Is it even possible to travel to a carnival and play mas on a budget AND have a good time?
Well, strictly speaking, yes for the budget traveler and if you apply some of these simple tips and tricks. You may even be able to go home after carnival knowing you can pay at least one bill for the month!
Going to carnival can take some meticulous planning but here are some of the Real Soca Deal’s essential tips and tricks!
Flights and Accommodation
If you want to use an internet travel agent, then I would recommend carnival travel specialists like Real Carnival Experiences, who are partnered with ABTA travel specialists and will source the best travel or concierge package for all carnival budgets and needs. Also, try Sky Scanner & Expedia and be prepared to fly indirect for a cheaper flight. Or barter with your own Caribbean own specialist for the cheapest deals.
Get smart, search Airbnb, Booking.com and other online specialists for a range of modest accommodation deals. If you happen to have family in the location, then it’s an ideal time to rekindle those family ties and stay with them to save on accommodation costs!
If family hospitality is not an option, look for accommodation outside of the main carnival or tourist areas for cheaper accommodation deals and food.
Try to travel in groups of 5 to maximize on transportation costs, as it is surely better splitting 5 ways than 2 ways!
Connect to the Real Soca’s Deal’s community forum to connect or find like-minded travellers and increase your travel group!
Costumes & accessories.
If you are not that fussed about your costume, then you could always try the “late method”. Just go to the mas camps a few days before carnival and check what costumes are still available. Most mas bands will offer a discount, just to sell off the remaining costumes. Or you could even get up to a whopping 75% off. The trick is that all costumes require deposits and not everyone collects, so there is a chance that you could get a costume minus the original deposit paid. Always ask in the mas camp!
If purchasing a costume in advance, then simply de-accessorize to save cash and only purchase what you can afford. Most mas bands allow you to purchase costume accessories separately i.e feathers, headwears, arm, legwear.
Bring or make your own accessories, there are so many internet sites that can help you design your own personalized accessories for a lot less than what you pay.
Do you really need the feathers? They are a huge mark up on the overall costume price, in addition to that, where does everyone store them after? Bring out your creative side and recycle past ones or make your own!
Invest in facial jewelry, glitter sprays, and makeup or take loads of youtube tutorials to apply your own makeup artistry, without having the added cost of an MUA.
Perils of purchasing costume concierge
Whilst it is such a good idea to have someone line up in that queue with the usual long wait, it does cost. Plus what happens if it doesn’t fit or it needs to be adjusted; in the mas camp, it can be negotiated and done on the spot. However, once delivered, it’s a long process to sort out if there is an issue.
Just be wise about the times you get to your mas camp, and avoid the peak periods between 6 – 9 pm or for the savvy, contact the mas camp to try and negotiate your pick up time.
Don’t shop until you drop!
Shop for clothes & shoes you can afford to leave or mess up, the madness of water, oil and paint fetes means your clothes and footwear do not stand a chance of survival.
Purchasing your carnival fete tickets.
Be on point with Instagram and check for early bird specials, sign up to relevant newsletters and travel on birthdays for discounts if your lucky to have a birthday fall within a carnival).
You could also not purchase your fete tickets in advance, but simply wait for the buyers to sell on Facebook and Instagram. There are always people who buy early and then cannot attend. Although beware – this is a dangerous method to apply for the popular fetes and advise to buy upfront.
Do you need to go to all the fetes? Do your research, check out carnival travel bloggers such as Real Soca Deal, Global Carnivalist & Carnivale Network. Or Caribbean news specialists like Loop News TT, Guardian TT & Barbados Today and find the best fetes and the artists you want to see.
Or click on the link to read blog post archives of Caribbean carnivals & fete experiences.
Bring your own flags!
There’s nothing like not be able to rep your country and wave your flag, even worse, having to purchase one 3 times more than you paid for your original one.
Most importantly prepare and pre-plan.
Budget for your trip and if you have all your event tickets budget your spend for each day.
Check out the Real Soca Deal’s Caribbean carnival database for details of upcoming carnivals so that you can prepare early, budget and forward plan your carnival experience.