Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Read me first if you're thinking about planning your own Trinidad Carnival trip...

Thinking about planning your own Trinidad Carnival trip?  Read me first (part 1)

If you’re like us, then you probably think of yourself as a very self-sufficient traveler.  You plan your own travel experiences, you might also plan for your friends' and family's trips too.  But trust us when we say that even the most experienced and organized travel-ista is brought to their knees when planning their own Trinidad Carnival experience.  Why do you ask?  Here’s why:

High barrier of entry

Although there have been amazing advances via the internet since we started going to Carnival many, many moons ago, there's still a high barrier of entry to get involved in Trinidad Carnival.  What do we mean?  If we were to compare Trinidad Carnival to a regular trip to Trinidad, we can easily note the following barriers:

  • The first thing several travelers would do is reach out to the major travel websites like Trip Advisor and Expedia.  These websites are mostly good in terms of where to stay and a forum or 2 may provide some guidance regarding getting around the island, however when it comes to the main Carnival events, like fetes and getting a Carnival costume – and there’s crickets. 
  • At this point, it’s up to you to go out there to research and (hopefully) find fetes to attend.  Once you do this though, how do you know what you’re really getting?  What’s the crowd like?  Is there security; is it safe? 
  • With mas bands and getting a costume, how do you know who you’re partying with for 2 days?  (You might be thinking, “Wait the Carnival parade is 2 whole days?”  See what we mean?)  Does your chosen mas band have good customer service? 
  • When looking for a mas band, you’ll find that many don’t offer online registration, so you start the dance of emailing them, waiting for the mas band to respond….and waiting for a response…then finally getting a response, sending your money via Western Union/Moneygram, waiting for them to acknowledge receipt of your money….and waiting for their response…finally getting a response and then finally getting your official receipt.

This is just the beginning!  Another barrier to planning your own Trinidad Carnival trip is:

Trinidadian culture is very much about who you know

  • Make no mistake about it, knowing someone who knows someone who knows someone is very much alive and well in Trinidad and Tobago.  There are some parties and mas bands that people would need to sell their first born (and happily do it, we might add) if they don’t know someone who can get them in.

Here’s another barrier:  Advanced, advanced (advanced) planning is needed 

If it’s your first time experiencing Trinidad Carnival, you need to plan at least 1 year out.  In fact, we have clients who plan 2 years out to experience this amazing festival.  The most important reasons for this are:

  • Trinidad Carnival isn’t cheap.  From double, almost triple times flight fare costs (the same with accommodations), to fete tickets (the really good, safe fetes are $150 US and up), in addition to your Trinidad Carnival experience taking you a lot of time to plan, it’s also going to cost you. 
  • Getting a cheap flight.  Adding to our point above, the flights only get more expensive the closer you get to Trinidad Carnival.  There will be no last minute deals here!  This is because Trinidad Carnival is considered the high season.  Before and after Trinidad Carnival, you can fly there quite cheaply, but hey – you want to be there for Carnival right? 
  • Finding somewhere comfortable to stay.   This is a buyer beware!  We’ve heard so many horror stories about vacation and apartment rentals where people have been very disappointed (to say the least) about what they got, we strongly suggest that you use your caution here.  In fact, we’d go so far to say that if you can afford to stay in a hotel, then pay your money and do just that.

And this is just part 1….why go through all of this hassle?  Planning your Trinidad Carnival experience should be easy and that’s what Ultimate Trinidad Carnival does year after year.  Check out what we have to offer by clicking here.

Stay tuned as we go into some more of what you need to know before you plan your own Trinidad Carnival trip.  Part 2 is up next!

Til de next lime,

Esha and Tarik

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