Everyone has their own lists, but here’s a basic one to get you started. You can buy a lot of this stuff in Reno, to save you dragging it over from the UK. Ensure everything is packed properly – you don’t want to be drowning in crappy, splitting carrier bags.

Note that with the outbreak of Foot And Mouth disease in the UK, the American authorities became even more strict about what enters the country, and items that have been used in an agricultural area can be confiscated. If you’ve been unlucky enough to be at a UK festival this year and are covered in mud, make sure you remove it all from items like tents, tentpegs, waterproofs and boots.

Playa ready


  • Passport
  • Visa – if you need one to get into the US (most EU residents can travel on the Visa Waiver scheme - make sure you have an ESTA valid for the dates of your trip)
  • Plane tickets/e-tickets
  • Travel insurance documents - If coming from outside of the US, you're strongly advised to have travel insurance, as medical emergencies can be expensive
  • The credit card you used to buy your BM ticket
  • The print-out receipt for
    • Your Burning Man ticket
    • Your airline e-ticket
    • Hotel reservations
    • Rental car reservations
  • Driving Licence AND paper counterpart if it’s a picture licence (if you’re hiring a car) - *IMPORTANT*: new rules apply in 2015
  • Contact phone numbers for lifts etc
  • The address of the camp – 7.30 and Carny in 2015
  • Get your mobile phone unbarred for US calls if possible
  • Address(es) of where you’re staying in Reno - Quixote's campmates usually stay at the Westin Village in Sparks pre-burn, and the Peppermill after.

Food & drink

  • Enough water to complete your journey and to keep you hydrated if it takes you a while to reach camp and the water supplies
  • Dried food, that you can re-hydrate on the playa (noodles and pancake mix are very popular choices) 
  • Dried fruit and fruit leather
  • Fresh fruit – eat it before it goes off! 
  • Cooler box and ice. Buy ice in Reno, and open your cooler as infrequently as possible. Top up the ice every day while on the playa.  Make sure you buy a non-polystyrene cooler.
  • Small bottles of water, to decant big bottles into. A camelbak/hydration pack is also highly recommended (see further down).
  • A plastic plate and some basic cutlery
  • Swiss Army-style knife can be useful
  • Mug or cup – essential. Bars expect you to bring your own. One you can hang/clip on your bag/belt is handy.
  • Comfort food, chocolate bars, crisps, crackers, beef jerky, nuts, seaweed snacks, jelly/fruit cups and other snacky stuff. 
  • Personal supplies of beer, wine and spirits
  • Soft drinks, mixers, Gatorade etc.
  • Bread – again, eat in the first few days. It goes mouldy quickly.
  • Biscuits
  • Tinned food and a tin opener
  • If you bring beer, go for alumnium cans rather than glass bottles - easier to recycle.


  • For cold weather – the nights are cold! 
  • For hot weather – the days are hot! 
  • Wide-brim hat – something straw or cotton so you don’t overheat.  Tie a piece of string on, so you can attach it to yourself and prevent it blowing away in the wind.
  • Clothes you can work in during the day and to prevent sunburn
  • Heavy-duty fleece 
  • Walking boots
  • Sandals or trainers – basically something that’s really comfy to walk in. You should have at least 2 pairs of footwear.
  • Insoles
  • Loose clothing
  • Shorts
  • Long and short sleeved shirts.
  • Sarongs
  • Spare socks (at least 1 fresh pair per day)
  • Lots of pants 
  • Jeans/long trousers
  • Layers to wear at night
  • Warm clothes that are easy to get on if you need to get up to trek to the toilet, especially at night.
  • Costumes


Things that will keep you playa friendly!

  • Torch/Flashlight - see and BE seen, LED head-torches are great and last forever and leave your hands free 
  • Gatorade powder to avoid dehydration or pre-mixed Gatorade drinks from the supermarket - vital! 
  • Hand lotion/moisturiser 
  • Wet Wipes - good for keeping fresh, especially if you can't have a shower when you want to
  • Sun screen – keep it at least a set of Factors above what you usually wear and bring a little bottle of F50 for sensitive spots.
  • Lip balm – make sure it has an SPF rating.
  • Multi-tool (Leatherman/Swiss Army knife). 
  • Sleeping bag - multi-season.
  • Emergency blanket (i.e. plastic silver sheet) - highly recommend, it can get very cold 
  • Tent - If your tent has vents, you may want to consider taping them up
  • 12" tent stakes – snow pegs are good and can be purchased in the UK 
  • Rain gear - occasionally, it does rain. 
  • Bandana - You WILL need it to keep dust out of your mouth and nose and the sun off your neck
  • Rope/cord/string - You can never have enough rope
  • Duct tape/Gaffer tape- fixes anything and everything
  • Sunglasses
  • Goggles - to keep dust out of your eyes during dust storms
  • Dust mask or gas mask (or a large bandana, see above)
  • Zip ties
  • Zip Loc bags - Various sizes, to put clothes and valuable items in to keep them dust free, also good for food 
  • Mirror
  • Barter stuff - extra stuff from this list will do much better than trinkets, everybody forgets something. 
  • Costumes 
  • Toilet paper - single-ply only is allowed in the portapotties
  • Canteen/CamelBak - To carry your water while away from camp. 
  • First aid kit 
  • Trash bags 
  • Clean clothes bag – keep a change or two of clean clothes well protected from the desert dust
  • Tools to fix anything you bring
  • Contact lens supplies
  • Spare glasses if you wear them
  • Glasses case
  • Contraception – including condoms
  • Bike and innertubes and repair kit
  • Bike lock - combination lock, or lock with 2 keys (keep 1 in your tent in case the other goes missing)
  • Bell for your bike - let people know before you run them over
  • Lights for your bike - EL wire, bike lights, LEDs, whatever. You MUST be seen at night.
  • Towel – at least one 
  • Plant misters / spray fans
  • Hand fan
  • Water pistols – DO NOT pack these in your luggage if flying into the States. Buy them in America
  • Pocket ashtray - don't leave cigarette butts on the playa! Film canisters work, as do Altoids mint tins.
  • Camera - Disposable, or find a way to dustproof your normal camera 
  • Alcohol and Beer - to barter if you don't drink 
  • Bed pad/mattress
  • Portable radio - lots of fun stations and good for official news e.g. road conditions when leaving 
  • Spare batteries for everything
  • Something to read
  • Electric socket adaptor
  • Clip to attach keys to clothing - many (car) keys go missing each year... 
  • Camping chair
  • Earplugs - it can get LOUD
  • Eyemask
  • Pillow
  • Cigarettes (or tobacco, papers & filters) and cigarette lighters if you smoke
  • Anti-bacterial handwash gel (e.g. Purell) - Especially for when they run out of it at the portapotties
  • More socks
  • Another towel

What not to bring

  • Glitter
  • Feathers
  • Sequins
  • MOOPy fabrics
  • Plants
  • Animals
  • Glow sticks - They generate MOOP and aren't very effective anyway.  BMORG recommend staying away from them


I know that you really don't need it, but if you have an RV and need to have your sewage tanks pumped, the DPW only take cash. Also you will need to pay to get off site, if you need to pop out with a vehicle. You may also need it to buy ice and coffee.

Quixote’s requests that everyone in the camp brings $50 in cash (small change) to the playa to cover us in case of unforeseen emergencies.

Next: What does it cost?