You have your mind set on experiencing Trinidad Carnival next year. You might be wondering what all that entails and where do you begin?! That is where I am to help. Read along to unsheathe the mystery of planning for Trinidad Carnival! Each week I'll share information to help you plan the ultimate carnival trip for you and your crew.
So let's start with the basics. What is Trinidad Carnival? Carnival is MAS. It is a multifaceted celebration that has taken on new forms. I would highly suggest reading this to get a better understanding of the origins of carnival and its evolution. Understanding the cultural significance will be important as you craft your experience.
Before we even begin, let's discuss budget. I'd estimate to consider spending roughly $3000 to $4000 for this trip throughout the year. Let this number determine if you should even keep reading. Most vets don't ever add up the costs because we know it is worth it. But the realist in me has to put it to you plain. This will not be a cheap or inexpensive trip. On the bright side many of the costs are staggered throughout the year so it makes the bite sting a bit less.
- Airfare: $500 (varies greatly depending on your location. This is an estimate from major East Coast hubs) Book Winter/Early Spring
- Housing: $1000-1500 (Varies greatly depending on occupancy levels and travel dates) Book ASAP
- Tickets: $1000 (This is based on an estimate of 7 all inclusive fetes ranging from $100-150) Available Fall
- Transportation: $500 (Varies depending on shared costs) Book in the Fall
- Costume: $650-1000 (Varies depending on band and costume choice) Available Summer
- Miscellaneous: $300 food and pocket money
Find a trusted friend who is also interested in experiencing Trinidad Carnival or is a veteran at Carnival travel. It is a unique trip, and you don't want to spoil your experience by traveling with someone not equally invested in the trip. Many will say it is fine to travel alone as you will meet many Carnival enthusiasts on the way. If you are feeling brave go for it. However, I would suggest finding at least one friend so that you can truly feel comfortable and be able to let loose with a partner. If you find your self going solo there are many fete groups you could join for company. But more on that later.
How long should I stay?
Luckily Trinidad Carnival dates are set in advance as Carnival Monday and Carnival Tuesday directly precede Ash Wednesday each year. 2019 dates are March 4 & 5th. But that doesn't answer the question. Once you figure out how many vacation days you can afford, I'd suggest planning for a trip of a minimum of 7 days, planning to return home on Ash Wednesday (March 6th). If you can afford closer to 10 days, I'd suggest arriving by the Wednesday before, then heading to Tobago (or heading to Maracas Beach in Trinidad) for Ash Wednesday and returning home that Thursday or Friday. Which fetes you want to attend may also influence your schedule, so stay flexible and read the upcoming fete selection post to see the potential lineups. These are only suggestions as many carnival veterans arrive more than a week in advance and spend two weeks in Trinidad. It is all up to you and your budget! But keep in mind many hotels and guest houses have minimum stay requirements.
Check out Part II which covers: Where should I stay?