime after 7am…
- Make sure you check your air mattress for holes and bring a repair kit OR use a foam mattress instead

28)  Bicycle
- Having a bike on the playa is very useful to cover larger distances or for speedy trips to a workshop or camp
- However, if you really cannot bring one, walking around has its advantages (like being able to see things or meet people that you otherwise would have missed on a bike)
- You can also catch the occasional lift from art cars when you are not on a bike

Useful accessories for your Bike:
- A kickstand to prop up for quick stops
- A basket often comes in handy  e.g.  carrying ice blocks for your cooler
- Light strands and a spotlight so art cars and other bikes can see you at night.
- Bike lock (most people are not planning to steal a bike but if they are intoxicated or sleepy, they might mistakenly take your bike if it’s not locked)

29) Get Most of Your Food in the US
It’s nice to get some special items that you may only be able to get in your local area but if you can, purchase most of your groceries in the US.  You cannot bring vegetables or meat over the border anyway and you can buy all that you need (food and water) once you’re closer to the destination.  This will reduce your gas consumption as your load is lighter for most of the way down.  (and grocery prices are reasonable in the US)   Read the Burning Man website for tips on amount of water to bring… (remember that you  need water for drinking, cooking and showering)

30)  Label Your Expensive Gear
a) Label your camera or other gear with your  email address, camp name + camp address if possible. Most people will return an item if you make it easy for them to find you.

b) Label your phone with your email address (in case battery dies) and in your cell phone directory,  add the listing “Home phone” or “Owner of this Phone”.  (Use a different number where they can reach you or leave a message.)

31)  Back up Your Computer
Might be a good time to back up important files on additional hard drives or on your cloud accounts (e.g. Zipcloud or Dropbox).

32)  Autoresponders and Voicemail Greetings
If you are able to, set autoresponders on your email addresses to let people know you are offline until a specified date.  Also set your voicemail on extended absence greeting.  (unless you plan to find wifi hotspots everyday at Burning Man – not the greatest reception there and perhaps not the best use of your time at Burning Man!

Helpful Links: 
Even if you’ve been to Burning Man before, some of these links are helpful to review!

Survival Guide
Radial Self-Reliance: What To Pack
More Packing tips
About the Elements
Recommended Reading
First Timer’s Guide
the Burning Man forum (Q&A and info)
Driving to Burning Man: Directions
Different Driving Route Options

Much much love!
xox little woo

Download this Guide + my Burning Man Packing List

Related Articles:

Costume Guide! 9 Things To Inspire Your Creativity

13 Simple Foods for Burning Man

Health and Happiness on the Playa

These articles are educational and informational resources for Burners. I make no guarantees about the information and recommendations provided herein. Following any info or suggestions provided here is at your own risk.

Preparing For Burning Man: Tips For That Week In The DesertTips For That Week In The Desert by Little Woo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at

~ Written in 2009.  Most recent update: August 2013  with love from ~

Preparing For Burning Man: 13 Simple Foods

Original Post 2009.  Most recent update: August 2013Preparing For Burning Man: 13 Simple Foods

13 Simple Foods
for Burning Man

Below are some of my food tips for EASY food options on the playa… great for those who wish to simplify while at Burning Man.

Download this Guide + my Burning Man Grocery List

Note:  I buy a few special items in my home town but do most of my grocery shopping in the US. Since you can’t take meat or veggies over the border anyway, you might as well benefit from the decent prices south of the border and enjoy the grocery pit stops on the long drive down!

1) Fresh Veggies:  I buy these in the US at the last pit stop before Burning Man.  For me, that’s the Trader Joe’s in Bend, Oregon. It’s a favorite stop for Burners to stock up on food and water so you’ll see many references to it in this article.  Get just enough veggies for salads or stir-fries that can be eaten in the first few days.  (unless you have a system to keep food really cold for a week)  Pre-washed lettuce is a bonus!

2) Bagged Curries (no refrigeration required and pre-cooked).
~ Many brands to choose from and they all seem similar in quality. Tasty Bite and Ashoka brands range $2.50 to $4 per box.  Trader Joe’s has its own bagged curries too.  Available at most major grocery stores.
~ 1 bag = 1 person’s big meal (or can be shared between 2 people for a more modest amount)
~ Place the bag directly in water and boil for 5 minutes approx. Then peel open bag and serve on top of quinoa or rice…
Read more

Preparing For Burning Man: Costume Guide! 9 Things To Inspire Your Creativity

Preparing For Burning Man:  Costume Guide! 9 Things To Inspire Your CreativityOriginal Post 2009.  Most recent update: August 2013

Costume Guide! 9 Things To Inspire Your Creativity

Download this Guide + my Tickle Trunk Packing List

The costuming mojo at this festival is infamous as many people love to dress up in wild and wonderful outfits…

However, not every Burner wants to participate in this form of self-expression!  Remember, some people will NOT be in costumes yet they contribute in other amazing ways.

Never judge a Burner by their costume or lack thereof…

But if costuming sparks your creativity and your sense of play, please read on for my costuming tips!!!

1) Follow Your Fetish and Tickle Your Own Aesthetic

To determine your costume repertoire, think of real life or fantasy themes you enjoy, archetypes that mean something to you and favorite physical elements like texture and color.

What costumes would delight your Aesthetic Joy Buzzer? 
Choose something that really appeals to YOUR personal style, not because it’s typical “Burning Man” style or something trendy.

e.g. In 2002, I started to wear fun fur, tutus and costumes purely for my own enjoyment.  It wasn’t until 2006 that I heard about the “Burning Man style” and saw others dressing this way too. Talk about finding your tribe!!!  WOWZAS!

Picking random costumes and accessories is alright but it’s better if you love what you create!  It’s way more fun to invest time and energy in its creation and it’s less likely to become trash (i.e. disposable).

What Are Some Of Your Fetishes?
Favorite characters from books, films, history etc
Favorite archetypes (human or non-human)
Favorite topics or themes
Favorite eras
Favorite art forms or art pieces
Favorite moods
Favorite colors, textures, materials
Favorite fashions and design styles
Favorite stories

Read more

Preparing For Burning Man: Health and Happiness on the Playa

Original Post 2011.  Most recent update: August 2013

Guide to Health and Happiness on the Playa
Download/Print this Guide

Preparing For Burning Man: Health and Happiness on the Playa1) Getting Sufficient Sleep At Burning Man  (It is possible!)

My basic sleep schedule on Mon-Tues-Wedn at the event:
- Go to bed around 1am and get up around 8am.
- It’s a chance to enjoy the early morning activities at the Burn because later in the week, I switch to my nighttime schedule to play under the stars!

My basic sleep schedule from Thurs-Sunday:
- Sleep right after dinner when it’s cooler (approx 9pm-1am = 4 hours)
- Get up for the nighttime fun (1am-8am)
- Enjoy the gorgeous desert sunrises (6am)
- Sleep again in the cooler morning hours (8am-11am = 3 hours)

Though I don’t keep to this schedule on a rigid basis, it’s a guideline that allows me to remain in good health during the week at Burning Man and even return home rested!

Tips: Keep an alarm clock near your bed and use it to wake up at 1am, otherwise you may sleep through the night.

Get a quiet battery-powered fan that you can use between 8am-11am – really keeps it cooler in your vehicle or tent. The one I found is about 10 inches high and quiet. Read more

Emergency Canadian Passport

This is the process I went through in Bangkok, in case this information may help you one day!  Of course, the process will vary depending on which country your passport is lost/stolen.

Emergency Canadian PassportFirst Steps:

1.  If any credit cards are missing, report immediately to your credit card company.

2.  Whether your passport is lost or stolen, file a police report.
- In Bangkok, I was directed to the Tourist Police Office
- This is very important for the Embassy’s paperwork and for potential insurance coverage you may have (private travel insurance or credit card travel insurance)

3. Contact family members or friends so that you have some help from back home.  (They may have to wire you money or do an errand on your behalf)

Read more

An Edible Garden of Eden in the City!

Imagine having a garden of Eden in every neighbourhood where communities would learn to sow seeds together, grow together, harvest together and eat together?  Free plucking instead of free parking?   City gardens and parks containing mainly edible or medicinal plants, vegetables and fruit trees?

An Edible Garden of Eden in the City!

Well, these visions are not mere fantasy.  Though my own green thumb is green from lack of gardening experience, I have been tuning into the growing trend of communal gardens sprouting up in the urban jungle.  This is not a new concept for ancient civilizations have long explored the agricultural capacity of city centres from Egypt to Machu Picchu.  Good ideas age well and these stories of communities co-creating free food gardens remind us of old ways of’ ‘being and doing’ that revive our connection to each other and invoke appreciation for Nature’s abundance.

Here is the latest free garden project  that I heard about (from my friend Mimi):

About the Shared Gardens* in Oregon:

*A great quote from the featured video:  People often say “you must be such good people to do this”. We seem to have forgotten that we are all good people.

Inspiration to grow food no matter how small your space – this awesome article covers balcony gardening to guerilla gardening!

Five eye-opening facts from this article:

1)  50% of the world’s population lives in cities.

2)  800 million people are involved in urban agriculture world-wide and contribute to feeding urban residents.

3)  Low income urban dwellers spend between 40% and 60% of their incme on food each year.

4)  By 2015 about 26 cities in the world are expected to have a population of 10 million or more. To feed a city of this size at least 6,000 tonnes (6,600 tons) of food must be imported each day.

5)  250 million hungry people in the world live in cities.


How To Wrap A Saree

My friend Sajini at Sreedhari Ayurvedic Retreat Centre agreed to teach me how to wrap a saree. I had actually learned many years ago from some ladies at a saree shop in Vancouver but like language, without practice, one forgets…

What amazes me is how the women of India manage to wear it so gracefully while doing such a wide variety of tasks! I’ve seen women wearing sarees while riding motorbikes, doing laundry in the river, swimming, cooking over a fire, doing construction work… I can barely sit in one – much less walk! Yet everywhere in India, the brightly colored saree continues to adorn women in both rural and urban landscapes.

How To Wrap A Saree