Updated: Nov 9, 2020
Everything You NEED To Book Your Carnival Experience
How to plan out your Trinidad & Tobago Carnival Trip
Welcome to my first Wine! If your thinking about planning a trip to Trinidad & Tobago Carnival, read on to learn all you need to know.
Here Are 7 Things You Need To Know for Trinidad Carnival
Start Planning Early!
Being someone who hates to feel locked in (I won’t get into this with you here :P ), I tend to be more of a spontaneous traveler. But it you are thinking to go to Trinidad and Tobago for Carnival, you have to plan early!
First off, unlike many Caribbean islands, Trinidad is not really developed for tourism. So, considering the Carnival week brings in over 25% of totally yearly tourists (~40,000 travel to Trinidad for the week of Carnival), accommodations book up quick.
Remember Carnival falls each year on the Monday / Tuesday prior to the start of lent, or Ash Wednesday. This year, Carnival 2021 will fall on February 15 and 16.
HERE'S A TIMELINE ON ALL THINGS YOU NEED TO BOOK & WHEN
Here are your Extra Early Planning Bookings - Timeline: July - September
1. Book Your Hotel / Housing
I recommend booking your hotel/ housing accommodations as early as you can.
Hotels are scarce, and many visitors book hotels up to year in advance.
If you can't book this early you should definitely confirmed by August but your options will be very limited.
Here's a link to hotels near the Port of Spain. This is where Carnival takes place, so the closer you are the better.
Another option is house rentals, here is a link to home rentals near the Port of Spain.
If you don't know what this means, let me fill you in. This is how the locals will ask if you are participating in carnival. Playing mas means you've join a band and will participate as a masquerader in the Carnival Parade.
So, if you're playing mas, you have to book your band.....
2. Book Your Band / Costume
First what is a band? This refers to an organized group of masqueraders who dress in joint costumes, walking & wining through the Carnival parade.
These bands offer packages and day off accommodations for their group to everyone together.
Each year bands announce their specific costume design themes in June with registration going live in July and August.
Band costumes are limited and the more popular bands can sell out quick!
Try booking your band in July!
3. Book Your Flights
Trinidad is a small country, for my American's its about the size of Delaware. So its no surprise there aren't a ton of flights.
Even though they do add flights for Carnival (due to the influx of tourist at this time), but remember there is still 25% of their entire years tourism coming this week so flights book fast.
Not only do flights book fast but they tend to be more expensive at this time so the sooner you book, usually the better off.
The Trinidad airport is Piarco International Airport (POS) and is located about 30 mins from the Port of Spain where Carnival takes place.
I recommending booking your flights by Oct.
Want to check out Tobago?
4. Book Your Tobago Accommodations
If you have time after Carnival, I recommend taking a trip to Tobago.
Sadly, I didn’t get to visit Tobago on this trip. Why? Because we didn’t plan our flights early enough.
So don't be like me! Plan early!
You can get to Tobago by a boat but unless you have a stomach of steel, I am told no matter which boat you take, the trip out will make even the toughest tummies ill.
There is a 15 min flight that costs around $60 roundtrip, check out the flights here to Tobago’s airport (ANR).
Try booking these flights by September. Flights are very limited any many of the Carnival tourist are thinking the same way as you and want to see Tobago.
But, if you are brave enough to stomach the ferry, you can book these rides much later, even upto the week of, here's a link to book.
Don't forget though to book your accommodations in Tobago, here's a link to hotels, homes, resorts, etc.
Now you should have most of the early bookings complete...
Here are your Early Planning Bookings - Timeline: December - February (aka Carnival Month)
Getting glam for Carnival Monday or Tuesday, its time to start booking...
4. Book Your Glam Appointments In Advance
Let's Start with Hair!
Trinidad hot and humid with occasional bouts rain.
So, if you're like me, this means my hair can have a mind of its own. The BEST thing I did before leaving for Trinidad was get my hair braided. (Plug: in LA? go to my girl!). Great prices and super fast).
If you can't get your hair done before, make sure you book any hair appointment in Trinidad before the end of December.
Some girls and guy like to get their hair done for Carnival Monday and/or Tuesday so with little time in the mornings leading up to Carnival, appointments book quick.
Monday tends to be the more casual day with less people getting hair and make-up done, however if you are getting a tan, braids or nails, you'll probably want to schedule prior to Monday because Tuesday glam is popular and therefore books quick.
Don't forget if you're attending Soaka Street Fest Sunday or J'ouvert Monday, you're spray tan or braids could get ruined in the paint and water, so plan accordingly.
Tip: Plan braids before Sunday (unless skipping J'ouvert, then you can schedule Monday morning). Make sure to cover hair with a shower cap, headscarf and/or wig so they don't get ruined for Carnival.
My braids are covered here In a headscarf + wig, while my friends are covered in a scarf
Both our braids lasted through Carnival!
Want a Spray Tans / Nails?
First off, most girls will schedule these appointments prior to Trinidad. I did!
However if you are looking to get a touch up in Trinidad. Here are some tips:
Again, appointments are scarce because of the small time slots available to get these things done.
As mentioned you're attending Soaka Street Fest Sunday or J'ouvert Monday, get your spray tan done before Sunday and later with oil at the events to avoid having to scrub paint of skin and ruining your tan.
Let's Finish With Make-Up
Last but not least is make-up. Some masqueraders get their make-up done both Monday and Tuesday, some just Tuesday, others just do their own.
Here's what to know...
First of all, Carnival is time to play up your make-up. Embrace the the culture and event known for It vibrant colors and elaborate designs.
Im typically someone who shy's away from a lot of make-up and feels uncomfortable in bright color pallets and glitter. But not here!
Because of this, doing my own makeup would likely have turned disastrous, think back to middle school makeup disasters - experimenting with colors and glitter.
To avoid this and wanting to step into the beauty of Trinidad Carnival, I hired a makeup artist.
Monday makeup is definitely more casual, but some girls still like the professional touch, I did my own makeup Monday but added some glitter to my cheeks and gems by my eyes.
Tip: Here are some extras I recommend bringing to do your own make-up: lashes (of course), face and body glitter, face gems (like ones I found here), and maybe a lil pop of color (eyeliner, eye shadow, or colored mascara). Oh, and Don't forget glue.
In conclusion, if looking to get your hair, make-up, tans or nails done for Carnival Monday book before the end of December
For suggestions Trinidad stylists, glam, style inspo and what to pack. Click here to learn more about Carnival Glam and how to plan your looks.
5. Book A Driver
Something to think about is a driver.
It may sound silly but again with Trinidad not being as set up for tourism as other countries, plus given this influx of people, public transportation and taxi’s can be hard to come by.
This site shares a lot of good information about getting around in Trinidad. Keep in mine Carnival time is a bit more challenging.
Tip: I recommend booking a driver if you are not staying close enough to the city.
Getting a driver isn't the easiest, there are many companies, its mostly locals who drive their own cars. So, here's my advice:
Contact your hotel, to see if they have any suggested drivers.
By the end of December and January, start posting to travel sights, about interests in a drivers.
Ask any locals for suggestions, as they may have friends or family looking to make extra cash.
Last but not least - and WAY more fun.....
6. Book Your Fete's
Wondering what the heck is a Fete?
This is what the locals call a party or celebration.
Attending fete's is a part of the Carnival experience, so I recommend planning to attend some before Carnival Monday/Tuesday.
In short, fetes start following the New Year and run up to Carnival its an opportunity to learn the new music , wine and have fun. There is a lot more to the importance of this, which you can learn more about here.
There are so many fetes leading upto Carnival you can attend, you might get overwhelmed, but I got you covered.
Here is my advice for planning your fete's
First start researching the fete schedule and parties in December. For a complete list of fetes click here.
Make a list of all fetes you're interested and mapped in out in a calendar.
Leave time between fetes for rest, sleep and transportation (traffic in Trinidad can cause delays).
Oh and DEFINITELY plan to attended a paint fete. This is an experience you can't get anywhere else! Learn more about J'ouvert and how to pack for paint fetes, click here.
For more on everything you need to know about Trinidad Carnival, click here.
So, now you know ALL YOU NEED TO BOOK TO PLAN YOUR TRINIDAD & TOBAGO CARNIVAL TRIP, can't wait to hear your stories!
Please comment and share your experience here!