If you’re even slightly into festivals, chances are you’ll have heard of Burning Man.
The festival of all festivals. I can confirm this is true. Though a festival is probably not the right way to describe Burning Man. It’s a community, an experience, a transformational out-of-this-world experience. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever done. A true once in a lifetime adventure.
Before I went to Burning Man for the first time in 2017, I vividly remember being absolutely clueless with what to expect from my time there. I headed into the Nevada desert with friends that had been going for years, yet nothing they said or told me prepared me for what I experienced.
I genuinely don’t think anything can ever prepare you for the Burning Man experience.
Going to Burning Man though, as I’m sure you’ve gathered, isn’t a straight forward operation. It’s not cheap, it’s in the middle of the Nevada desert and it’s not something (unless you’ve been before or have friends in the know) that you can just whip together last minute. For Burning Man, you need a plan.
I created a Complete guide to attending Burning Man and The ultimate packing and shopping list after my first Burn in 2017 but now that I’ve been again, I’m ready to share some more specifics and some new guides with you.
See my reaction to Burning Man 2017 in a video here.
So let’s get stuck into the first big question.
How much does it cost to go to Burning Man?
Honestly, it depends on so many different factors and there’s certainly no ‘one shoe fits all’. How much you’ll spend depends on things like:
- your accommodation choice for the week
- how much you go to town on outfits
- whether you’re keen for enhancing your party
- where you’re travelling in from
- if you have friends to stay with when you land internationally
- your eating preferences
What I’m going to do in this blog post is take you through all the costs I incurred on my adventure from London to Burning Man 2019. Then, you can adjust and use your imagination to apply it to yourself and your circumstances.
Are you ready?
Other Burning Man Guides you may find useful:
A cost breakdown: How much did it cost to go to Burning Man?
Flights getting to the USA
If you’re travelling internationally to the Burning Man Project, the first thing you’ll need to consider is flights into the USA. The closest airport to the festival is Reno but often (like I do) people fly into LA or San Francisco and then catch a ride with friends / hire a car to drive out to the festival. It’s worth considering your accommodation options before booking a flight as, if you hire an RV for the week, you may need to pick it up from one of the major cities and drive it out. However if you’re just joining friends at the festival and they’ve got it all sorted, it would make more sense to fly to Reno.
I flew out from London to SFO a week before the Burning Man (20th August) and then returned 10 days after on the 10th September.
My flights cost me £540 return ($700USD ish).
Your Burning Man ticket
General sale ticket price this year was $425 per person, that’s if you can get one! There are other sale options to consider including: low-income ticket sale, FOMO sale, OMG sale. See all ticket options and release dates here.
On top of that every vehicle / camper van / RV that enters Burning Man needs a vehicle pass which will cost you $100USD and is available to purchase when purchasing your ticket. Great news here, you’ll probably be splitting that with the people in your car / RV. So let’s say $25 USD.
Total = $450
Transport and accommodation
Okay this where it gets juicy, and really hard to give you an exact figure.
The main accommodation options you have for Burning Man are:
- Luxury: Hire an RV
- Pretty good set up: Hexayurt / van with AC unit and a generator
- Good set up: Tent with shade structure / Hexayurt
- Hard set up lol: Tent / Van
Honestly, I speak from experience. Having AC is actually LIFE at Burning Man. The place comes alive at night and so you’ll most likely be needing at least a few sleeps in the day and if you have a tent / van with no AC in the midday desert heat… it’s painful. It’s doable but I certainly had a much better experience actually getting some solid zzz’s this year.
The cheapest, best option is of course if you have friends that will let you borrow their van / car / RV. That’s what you want to aim for as rental companies charge a premium on top of standard hire charges during the weeks of Burning Man. Honestly, you won’t be able to hide the fact you’ve taken it there. The dust gets EVERYWHERE. RV / car rental companies also charge a high deposit and you will have to forfeit that if you don’t bring it back in the same condition. Be careful!
The prices for RV’s / vans / cars will depend upon when you make the booking. The earlier you plan and book it the better. If you leave it until closer to the time, availability will be low and prices will be high. You’re getting the jist now – Burning Man requires planning.
Our set up…
– A HEXAYURT WITH AC AND A GENERATOR
Our set up was pretty legit this year. We borrowed a friends HexaYurt, bought an AC, plugged into our friends generator and filled it with blankets, sleeping bags and fold upmattresses.
- We borrowed our 6′ Stretch Hexayurt from a friend for free (they are around $600USD new or you can pick them up on Craigslist in the USA for as little as $150, timing dependant).
- Then we bought new Yurt hooks, rope, balls and tape from Amazon to secure the yurt once built which cost $111USD split between 5 of us.
- We bought an AC unit off of Facebook Marketplace for $180USD split between 5 of us.
- We plugged into our friends generator (usually you’d need to buy your own) and bought an extension lead for $20USD split between 5 of us.
- Mattresses, blankets and pillows from Costco for £120USD split between 5 of us.
No idea what a HexaYurt is? There’s a great article on all your options here.
– A UHAUL
If going for a HexaYurt / tent, you’ll still need to factor in the costs of transport out to Black Rock City. You’ll need a vehicle that can carry you, your friends and your yurt / tent equipment.
- We booked our Uhaul literally 4 days before Burning Man and so paid the price for it at $900USD split between 3 of us.
- In total, all our errands in the van (during prep and including the return journey to the desert) cost $295 in fuel split between 3 of us.
– COSTS AFTER BURNING MAN
- $73 Uber from Uhaul centre back to SFO city centre
- $65 Uhaul professional clean to a returnable state
- $20 trash disposal en route out of Burning Man (you have to take ALL rubbish with you, $5 a bag)
My total costs for accommodation and transport = $518 dollars
Note: This excludes the cost of a Hexayurt as we didn’t actually have to buy one. Your costs here could be significantly different depending on your choices.
Food shopping, costume shopping and other prep:
- Costume / accessory shopping in London before heading out: $300
- Costume / accessory shopping in SFO pre-Burning Man: $100
- A bike and lock: $100
- Food shopping and water pick up totals combined: $150
- Camping cooker equipment and gas: $60
- Pharmacy / health / vitamin runs: $30
- Cash out en route for ice / party treats / emergencies / trash disposal: $160
Total = $900
Other costs to consider when going to Burning Man:
- Travel insurance
- Personal items / toilettries / clothing
- Road trip snacks
- Stopping off half way in Lake Tahoe to break up the drive from SFO / LA
- Whether you’re heading to the USA earlier and the cost of accommodation in your destination city before you journey out to the desert
- Whether you’re staying in the USA after Burning Man and the cost of accommodation the other end
- The cost of costume prep. I start buying things like 6 months before as and when I see them!
TOTAL SPENDING GUIDE FOR GOING TO BURNING MAN (WHAT I SPENT):
This is based on all details above and on a guest that is coming from London. I had the fortunate advantage of having friends out in SF that could lend favours to save costs and that put me up for the days before and after Burning Man. Of course this cost could vary hugely to yours depending on your choices but it gives you a guide and structure to cost your trip out!
Have you been to Burning Man, what did you spend?
Love as always and happy adventuring,
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