First of all, you can definitely do Burning Man inexpensively - someone posted about being thrifty at Burning Man a little while ago. Both years I've gone I've done it on the cheap because I didn't have much money to scrape up. This year I'm lucky enough to have a good job and can afford things, but honestly I prefer doing it as inexpensively as posible.
SUGGESTIONS FOR HOW TO CUT COSTS
I eat my own food that I bring with me
- energy bars
- canned or individually bagged food that can be eaten uncooked - canned veggies, canned fruit, that sort of thing in individual servings (fruit cups, for example, or regular sized canned fruit, and share!)
- Even some kinds of SOUP can be eaten without cooking - vegetarian soup is always the best option for this, there's just too much of a risk with eating unheated meat soups
- peanut butter (protein!)
- selection of munchies lke yogurt raisins/almonds (sooo good out there), trail mixes (try the kind with not so much chocolate and more nuts), some hard candies, dried fruit, dried veggies
- Sausage (like cured sausages, not "scramble up with some eggs" sausage). We ate off our summer sausages all week!
- refried beans and tortillas (this sounds gross but trust me on it, somehow things like this taste better on the playa!)
- fresh fruit. (Here's a tip about fresh fruits... The playa is hot, but it is DRY. Many kinds of fruit will NOT rot in dry heat. Bring things like grapefruit, avocado, bananas. If it has a nice thick rind it'll keep well (ESPECIALLY citrus). We even brought some apples and we kept them in the shade in our tent, they were fine. Also, think about what is grown in hot climates - you can bring that easily! Stuff like lettuce or strawberries and the like will wilt like crazy, so just use your head. If it seems like it'd hold up, it probably will. If not, oh well, all you end up with is some some dried out wilted fruit that you can't eat.)
This is all stuff you can get on the cheap, especially if you go in with friends at costco or something. I think all my food for the whole week cost me $50 or so by doing the above type of stuff. I don't do the meal plan at my camp because I'd just rather eat stuff like I listed, so I can "graze" all day to keep my blood sugar up, rather than eat three full hot meals.
I lay off bring "extraneous" stuff
- No blinkies. (this isn't hard because Thunderdome is like, the opposite of blinky techno stuff. :) But that sort of stuff *can* be expensive and you might get some from other people, anyway!
- Contribute - it's the Burning Man way! But bring your own talent, not material things. A lot of people just apprecaiate someone to talk to, a high five, a hug. Someone I met was giving shoulder massages, and I'll tell you what, that was WAY better than a bracelet or sticker. I drew a cartoony version of the thunderdome logo and wrote "I VISITED DEATH GUILD!" on a couple people's arms!
- I don't drink or smoke (on the play OR real life). I won't turn down a beer or something if someone offers, but I don't seek it out and I don't bring it. This can cut a LOT out of your budget!
I spend a lot of time looking around my whole house for things that say to me "Aha! I can use this to __________ at burning man!"
I cut down on costumes
This SUCKS if you're one of the people who loves over the top crazy costumes. I do too! Well, I love to see other people's... But putting together a costume can be REALLY expensive! I'm not saying "stifle your creativity" but ask yourself whether it's more important to have a wicked costume, or to keep costs down to make sure you can get by for the week.
Maybe bring one costume that you can sort of "mix and match." I wear the same skirt all week and mix and match tops - t-shirts, tank tops, a long black coat, a halter top, a corset. Looks great, in any combination!
Secondly, I just saw a great post about how to carry your stuff around - good thinking :)
I thought about how I carry my stuff around, but then I thought about WHAT I carry around. I'd love to hear what other people pack with them when they run around the playa - I sort of felt like I bring "weird" stuff but it all makes sense once you read it, I think. Here's my list of bare-bones stuff to carry around, and seriously, it all fits in a small space.
WHAT I CARRY WITH ME
Choose what you carry with you
A lot of people carry camelbacks and that's awesome. But, I carry my stuff around in a hip pouch I got for $10 at a navy surplus store - not jut to be thrifty but it fits my "look" and lets me carry what I think are the necessities without being heavy or overstuffed. Also, a water bottle saves you money on a camelback ;)
Loose in the bag:
-- small tube of my sunscreen
-- my water bottle
-- a lighter (never know when that'll come in handy, even if I don't smoke)
-- a pencil
-- a pen
-- a black sharpie
-- a silver sharpie
-- In a pill bottle, a dose of my medication.
-- one of those little leatherman multi-tools (the kind WITH the small and large knife, not the kind without)
And in a plastic sandwich bag bag, I keep:
-- band aids in a few sizes,
-- about a yard of string (also, never know when that'll come in handy, or for what)
-- a length of medical hose (a tourniquet can save someone's life)
-- a tube of aloe
-- a tube of antibacterial ointment (neosporin)
-- an extra lighter
Some of this stuff could save my own or someone else's life, or at least take care of thoe playa boo-boos and all fits in a little sandwich bag. Everyone should carry stuff like this if they can. Make the playa a safer place. Seriously, this all fits without being bulgy or heavy. I am on the left. you can see my pouch (meh, sort of) under my hand.
So, that's what's on my mind about Burning Man. So, what are YOUR tips and tricks? I'd love to see 'em. Spill it.