What’s the easiest way to save money at Burning Man? (Don’t go, of course, but that wouldn’t be fun.)
Burning Man used to be a cheap affair with no tickets, no fees, and a few days of romping around in the dust in old prom dresses or Halloween costumes you pulled out of the closet at the last minute.
Now, it’s a gathering of upper-class bon vivants and millionaire techies who often report spending several thousand dollars at a minimum, not including tickets.
Tickets for Burn 2022 are $575 and vehicle passes are $140 each. Now add at least a week’s worth of food, fuel to get to (and back from), and of course the mechanical bull and designer wardrobe, and there goes your retirement fund.
While many Burners are dying to be at Black Rock City’s post-pandemic comeback (Aug. 28-Sep. 5 in Black Rock Desert), many are also likely tightening their wallets as the world tiptoes closer to a possible recession. If staggering increases in gas, grocery, and airline ticket prices aren’t enough to deter you from selling your ticket to a friend with bigger pockets, here are some tips on how to save money on your way to the big burn. at Blackrock. Desert.
Depending on how you spend your money, consider finding programs or credit cards that give you a percentage of your money back, or points that are helpful in other ways. For example, if you think you’ll buy a new tent, sleeping bag, and all the camping gear you can dream of, consider becoming a member of REI, where you get 10 percent back on your purchases each year. Membership currently requires a one-time payment of $30, with benefits that last forever.
Or, apply for an Amazon Rewards card that will give you a percentage back not only on Amazon purchases, but also a percentage when you shop at Whole Foods and other stores. (Yes, Reno does have a Whole Foods, so you can stop there and stock up on coconut water and fresh oranges before heading into the Dusty Abyss.)
Another card to consider, depending on where you live, is a credit card with a grocery store that also gives you access to fuel savings, like Smith’s (Kroger) or Costco. The reward at the pump before you embark on your journey can be a huge bonus. As with signing up for any credit card, be sure to do your homework on annual fees/charges and the annual percentage rate, or the price you pay to borrow money.
If you’re heading to the beach with a group of friends, consider coordinating ahead of time and buying in bulk at Costco or Winco, where you can get great deals depending on what you’re buying. It’s worth noting for environmentally conscious burners that buying in bulk often means less packaging, which translates to less trash, which translates to less MOOP (misplaced matter, essentially anything that gets blown around during cooking). dust storms).
While weathering dust storms and cooling off in the RV between bike rides is heavenly, renting an RV can run anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 (for non-luxury RVs) and those prices fluctuate wildly during Burning Man, as many rentals will add extra fees knowing you will be driving your camper into a remote desert of acid dust where it will sit in full sun for several days and be the base of your week of dirty and dusty debauchery. Also include fuel costs and potentially necessary cleaning and/or repair prior to return.
If you own your RV, then that’s another story, of course, as you know the upfront cost, but make sure you’re ready to put some money into maintenance down the road, or sometimes, as we’ve all seen during our travels to the beach- in The way.
Gas is noticeably cheaper in northern Nevada outside of Reno. When heading to remote areas in the desert, it’s always smart to carry an extra can of fuel, but if you really want to save a few pennies, depending on your route, you may want to fuel up in one of the cities other than Reno. Before your trip, you can check gas prices at AAA.
Packing early is one of the most helpful things you can do when it comes to staying on a budget because it ultimately allows you to identify your budget and have time to find deals, or even free and borrowed goods. Packing up early puts you in a position where you’re not desperately trying to find, say, a beach bike when thousands of other Burners are doing the same. This is how they scam you at the last minute.
If Burning Man is a one-time job for you, the smartest (not to mention most sustainable) thing to do is find used or borrowed items like coolers, tents, sleeping bags, bikes, etc. You can also spend your time gathering items for a radically expressive wardrobe from thrift stores or from friends’ closets. Or maybe you design and make your own costumes and statement pieces. If you plan on borrowing items, be sure to be open with friends or family so your cooler has a movie of magic dust forever.
This is an obvious question, but sometimes difficult to execute. Going to Burning Man is the best opportunity to express yourself as a work of art, but at what price? You can feel that your true self is a golden butterfly with a veil of daisies behind you. How much does that cost though?
Figure out what you have to pay (before you start, as above) before you start spending money on the things you want to pay for. Maybe you realize you can’t get Vera Wang to design your Burn Night dance dress, so you settle for a shower curtain and gold spray-painted cardboard wings? Tough times call for tough decisions (right Scarlett O’Hara?)
Need is a powerful motivator. If you’re trying to avoid buying everything, try doing something. there are countless Burner hacks out therefrom how to make a beach potty (a cheap old bucket to start with) to how to create a monkey shack (lots of relatively cheap stuff from the garage and a trip or two to Lowe’s), but you can also come up with your own tricks based on on what you have at home to avoid buying more things you won’t need again.
DIY burners are really the burners that keep Burning Man interesting. If you want to keep Burning Man’s heartbeat alive, learn a new skill, be inventive, and save money while he’s at it.
If you can carpool with someone to Burning Man, you can not only split the price of the vehicle pass, but also reduce the price of fuel. Also, if you have to rent a car, you can share the cost of the rental. Car rentals can be expensive, so plan ahead so you won’t be subject to price gouging, especially in the Bay Area and Reno area, where rental agencies have become savvy about where to go. drives with their cars on those dates. They know, and now you know that they know…
You might consider checking out car sharing platforms like Turo, which let you use someone else’s car for a short period. It’s like Airbnb, but for cars. Platforms like Turo can often be cheaper and you can set your own terms, but so can the lender. They can choose to allow or not allow the use of their vehicle to drive to Burning Man; at the same time, you could include as a tenant condition that you are going to Burning Man and don’t want to be responsible for cleanup. You may have far fewer options if that is your condition.
I’m not including this article as a joke, but to tell you in case no one has: It’s okay if you can’t afford Burning Man. It’s gotten more and more expensive over the years. It’s one of the reasons the event is controversial; As an event promoting inclusion and radical self-reliance and “de-commodification”, many critics have argued that the population, or at least the leadership, is a bit out of the loop and that the culture of Burning Man has been heavily influenced by, gasp! the money. .
Whatever the reason you can’t afford Burning Man, it’s okay not to go. Until August 27, you can sell your ticket at the Secure Ticket Exchange Program on the Burning Man site, where you’re guaranteed to get your money for your ticket (unlike Craigslist or Facebook).
There are plenty of cheaper alternatives to Burning Man, from independent trips to the beach during the holidays (most holidays now are gatherings of some kind) to one of the many regional events around the world. Burning Man can be wonderful, and change the lives of many, but it is also a luxury to attend.
Let’s not forget that Burning Man started as a bonfire between friends on a beach. If you can’t afford Burning Man, find some friends, some firewood, and a match. You are most of the way there.
Jenny Kane covers the arts and culture in Northern Nevada. Support his work in Reno by subscribing to RGJ.com here.
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