Minimalist Tips and Tricks

PLAYA DIVA TIPS AND TRICKS FOR THE MINIMAL TRAVELER – BURNING MAN EDITION

Check out the new playadiva packing list 2012  for a simple and printable excel spreadsheet of my Tips and Tricks List. This spreadsheet includes all items, not just the items in this Minimalist Edition.

Go to burningman.com and sign up for the Jack Rabbit Speaks (JRS) and read the survival guide and the first timers guide. The JRS is an email, and as the burn approaches they send out an email with essential information a few times a week. Sometimes daily.  My lists are created with the assumption you have read those basics.

Label everything you care about with a sharpie or with a label maker. This includes your bike, your camera & your headlamp.  If you can fit it all in, include on playa and off playa info such as:

Name
Camp name
Camp address
Phone number
Email address

If they don’t find you on the playa, they have your contact info for finding you off playa.

Put your Burning Man ticket in your bag NOW!

SHOPPING LIST ESSENTIALS:

Bike – This may seem like an impossible item to bring to the playa if you are traveling from a far away land. Read my article about Bikes on the playa to get a better understanding of the bike culture at Burning Man, and how you too can bring a bike with you.

Tent, Structure, Home – I am not a crafty girl in the building department. I can set up any kind of store bought tent like a pro, but anything else I am bewildered and confused. I would love to build a hexayurt, a swamp cooler, and a shade structure after I read these tips. But realistically, that is just too ambitious for me. So my recommendation is read and research all that you can and go with what works for you. Read my article about Homes on the Playa, and my Tent Addition for tips and tricks. Keep these things in mind:

Safety – Read about how to use rebar and properly stake down your tent and shade structure.

Time – how much time do you want to invest in creating your home? Some folks love spending their entire week building stuff at camp, others prefer the quick and easy solutions.

Money – how much money do you want to spend on your new home? You can get great deals on tents on craigslist, just make sure you set it up before you buy it to check for missing/broken poles, etc. You can also order tents online for around 50$, or buy one at a large retailer like Target. Or you can invest in a tent that will last you for a few years like an amazing Kodiak canvas tent that is around 500$.

Size and weight – If you are bringing the tent on a plane, how much does it weigh? Will it fit in your luggage? Depending on your airline and where you are traveling from, it might make more sense to purchase a tent once you get to Reno. Here is a guide to Reno shopping.

Camp/Sleep Stuff 

Rebar Stakes – Read this section in the BM survival guide about securing your structure. Don’t let your tent or shade structure fly away and cause injuries. The stakes that come with your tent are NOT enough in these conditions.

Use rebar to steak down tents and shade structures

Tennis balls, small stuffed animals, swimming pool “noodles”, etc – to cover tops of rebar. More BM injuries happen from exposed rebar than anything else! Make your camp safe, cover your rebar!

Warm Sleeping Bag – It can get very cold at night.

Sleeping pad – Getting good sleep at Burning Man can be a challenge. I say rest whenever and wherever you can. Your home should, at the minimum, be a place you can get some precious sleep. A simple sleeping pad that is lightweight and packs down to a very small size would be ideal.

Foam Ear plugs – not everyone wants to go to bed at the same time as you

Tarp – At least 2, 1 that goes under the tent to help with temperature fluctuation, and 1 that goes over the tent for shade. Again, read these tips for shade structure advise.

Lantern – battery operated for inside of tent

Duct tape, work gloves – to help with strike and setup

Extra batteries – look at your devices and find out what batteries they use. Bring extras of each size.

Big “hefty” garbage bags – pack it in, pack it out! Leave no trace!

Food & Drink Stuff – ALWAYS try and end up with trash that can be burned in burn barrels – and eat and drink well! This edited list is for those who cannot bring a kitchen, stove, cooler, and grey water disposal system.

JetBoil – My new favorite item for the minimal traveler. It is lightweight, compact, and boils a cup of water in one minute. They are a little pricy at $75 for the smallest one, but if this is all you are bringing it is well worth it. Heat water quickly to make tea, instant coffee, noodles, etc. If you just use it to boil water, then add that hot water to your bowl, cup, etc, you will not need to clean it. Seriously. Amazing.

Water! – bring at least 1.5 gallons per person per day. You will need at least 1 gallon of water per day for drinking, making certain meals, and adding to other beverages like tea, Gatorade, and coffee. Alcohol and caffeine are diuretics and will drain moisture from your body so you have to drink more water to compensate. You will also need a bit extra of water per day for showering.

Gatorade – or some other electrolyte replenishing drink. I buy Gatorade powder to add to water. Very convenient!

Mug with carabineer – various locations offer drinks/smoothies/coffee and it’s always BYOC (bring your own cup). Sometimes I find these at places like Target or Costco. You can clip it to you so you don’t loose it.

Plates – bring paper plates to burn in the burn barrels. This will give you less trash at the end of the week.

Eating utensils – I recommend reusable utensils. Whether you bring them from home or get them at a camping store, just wipe them when you are done and reuse them later. Disposable wooden chopsticks make excellent utensils (and they burn!)

Plan every meal– if you do so you won’t end up hungry, or with a bunch of left-over food. You will not be very hungry on the playa.

Snack foods – bars, trail mix, dried fruit, jerky, almond butter. I like healthy options like dehydrated kale chips and fire roasted red peppers that do not need refrigeration. When you get to Reno stop by Trader Joes or Whole Foods if you want healthy snacks for the playa. There are many other grocery options, here is a guide to Reno shopping. If you are able to bring a cooler, kitchen, and cooking necessities please check my other Tips and Tricks Guide.

Alcohol – as needed.

Ziploc bags – 1 box of gallon bags, and 1 box of sandwich bags. Do NOT use cheap non-brand plastic bags. Made that mistake one year, not fun. These bags are used for everything! Left over snacks, batteries (don’t forget to recycle your old batteries when you leave the playa), anything you don’t want covered in playa…

Toilet, Shower, and Personal Stuff 

Biodegradable Soap – Dr Bronner’s soap at your local health food store

Spare toilet paper – buy the porta-potty safe stuff = 1 ply only!!!

Flip flops – for late night bathroom trips

Headlamp – I prefer more LEDs (4+), lightweight, compact & quality. This is a basic, good quality headlamp. My favorite is this one because I can put it on a hat or on my wrist when I don’t want something on my forehead.

Shower bags – If you are camping somewhere that has a shower system. I recommend bringing a 5 gallon size shower bag & 1 large carabineer clip like this or this to hang it up. Label your shower bag. If your camp does not have a shower area, use premoistened body wipes that are created specifically for when you don’t have the time or facilities to bathe or shower like Action Wipes.

Toiletries Bag – toothbrush, toothpaste, shaving stuff, tampons, condoms, etc

Towels – bring 2, because they can get muddy

Sunscreen – any continuous spray, no rub, clear sunscreen, SPF 20 or higher. Do NOT use lotion, lotion spray, or hand pump kind. The lotion turns into a goopy mess, and the hand pump puts your hand into a cramp. I prefer Coppertone because they offer oil free, hypoallergenic, waterproof, and PABA free. If anyone knows a good, natural sunscreen that is available in a continuous spray please let me know! All the organic or natural stuff I have found is thick, white, goopy lotion.

Aloe Vera Gel – one of the best things for your skin. Will heal cracks, scars, soothe and heal sun burns.  I recommend buying the organic, natural gel for ultimate skin amazingness.  You can easily find this at places like Whole Foods, or from natural beauty stores online like this.

Eye drops – contact lens issues

Neti pot and Nasal drops – to flush out your sinuses. Golden Salve will save your nose and lips.

First Aid kit – basic items like tweezers, bandaids, blister care, nail clippers

Foot care – lotions, salts, vinegar, mole-skin. Take care of your feet! You don’t want Playa Foot.

Lip moisturizer – buy several with SPF protection

Wet Wipes – Baby wipes rock for late night cleanup, pre meals, or just to cool down during the day

Prescription meds

Clothing and Costume Stuff  - No feather boas or things that will break off like big loose sequins – we have to pick up all those teeny little things!

Dust protection – Watch this video about super pro dust protection on the playa. Buy muslin fabric at your local fabric store. Make sure it is the kind that is already soft before your initial wash, not the thick fabric that people use for canvas. Cut long strips to make it into a scarf. When the wind and dust kicks up, wrap the scarf in front of your face. You will still be able to see through it (kind of), and you will be able to breath. Desert Nomadic tribes have used this method for many years. Here are some examples of the tribes in North Africa.

This virgin burner knew how to be like the desert nomads to protect himself from the heat and dust

Basic white dust/allergy masks: These come in packs of 20 for 20$ or so. I like the kind with respirators like this. I carry 2 or 3 with me at all times. When a dust storm hits and I am out in the open playa, I can give one to someone next to me who needs one too. Full face respirators: I bought 1 a few years ago but never even took it out of the box. They are a pain to lug around and feel slightly claustrophobic.

There are more unique, fun, handmade options from sellers like Jaded Minx on etsy. Or in the sports genre like this sportmask. But I tend to just stick to the basics.

Bandanas: lots of folks wet the outer side of a bandana, tie it around and go. Personally, not enough protection for me during the major white outs but some people swear by it.

Goggles – ski/snowboard goggles are the only kind I use. It is easy to get them on sale right now because it is off season for these goods. You can also get day and night lenses. Last year during a major, long lasting white out I think my yellow lens goggles saved me from absolute paranoia. If you want to have more fun with your goggles, etsy is again a good place to look. You can find anything from Skeeter Air Pirate Mechanic steampunk costume prop goggles to Ice Queen tribal couture snowboard goggles. I don’t know how great these are for actual protection from the dust, but they look amazing! Or, to avoid all this (or in addition to), use the muslin as mentioned above.

Playa Diva in dust protection: Muslin and goggles

Hair – Read my story about playahair

Hats – The more the merrier: decorative, protection from the sun, and at night for warmth

Sunglasses – If you have sensitive eyes, I recommend investing in good eyewear protection. I notice a big difference when I have worn $100 high quality sunglasses that are polarized vs $10 cheapos.

Comfortable shoes – avoid stiletto heals. Read my article about shoes HERE

make-up – nothing messy! no glitter! think shower and playa cleanup

Coats/cloaks – it can get really cold at night

Rain gear/Poncho - BM 2000 = Freezingman

Gloves – decorative and for warmth

Keep a clean set of clothing in a ziploc bag for the ride home. Consider stopping at a truck stop for a real shower on your way back.

Entertainment & Misc Stuff 

Cameras – For the minimalist I recommend using a good camera phone. If you have a smart phone, like an iphone, you can have a lot of fun and take amazing pictures with apps like Instagram. A basic digital camera is great too. If you have a professional camera that you really want to bring to the playa, talk to some of the amazing photographers that have already gone through this for special tips. They can be protected by encasing them in a large Ziploc bag with the lens poking through a hole – and use gaffer’s tape to seal the bag around the hole for the lens.

Gifts/Trinkets - don’t barter – try gifting for the pleasure of gifting. Watch this video about Gifting by the amazing Halcyon.

Water vessel: Camelbak Transformer – this is one of my favorite festival purchases. It is a camelback and day bag in one. Here is a sample of a Burning Man daily bag. It holds everything in an organized way and fits in my bike basket. Or if you already have a good day bag, get a simple Platypus water bag to go inside your pack, and a few reusable water bottles. You can never have too much water.

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