Benefits of hotel rewards programs

Benefits of hotel rewards programs

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When it comes to planning your carnival travel, the cost of your accommodation can easily exceed…

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Benefits of hotel rewards programs

Benefits of hotel rewards programs

By Posted on 0 Comments5min read15 views

When it comes to planning your carnival travel, the cost of your accommodation can easily exceed ...

Tobago Carnival 2022 Recap

Tobago Carnival 2022 Recap

By Posted on 0 Comments Location: 7min read29 views

Trinidad and Tobago used to have Carnival as one nation every year. However, it was announced ...

Tobago Carnival 2022 Costumes

Tobago Carnival 2022 Costumes

By Posted on 1min read195 views

when is tobago carnival, tobago carnival 2022Tobago carnival 2022 is in 57 days, but there is ...

Tobago Carnival 2022 Recap

Tobago Carnival 2022 Recap

By Posted on 0 Comments Location: 7min read29 views

Trinidad and Tobago used to have Carnival as one nation every year. However, it was announced…

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Tobago Carnival 2022 Costumes

By Posted on 1min read195 views

when is tobago carnival, tobago carnival 2022

Tobago carnival 2022 is in 57 days, but there is still time to register and plan your trip!  This blog gives you a list of the participating bands that provide carnival costumes, and J’ouvert outfits.  

Tobago carnival will be held October 28-30, 2022.  There are festivities that start as early as September 10th.  The following bands listed are those that have websites available that can accept registration at this time. So be sure to check back occasionally for updates. 

To learn about Tobago Carnival and other participating bands, click here. 

tobago carnival 2022 costumes

Fog Angels Mas + J'ouvert

Fog Angels

Fog Angels touts itself as the premier band for Carnival and J’ouvert in Tobago.  For Tobago Carnival 2022, they present 9 carnival costumes and 9 options for J’ouvert.  To check out their website, click here.

Zain Carnival

Tobago Carnival Costume
Zain Carnival

Zain carnival brings 4 beautiful sections to Tobago Carnival this year.  To check out their website, click here.  I am personally in love with Divavasu’s feather backpack! To check out their costumes, click here.

Jade Monkey Mas

Tobago Carnival 2022 Costumes
Jade Monkey Mas

Jade Monkey Mas  presents costumes in tribute to the late-great Blaxx.  To check out their costumes, be sure to head over to the website.  I personally am in love with “Mash Up”.

I will be playing mas with Fog Angels this year! So, be sure to check back for updates and my review of Tobago’s first-ever carnival in October.

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Picking your Carnival Costume

Picking your Carnival Costume

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Pick your carnival costume, pick your carnival outfit, carnival costume selection, how to pick your carnival…

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Choosing your carnival band

Choosing your carnival band

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So you have decided to participate in Carnival and now you are overwhelmed trying to decide…

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Should we Gatekeep Carnival, or Step Up?

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I am well-rehearsed on the highs and lows of learning and navigating the nuances of a culture I have not been raised.  For almost four years, I have focused on the beauty of Caribbean Carnival and how it has positively impacted my life.  I tip-toed about discussing the negatives to tread carefully.  I feel that I have not been holding true to my self-proclaimed “Genuinfluencer” title.  

Embracing the “tread carefully” approach has left me but a shell of who I am as a person at my core, and does not allow me to advocate for other people’s needs in this Carnival space.  This blog is not an attack on anything or any specific person.  This long overdue thought piece aims to spark productive conversations… hopefully. 

This thought piece reflects my experiences and what I have learned in my journey—reading and listening.  Discussion panels and deep conversations in and outside of my DMs. This thought piece is also born from discussions with designers, production teams, section leaders, band owners, masqueraders worldwide, and silent leaders in the industry. My perspectives and experiences are not invalidated because I am African American. And so, I challenge all to buckle up and dig deeper.

Its just my culture.

This feeds back into the blog I wrote about enjoying the culture responsibly.  In 2017, a good friend said something that rocked me.  Mainly because she told me I was talking out of my ass in so many words.  From then on, I vowed to learn as much as possible.  I started asking people I associated with in person and inside chats.  I began to ask questions about why I saw certain things at Carnival and fetes, and the originations of many things I observed.

I was met with radio silence, or the phrase: “It’s just my culture.”  Frustrated, I embarked on a journey to learn on my own.

When I was introduced to Carnival, my sister told me things about Carnival that she learned from someone else that was West Indian.  My sister emphasized the fun and the sexuality of Carnival. My sister unintentionally transferred over a mentality and perception about the experience as something I needed to hide or even ask my then – husband to participate in.  And YES, she was encouraged to claim or fly a flag from another island country. But the reality is no one can blame her for what she told me.

It took me participating in Caribbean Carnival for about 3-4 years or so before I uncovered enough information about the significance of J’ouvert.  Before then, I heard everyone talk about it, but they couldn’t tell me what it was about other than it being much fun.  So, I never went.  I was purely a road masquerader.

One day, I learned about the Canboulay and got bits and pieces of information about how it all ties into Carnival.  J’ouvert is for the people.  Pretty mas is for the establishment. DEFIANCE, RESISTANCE. REBELLION.  It RESONATED.  I make it a point to incorporate it into my carnival experiences when my work schedule allows.  I am continuing to learn and grow as a “conscious” masquerader. But if I am being totally honest, it took a lot of effort to go out of my way to know what I know now, because those that I was surrounded by couldn’t lead me in the right direction.

If I was lost, so are many others. When it comes to Caribbean culture and carnival, google is really not our friend. So where do we turn to?

Outsourcing the ritual of Carnival.

There are a lot of false speculations behind this platform and how I have been blessed to enjoy Carnival as much as I have over the years.  I’ve read false rumors about “begging” for free costumes, taking opportunities from other content creators… you name it, I’ve heard it.  If I publish a sponsored post, I’m “profiting,” which is also not true.  But what IS TRUE is that China has probably made BILLIONS of dollars over decades because Caribbean Carnival is so heavily outsourced.

Why aren’t we maintaining that same energy tho?

Some carnival events are so HUGE that outsourcing must happen.  But the reality is that some of your favorite bands and sections have failed in the United States because of outsourcing.  When I first played mas in 2015, My section leader was the designer.  I remember going into the mas camp where panties were actively being sewn, bras assembled, and you could see band members doing feather work.  We still have mas on a smaller scale, but we now see many section leaders and band members who don’t sew, design, bend wire, or even know the sensation of a hot glue gun burn. Simply put: the ritual of creating mas is outsourced for convenience or due to lack of skill.

The demand for outsourcing increases as Carnival grows in popularity on any given day.  Where there may be opportunities for us to pick up the ritual of creating mas, the truth is the industry struggles to find new talented sewists, wire benders, featherers, and production teams. 

Let's discuss what we can do.

The other day I was surfing Instagram and stumbled upon an Instagram page.  Caribbean carnival has spread to Indonesia.  I kid you not: Caribbean Carnival will happen in Bali from September 23-28th this year.  Much to the chagrin of many, the popularity of Caribbean Carnival will spread to the farthest corners of the world.  The harsh truth is that you’ll never be able to gatekeep carnival and fetes.  But there are a few things we can do collectively to keep its message alive, and promote respectful participants of the culture:

Your invitation MUST come with education.

The truth is many people who follow me on social media are wholly aware of the damages of cultural appropriation.  It’s mainly discussed on a WIDE scale on TikTok.  You’re not going to stop your occasional culture vulture or the Instagram masquerader, but there are a lot more that want to know about the culture before they enter than you think.  People don’t know where to find the information, and when they ask questions, they don’t get what they need from their lines of questioning. “It’s just my culture” does not work. If you don’t understand parts of the culture or choose not to seek an answer to share,  all you are doing is promoting a lifestyle of the culture and nothing more.

Your invitation MUST come with patience.

I read much commentary about people getting irritated when asked questions or angry when someone doesn’t quite get it right.  In the earlier phases of AWM, I remember being attacked over saying “Caribbeans” and not “West Indians.”  We don’t know what we don’t know, and most people have no intention of walking into a space disrespectfully. Creating spaces where people are invited to learn, make mistakes, and grow is important.

We must accept people as they are.

Negative attitudes about non-West Indian flags or non-West Indian people at Carnival and fetes appear to be a United States problem.  People discuss openly that they should not bring their US flag.  Others are told to wear another flag for different reasons. But the truth is if you want people to treat flags as more than a piece of cloth, people also need to feel comfortable about representing themselves as they are when we come into those spaces. Like trauma, our passions and joy of the people that came before us is also transferred through our DNA.  For that reason, many will gravitate to it not understanding why (just like I did). If we don’t want to see anymore cringey interviews, we need to have spaces where people feel comfortable to come as they are and not hide it.

We need productive conversations.

I gain insight through productive and sometimes outright painful discussions in my DMs, but they are necessary for personal growth.  But it seems as if everyone prefers to have these discussions quietly.  I have had insightful talks with other content creators, which resulted in an idea for us all to participate in discussion panels, and they have declined.  We need to take these conversations out of the DMs and WhatsApp chats.

Embrace the ritual of creating mas.

There are so many things that happen before you hit a mas camp for costume collection.  One reason I love carnival so much is that I have been blessed with the opportunity to help with production.  I respect the art and love that goes into designing your favorite costume.  I have sewn, I have feathered. I have wrapped wire, and organized left and right feathers.  I have had to exercise creativity in odd situations. I have distributed costumes and burned my hands on a hot glue gun.

The truth is that many of us don’t want to dedicate our time to designing, sewing, or wire bending.  Many say they’ve been playing mas “from young” but wouldn’t dare step inside a hot mas camp to help.  Until we get more people involved in mas outside the parade, billions of dollars will continue to be outsourced elsewhere.

Parting thoughts.

Carnival has saved my life and served as a space for healing, which is why I am passionate about sharing what I have learned with others.  I don’t want others coming into this cultural experience like I once did: COMPLETELY BLIND AND WRONG.

Unfortunately, Carnival does not look remotely like it was when I started.  While we may not be able to change its evolution, we can collectively unite to keep its profound meaning and history alive.

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Tobago Carnival 2022: A quick guide.

Tobago Carnival 2022: A quick guide.

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tobago carnival 2022, when is tobago carnival, carnival in tobago, tobago carnival Tobago has been widely…

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Trinidad Carnival Bands (you may not know)

Trinidad Carnival Bands (you may not know)

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2023 will mark three long years since the last Trinidad Carnival. Some seasoned Trinidad revelers might…

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Travel Essentials for Carnival Chasers

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If you are reading this, chances are you have read many blogs and watched many YouTube videos to prepare yourself for the Carnival experience.  Given my military background, I tend to take my approach to blogging differently when it comes to traveling, especially overseas. In this blog, I will talk about a few things I believe every carnival chaser should have when traveling in the US and abroad. These travel essentials  are about saving you money while keeping you safe and prepared. Read on!

Travel essentials, carnival, carnival chaser

Emergency Medical Travel Insurance

When booking most travel, you get to opt-in or out by purchasing  travel insurance. When it comes to trip insurance, it is essential to read the fine print before you buy. 

Emergency medical travel insurance provides  coverage and assistance in an medical emergency, especially while overseas.  It gives you access to medical and legal referrals, hospital admissions, and air evacuation back home if needed.  Check your insurance policy to see if this is already covered for you.  It is definitely a travel essential that is definitely overlooked.

Emergency Alert system

More than one reliable person should know your whereabouts.  Please give them your itinerary of all activities, including when and how you are leaving and coming home. If you have a driver, share the name and license plate number.  Share your location with your trusted friends/family until you get home. Consider purchasing an alert device that you can wear.  For example, my Garmin 935 watch has an emergency alert system that discreetly notifies three contacts. Yes, it has come in handy.

Hotel/Airlines Rewards Memberships

Travel Essentials Carnival Hotel Memberships
How does paying only $600 to go to the maldives for a week sound?

If you are an avid flyer, you are hurting yourself by not signing up for airline memberships (which are free). And yes, spirit and frontier have them, too. Accumulating miles with your favorite airline will ultimately get you perks, such as free upgrades and complimentary checked luggage.  Accrue enough miles over time, and you can purchase your next ticket with airline miles.  I recommend signing up with the airlines you use the most to maximize your earning potential, as you can’t transfer miles from one airline to another.

To learn how to accrue airline miles without flying, click here.

Likewise, the same applies to Hotel Memberships.  Since 2019, I have accrued over 740,000 points with IHG, enough to stay in the Maldives for almost one week.  Memberships with your favorite hotels allow you to maximize the points you can earn (based on membership tier).  Hotel memberships also give you access to complimentary upgrades and perks such as free breakfast and high-speed wifi. Even if you are traveling for work, those points are yours! All you have to do is sign up. Did I emphasize FREE?

Have an American Express in your arsenal.

My AMEX cards come with travel perks and a vicious dispute policy.

This recommendation is DEFINITELY for masqueraders, and NO, YOU DO NOT have to have a high income or an 800-credit score.   

If you have been living under a rock or are new to the carnival scene, it is a common occurrence that masqueraders are a) not getting their costumes or b) receiving costumes partially. Talk to a seasoned masquerader and they will tell you that they or someone they know is waiting on a refund from a band.

Over the years, other masqueraders have told me that American Express has the most aggressive and efficient dispute process compared to any bank or credit card. Mastercard and Visa members have a middleman in the dispute process.  American Express handles disputes directly. If you have clear proof, you WILL get your money back. AMEX is on your side, not the merchant. AMEX does have a policy of 120 days for a dispute, except for Goods and Services. Your costume is considered goods and services.

When comparing AMEX cards, it is essential to ensure you are reading the fine print, making sure the card will suit your needs and is worth the yearly fee.  For example, The AMEX platinum is $695 yearly, and the AMEX Gold is $250.  I went with the Gold because I don’t feel I travel enough to justify the yearly fee when I retire, and there are many perks the platinum offers that I don’t need, or don’t care for.

American Express automatically applies travel insurance to any of your flights and even car rentals paid on your AMEX credit card. Some AMEX cards also include emergency medical Insurance.  No need to pay extra when you book your flight or rentals. Your luggage, delays, and even hotel stays (as a result of flight cancellation) are covered.

Before applying for any AMEX make sure it fits your needs and that use of the card will outweigh your yearly fees.  If you are military, your yearly fees are waived.

Interested applying? Check out my referral links below!

For a list of all their personal cards, click here.

Have at least one credit card with travel perks.

Get a credit card that pays you back on travel. Photo credit: Evgenia Parajanian/Shutterstock

The carnival chaser life is expensive.  Having a credit card that pays you back will make travel cheaper.  There are several credit cards out there that give you travel rewards.  For example:

– My IHG Rewards Premier credit card gives me up to 26X points during my stay at any IHG hotel, 5X the rewards on travel, dining, and gas, and 3X on any other purchase. And a bonus: I got an additional 140,000 points after spending 3,000 on the card. This bonus covers almost two days in the Maldives! While I am currently an IHG Diamond Member, I will always be, at minimum, a Platinum Elite member for simply having the card.

Interested in applying? Click here.

– My Delta SkyMiles Platinum AMEX will give me 90,000 miles after spending $3,000 in three months, 3X miles on purchases made directly with Delta, 3X miles on hotels, and 2X on dining. I also get priority boarding and a free checked bag.

Most travel rewards come with a yearly fee, so make sure you do your homework and ensure that you will get your money’s worth every year.  And, of course, use your credit cards responsibly!

carnival chaser, masquerader, carnival, travel essentials

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Houston Carnival 2022 Review

Houston Carnival 2022 Review

By Posted on 8min read80 views

Houston Carnival was by far THE HOTTEST event I had attended. Due to the pandemic, Houston…

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Charlotte Caribbean Carnival 2022 Review

Charlotte Caribbean Carnival 2022 Review

By Posted on 6min read77 views

I had no clue about Charlotte Caribbean Carnival until I moved back to the east coast….

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