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It’s the big question when it comes to festival planning, after “how many days can a person subsist on glitter, protein bars, and disco naps?” How much is this whole thing going to cost ya?
When it comes to Midburn, the fact that Israel is a notoriously expensive destination is hard to ignore. Still, there are several factors that led me to assume this would be a more affordable experience than Burning Man, starting with the ticket, which is almost half the price. Still, I stumbled on some surprises when I actually crunched the numbers on how much Midburn actually costs.
Midburn Ticket: 810 shekels or $225US
I decided to go to Midburn somewhat last minute and was a little stressed about getting a ticket. I found a ticket within about a week of looking for one, though I did have a stressful bump in the road where someone tried to charge me over face value. At the time, four or five weeks before the burn, I wasn’t seeing many tickets for sale and felt desperate, but still told them that it was not really in line with the burner ethics to do so. Thankfully, I found someone — who knew someone who knew someone from my past Burning Man camp — who hooked me up with a ticket they couldn’t use at face value. Phew.
If you plan ahead, you can simply apply for the which allots 800 tickets for attendees coming from abroad. If you miss the same, do as I did and join the and Facebook groups and start scrolling. I’m not sure if it was the political situation at the time or if this happens every year, but there was a huge international ticket dump in the final weeks leading up to the event. I feel like suddenly, I saw a hundred tickets go up for sale! It’s hard for me to imagine anyone who wanted to go and had the means to didn’t get the chance.
Midburn Camp Dues: 850 shekels or $235US
The second I nabbed a ticket, I had to tackle finding a camp. I honestly can’t even imagine going to Midburn without one — but I decided to not even let my mind go there! I put up what I hoped was in the Midburn International Facebook group with a few photos of my previous burns, and then chatted to those who messaged me that they still had spots left.
I feel like I hit the jackpot with Mexicamp. They had rigged up really nice camping showers (the kind where you fill a bag with water then shower under it), built composting toilets, and created extensive public and private camp lounging areas for siestas. They also did really nice vegetarian meals twice a day, organized activities like yoga and tequila dance parties, and of course, had a very dope camp name. In addition to paying camp dues, I was required to volunteer for two shifts at the camp — one “behind-the-scenes” which I fulfilled with a dinner prep duty, and one “front facing” which I fulfilled with bartending a camp party.
I think this was fairly expensive as far as Midburn camp dues go, but it was worth every shekel.
Midburn really doesn’t require a bike. Score!
Getting To Midburn
In previous burn budget breakdowns, I included pre and post-burn hotel stays and meals and whatnot, since there is so much prep required in getting to and from a burn it literally takes a few extra days on each end. Midburn is a little simpler to reach, so I’m just including “getting there” from once you’re inside Israel.
Car Rental: $235US
This broke down to $175 on the car, $39 on gas, and $21 on overnight parking since I was unable to return the car immediately upon returning to Tel Aviv. There isn’t really feasible public transportation to Midburn, nor is there an official burner shuttle like at Burning Man. I had originally planned to find a rideshare, which is incredibly common, but I left it to a bit late. By that time, most of the groups I spoke to wanted me to either take a really expensive taxi to the outskirts of Tel Aviv to meet them, or had very restricted space in their vehicle. I just decided to take matters into my own self-reliant hands and rent my own car!
I drove to Midburn alone, which was a nice way to clear my head, but on the way back I drove with and gave two of my fellow Mexicampers a ride back to Tel Aviv. They kicked in cash that covered the cost of the getting the car detailed before returning it (always necessary when renting a vehicle for a dusty burn!) but in retrospect we didn’t split the ride very evenly. I’ll chalk it up as one of my gifts to the Midburn community! If you’re offering rides in a rental, keep in mind that rental cars in Israel may be smaller than what you’re used to, at least if you’re an American used to big ass SUVs! It was a very tight fit for for of us with all our stuff.
If you’re on a tight budget, check the group. Look for a meeting point you can easily access, and offer to kick in for gas and rental fees, if applicable.
If you’re renting a car, check your rental restrictions carefully — most rental facilities outside the airport are closed for Shabbat on Fridays, which ended up causing me a huge headache. Renting a car in Israel is a little tricky as street parking signs and gas pumps are in Hebrew only, so if you don’t speak the language you’ll definitely rely on locals a bit for help. That said, the roads were well maintained and driving there otherwise wasn’t too stressful. Why not take advantage of having the car and drive down to Eilat for some beach time, post-burn?
Midburn Costumes: $30
To be totally honest, this category is a huge ‘ol guess. Unlike previous burns, I didn’t have access to Amazon Prime or cheap American malls ahead of time, so I kinda just made do with what I had in Thailand already, which I shipped to a friend’s apartment in Tel Aviv and picked up before the burn. I did pick up a few little things while shopping in Eilat and while I was in Egypt — funny neon visors, a little playa backpack, and a fun Egyptian shirt and hair cover.
Overall, I used what I had and that was great!
Groceries, Alcohol and Water: $148US
As usual, I brought way too much water. Ah well. I spent $61 on booze (mostly champagne, because that’s just the kind of mood I was in, and vodka, of course), and $47 on water, juice, fruit, and snacks (a lot of which I came back with, and ate on my journey back to the USA). Also, Dave and I personally spent $40 on a McDonald’s binge on the drive back from the playa. We are not ashamed. (Okay, we kind of are. We vowed never to speak of it again. Sorry, Dave.)
Camp Supplies: $71US
This is where I got so, so lucky. Clearly, I didn’t have a bunch of camping supplies with me, and I didn’t want to spend a fortune on them, nor did I want to create a ton of waste by buying and ditching stuff after a single use. Someone in my camp lent me a tent, and one of my girlfriends in Tel Aviv loaned me blankets, pillows and a sleeping bag.
The only thing I bought, really, was an air mattress (so worth the splurge) and a few other random impulse buys at the camping supply store. Then, the night before Midburn, fearing the cold I impulse spent $8 on a hat and scarf. I gifted it all to my friend when I returned her stuff — maybe I’ll sleep on that mattress again next time I visit her!
Total cost of Midburn: $944
As usual, I conclude these posts with the caveat that I could have done it a lot cheaper. I could have done a rideshare, not made myself sick at McDonald’s, etc. (Really, the rental car was the huge budget buster.) My Burning Man budget has fallen into the $1,300-1,500 range in the past, but spans ten days and includes flights. I was surprised by how much Midburn ended up totaling for just five days, no flights included.
But I don’t regret a thing — and have to take into account that it was my first Midburn and I was going in pretty blind, without friends to share resources or knowledge with. I’ll be back to learn from my mistakes, though. I’m already dreaming about my next burn.
What do you think? Would you spend that on Midburn?
Can you believe this is my last post a bout The Middle East? (At least for now!) Time to start blogging about everything I’ve been up to since I returned to the USA…