The other day I had someone snark at me on a forum and inform me that my site made it seem as if no one could go to the burn for less than $2,000. And my first reaction was, "yeah, duh! No one can go to the burn for less than $2,000." I know old school burners love to talk about the good old days, which seemed to have no rules and people shooting guns out of moving cars and trips to the hot springs that have since been closed. But as things evolve, so do the costs. So, I have taken a look at what it actually costs to go to The Burn:
Tickets: These days a ticket will set you back $488. Yup. Between the ticket itself, the Nevada taxes, fees for processing, etc. you are looking at $488 and that doesn't count the car pass which is another $80.
Travel: If you are lucky enough to live in the state of California, or some driving distance to Black Rock Desert that means no plane ticket, rental car, or burner express, just gas from where ever you are to the playa. But thanks to the Burning Man census, we know that nearly 20 percent of attendees in 2016 were NOT from the United States. So let's try and place the average cost here around $600, which accounts for a plane ticket, a hotel room in Reno, and some means of getting to the playa.
Accommodations: This can range from a hundred dollar tent, to an expensive (but amazing) shift pod, and then you have hexayurts, RVs, etc. And let's not fail to mention shade, which can set you back a pretty penny if you decide to invest in a proper shade structure. So let's put this category at around $600.
Food & Beverages: Once again, you can really go far and wide on this price, starting with the fact that some people come for a few days, and some people are there for ten days or more. And some people stay in camps that offer meal plans, while other don't. Assuming you can get your food down to around $20 a day, and let's say you are there for seven days, you are spending $140.
Outfits: Even if you already have a robust festival closet, you will need to pick up a few essentials for The Burn, like goggles, a playa coat, and a dust mask among many other things. Assuming you scour your GoodWill, and don't indulge in some elaborate headdress from Etsy, your attire will likely set you back at least $200.
Misc: After all those items you still have to consider if you want a bicycle, getting something to light you up at night, an air mattress, ear plugs, and a slew of random items that can easily cost you upwards of $400.
And there you have it, getting to see the man burn does cost over $2,000. Now that doesn't mean you can't get gifted a ticket, borrow a tent, hitch a free ride, and get fed for free all over the burn, but that just isn't likely...
My personal estimation is that the average person will spend somewhere between $3-$4,000 their first burn, and only through multiple years of attendance can you even start to approach doing a cheaper burn.