Traveling to and from the festival was Baackes' biggest expense her first time at Burning Man. In 2013, she spent $410 on her flight from New York City to Reno.
Last year, she cut those costs by using credit card reward points and frequent flyer miles to book flights, hotels and rental cars. Doing so freed up "more funds for fun things like costumes," Baackes said.
Getting to Reno or San Francisco, the two main departure hubs for Burning Man, is only half the journey. You still have to travel to the Black Rock Desert, which is about a seven-hour drive from San Francisco or a four-hour one from Reno.
Baackes spent $81 for her share of a truck rental in 2013 to transport her camp supplies. Last year, she took the Burner Express bus, which runs from San Francisco and Reno to Burning Man's Black Rock City. Reno tickets cost $75 to $80 plus a $20 fee for large luggage. San Francisco tickets cost $107 plus $50 if you want to bring a bike.
Many Burners rent an RV for the festival. "It's our busiest time of the year," said Kelly McConnell, who handles motor-home rentals for El Monte RV Rentals in San Francisco.
She said El Monte has sold out of its VIP package: a 37-foot RV fully stocked with groceries. "It's like a condo on wheels," McConnell said.
A few smaller RVs at El Monte are available, such as a 22-foot one, which costs $7,640 to rent for the week.
McConnell recommends that people renting RVs look for hidden fees, such as additional charges for generators, and check to make sure their auto insurance covers RV rentals. If not, insurance usually runs about $30 a day, depending on the rig.
Or you can skip the whole desert road trip and fly there in style. You can buy a one-way ticket from Advantage Flight Solutions directly to Black Rock City. Tickets from Reno cost $384; from Oakland it's $760 and from Burbank it's $1,195. Or you can rent a private plane for a one-time trip starting at about $2,000 to more than $14,000 depending on the size of the aircraft and where you depart.