Pre-playa communication you may wish to tend to

old phone

One of the greatest gifts Burning Man offers is a complete digital sabbatical. I encourage you to take advantage of this gift. Doing so will help you plug into the playa vibe and be more open to the experiences available to you, rather than defaulting to the comfort of your phone or devices. (FWIW, and for as populated as Burning Man is, the feeling of loneliness can be quite overpowering there, at times. I offer that that’s a good thing to experience.)

Before you head out to the playa, here are some things you may want to do regarding communicating with family, friends and colleagues, especially regarding emergency communications.

How can people reach you in an emergency?

Take a minute and read this piece from the Burning Man organization (BMorg) regarding how to give your family (or others) your emergency contact info at the playa. BMorg makes no guarantee or promise that an emergency message can or will be delivered to you; however, you can help make it more likely, in the event of an emergency, that a message could reach you. Here’s an example of what I send to my family and colleagues.

Communicate your full travel schedule, as needed

Depending on whether your part of a build crew or those committed to packing up your camp at the end, you may be gone up to two or three weeks. As such, you may find it helpful to share with family and colleagues when you’ll be accessible by digital communications and when you won’t.

For example, you may want to type up a full itinerary of your travel dates so people will know where you’ll be and how likely it is that you’ll be responsive to an email or text. You may want to let colleagues and family know when you’re coming back from TTitD and when you’re likely to tune back into emails (which probably won’t be on your first day back from the playa). I think it’s a good idea to let key people in your life know what they can expect from you in terms of communication and accessibility.

Make sure you can contact key campmates

Obviously, if there are 90 people in your camp, you don’t need to contact them all. However, I recommend having your theme camp organizers’ and/or some key camp members’ phone numbers contact info at the ready. Essentially, don’t wait until you’re in a pickle to realize you don’t have cell numbers for key camp members.

Many camps now use group chats and such services in the days leading up to the playa. Some camps have spreadsheets with everyone’s contact number listed, and you can add those contacts to your phone before arriving in Reno.

When I camped with More Carrot, Black Rock City’s Farmers Market, we were an all-hands-on-deck camp for our pre-playa time in Reno. All campmates were required to show up at least two days ahead of time to help with Reno prep and truck packing. We also had a lot of in-Reno communication going on.

Every person arriving by air got picked up at the airport by a small welcoming crew. We coordinated shopping errands. We shared a rented house where many camp projects were worked on and where our truck got loaded. Ongoing communication about a rental truck used just for errands, cars for personal shopping, airport to pick-ups, and so on was happening morning, noon and night. We needed each other’s numbers and a group chat. For your group, Facebook might be the solution. Whatever works best for you and your group, don’t wait until you’re in dire need to reach someone to have their info.

Put yourself on the BurnerMap app

Once the BMorg Placement Team has placed all camps and you know your camp’s address, add yourself to this BurnerMap. Then print it out and bring it to the playa.

You can note friends you want to visit. If you are not with a placed theme camp, your crew may still have an idea of the general area where you want to camp. In any case, I encourage you to tune into this map and your friends’ locations. You might be surprised to discover who among your friends and colleagues is attending Burning Man! (You have to be Facebook friends with someone to see their location on the map, and they have to manually add their location.)

Set up email vacation autoresponders

Set up any email autoresponders for your work or personal accounts.


Talking to God on the playa


Just for fun, a beautiful video of an art installation being built…and enjoyed


Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

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