What I Learnt At Burning Man That Changed the Way I Travel, Part 2: How to Get the Most Out of Your
So you think this Burning Man thing sounds like fun. You’ve had a look at the survival guide and considered the emotional impact this crazy intense experience can have. All the info says participate, participate, participate but how do you do that? What can you do from small town nowhere?
Check out the first part of this article on what Burning Man is anyway so you know what your getting yourself in for.
Well for a start, find your local Burner network. There are regional Burn events all over the world and a huge online presence.
A Burn near you
You can check out this list of regional burns to find local burns, meet ups, arts and continuing projects. If you are the type who wants to jump regional straight in the deep end then the Black Rock city Burn is still the king. Check it out here: Burning man US
Coming a close second is a relatively new Burn that is much more accessible for European travelers. Nowhere is based in Spain.
If you prefer to start a little closer to home then you can try to find something near you. If, like me you are based down under, New Zealand has its own Burn scene in Kiwi Burn.
And Australia has two main Burns: Burning Seed and Blazing Swan, as well local events.
How to participate
So you have found a burn to suit you and have seen some of the epic ideas discussed in the forums. Where do you, as a virgin Burner, start?
● Sign up for Jack Rabbit Speaks, the official Burner newsletter. - Not only will you get a regular dose of inspiration and heaps of handy info but you will also be exposed to hundreds of projects that you can volunteer for.
●Talk about it – Even if you are physically isolated there are Burner communities online where you can volunteer or participate from afar, read blogs and forums, watch videos and share photos to meet others in the community and see how you can contribute.
●Make something – You don’t need a lot of money just be creative and in some cases there are even grants available for artists. Do you have an idea for a cool piece of art or a pimping costume? Can you perform? Dance, music, theatre? Can you start or participate in a theme camp or create a mutant vehicle? Every Burner has a unique set of skills, you just need to think about what you enjoy and can share with others. If it all sounds like too much, jump on the forums and see if anyone is willing to join you no matter how big or small your project is.
●Volunteer – The list of things you can volunteer for is endless. The whole festival is run by volunteers and there will be a job for your skillset somewhere. We need volunteers to build infrastructure, work on The Man build crew, support theme camp organisers, greet people as they arrive onsite and operate Black Rock Radio, just to name a few. Volunteer opportunities come up in Jack Rabbit Speaks or you can approach organisers through the website. So offer to pitch in and be one of the people who makes the whole thing happen.
●Gifting - Gift a skill, an item or a moment of your time. You could give a massage or a hug, put on a pancake breakfast bar, put on a workshop teaching anything you know (body painting, singing, dance, circus,etc), offer to help out a stranger carry their water or raise a marque, even small gifts such as glow sticks can be useful to stop newbies getting run down at night. Just make sure your gift won’t end up MOOP.
I started this article to share how Burning Man had made me a better traveler and in the process ended up telling you how to get the most out of Burning Man.
In the same way I believe the 10 principals teach you how to get the most out of travel I think that these tips on how to participate in Burning Man also apply. Ask yourself seriously why you are travelling? Is it just a quick holiday to relax and recharge your batteries, or do you want to immerse yourself in new cultures and have unique experiences? If it’s the latter you need to be willing to participate, to share some of your own life skills, to communicate and reveal your excitement for life. In return you will find new worlds open up for you, you meet people and have experiences that a package tour can never offer you.
I hope this article has helped shed some light on the Burning Man project and why I find it so inspiring. As travellers we quickly become jaded to anything but the most unique experiences. Burning Man delivers both physical and mental stimulus unlike anything I have experienced on my journeys.
Oh, and did I mention the massive party? =)
Maybe I’ll catch you on the plya
Author of Stress Free Adventure Planning