We have an updated version of this article with even more hints and tips for taking an RV to Burning Man – 16 Tips for taking an RV to Burning Man.
An often asked piece of advice we give is tips on taking an RV to Burning Man. With a harsh environment, lots of alkaline dust, extreme temperature ranges, high gusty winds – it’s a good question to ask!
So, here are some quick tips we offer up with this being (hopefully) our forth year on the playa with our home on wheels:
1. Embrace the dust! No matter how many preps you make, plan to do some extensive cleaning afterwards. Hiring a full on detailing is a worthwhile investment to get your RV back to a somewhat pre-playa condition. But do be prepared that you will always find traces of your playa experience on your RV for years to come. That dust just doesn’t seem to go away (cleaning with a vinegar solution is the best method it seems tho) – we’ve learned to embrace it and the fond memories it brings back.
2. Cover all vent openings. Get some cheap cut-up AC filters and tape (a sticky kind – the low adhesive painter style tape just falls off) and place them over all external vents. Pay particular attention to behind your fridge and any openings to circuitry. This will save you a lot of fine detailed cleaning and perhaps even electronic failures. Caution: If you put a covering over your hot water heater – make sure it is turned off, or stuff will melt!! Take the vent covering off BEFORE turning on your hot water heater.
3. Tape over switches & seams! Put some tape over any external switches and seams with potential openings (windows, poor sealings, etc). This will help electronics from filing with dust and locking up (it would be awful to not be able to retract your awning or leveling jacks!), and reduce one more entry point of dust during storms. We even tape over any switches we won’t regularly be needing near doors and windows.
4. Wax On, Dust Off! As our RV is fiberglass, we always do a good cleaning and waxing of all our gel coat before heading to the playa. This helps tremendously in allowing the dust to just blow over, and allows us to quickly tidy up inside with a quick wipe down once a day. Consider this for any waxable surfaces on your RV.
5. Protect the Soft Bits. We always cover all our upholstery with sheets or spare fabric, so that the our coverings stay as dust free as possible. This also allows us to have something to shake out (when the dust is still) to quickly give us a fresher feeling inside.
6. Minimizing Openings. Minimize the amount of time your door is open, and number of entry and exits. Some folks construct a sort of ‘dust room’ at their entrance for taking off dusty clothing and shoes, and keeping baby wipes near the door. This can help minimize tracking dust further inside.
7. Close it up! If you’re leaving your camp, close up all windows and vent fans, and RETRACT YOUR AWNING. Wind and dust storms can kick up unexpectedly, and getting back to camp in a hurry is not usually possible. Most awning can not withstand the gusty winds that can kick up.. and will rip right off!
8. Air Flow. When there’s no dust blowing, keeping the interior of your rig ventilated is no more difficult than in any other boondocking situation (crack a window and turn on your vent fan to ‘out’ to create a flow where you want it). However, this is bad bad BAD during dust storms. If you plan to ride out a dust storm inside – come prepared with a small fan. We keep a small clip on oscillating 12v fan (can pick one up in most automobile departments) for just such occasions.
9. Poor Man’s Evaporative Cooling. Evaporative cooling works wonderful in the dry environment of the playa. We found a way to attached a small wet towel over our ceiling vent fan and then turn the fan to ‘In’ mode. This makes for a great makeshift cooling system, and has gotten us through many a hot afternoon without resorting to firing up the generator for air conditioning. We also use a Misty Mate handheld water mister that does wonders.
10. Minimize Electrical Usage. Use your best boondocking practices to minimize needing to run your generator as much. LED lights are great, reduce reliance on other types of lights. Turn off any parasitic loads (a friend recently reported that he gained an extra hour PER DAY of battery capacity by simply unplugging his microwave when not in use). Anything with status lights that isn’t being actively used is drawing a load on your batteries. Obviously, solar power is an awesome route to go!
11. Pee in a Bottle. To maximize your black water tanks (if yours aren’t large enough to get your crew through the entire burn), handle those night time (and dust storm) nature call moments by peeing into a bottle. (Boondocker’s hint for women: one of those empty plastic Folger’s coffee cans works great for us!). You can dump the bottles out later in the porta potties.
12. Minimize Water Usage & Evaporate. Obviously, water is a limited resource on the playa – you have only what you can bring out. Use our steps for minimizing water usage. Also, collecting dish washing water into a pan allows you to set it out in the sun to evaporate (never ever dump grey water on the playa!!).
Any other tips for taking an RV to Burning Man? Post them in the comments – we’d love to hear more!