Saint Lucia Carnival 2022: The ULTIMATE guide.

Saint Lucia Carnival 2022: The ULTIMATE guide.

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Ever since I saw the social media footage from Saint Lucia Carnival 2019, I knew I…

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Caribbean Carnival and Heat Injuries

Caribbean Carnival and Heat Injuries

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AWM, PA-C here!  I have been in medicine since 2003 and certified as a physician assistant…

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Travel hacks: Earn airline miles without flying.

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Outside has officially opened, and flight prices are through the roof (no thanks to COVID and the Russia-Ukraine conflict).  Caribbean Carnival is in full swing, COVID is becoming a distant memory, and the airlines take advantage of your desire to travel by taking heavy hits on your wallet. So let’s talk about one of my favorite travel hacks!

One great way to reduce your travel cost is by accruing airline miles to purchase a future ticket.  When you buy a plane ticket using just miles, you pay only taxes and fees, significantly reducing your travel cost.  Let’s talk about how to accrue miles with your favorite airline without even flying!

Consider airline partners

airline partners american airlines
You can use and accrue airline miles with American Airlines and its partners. The same applies to other airlines.

I lived on the West Coast for five years and discovered that I tended to use American Airlines because of their flight options and prices. And so, I made sure I enrolled in their frequent flyer program.  Frequent flyer programs are free to join, so signing up is no harm.   The more you fly with a carrier, the more perks you receive, such as free luggage and upgrades. Most importantly, you get to rack up miles for future travel.

You’re likely to earn enough miles for a flight much faster if you focus on a few airlines that fly the routes you expect to take.  For instance, it’s better to have 100,000 points with one carrier than 10,000 each with several, unless you can transfer miles between programs on a 1:1 basis.

Many airlines belong to a domestic and foreign carrier network, such as Oneworld, SkyLeap, and Star Alliance.  By signing up for a frequent flyer program, you can earn, combine and redeem miles on any partner airline.  Because I am a frequent flyer with American Airlines, I can accrue miles AND use them with any partners listed in the photo above.

 

Choose the right credit card

American Airlines credit card travel hack

Many credit card companies offer rewards toward every purchase you make and can be another way to rack up miles for a flight. But be sure to use your credit card responsibly! 

There are two types of credit cards you should consider—co-branded cards associated with an airline, and those with more general credit cards that offer airline miles as a perk. General rewards cards will also be redeemed for cash which might be good for you if you don’t think you might use your miles for travel. The airline-affiliated cards are definitely more rewarding when you use it with their airline by affording you the opportunity to double your miles with purchases.  I’ll explain how in just a few moments, so keep reading!

Shopping Portals

airline shopping miles
I have racked up some miles by shopping online.

Now, this… THIS! It is my favorite way to accrue miles. Whenever I shop online for something, I always make it a point to go through the American Airlines Advantage Shopping portal to earn miles.

Where airline credit cards may offer a mile or two per dollar spent, I have earned 5, 8, and even 10 miles per dollar on my favorite brands, such as Adidas and Lululemon. They are partnered with HUNDREDS of stores, and I guarantee you there is someone on the list you shop with frequently.  I earned about 22,000 miles through the AA Advantage shopping portal in 2021. 

BIG TIP: If you have an airline credit card, you can double-dip by going through their shopping portal to make your purchases using your airline credit card.

For a comprehensive list of every airline shopping portal out there, click here.

Dining out for miles

travel hack dining airlines

Link your credit or debit card to a frequent flyer plan’s dining program.  When you charge a meal on a card at a participating restaurant, you earn miles based on the size of your bill.  You can also use the double-dip method here. 

Traveling can be expensive for the avid carnivalist! I hope these tips help you save a little bit of coin in the future.

My carnival season starts with Atlanta-Dekalb Carnival.  Where’s your first jump?

 

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Carnival costumes: Hiring a designer.

Carnival costumes: Hiring a designer.

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There are a few reasons why someone may wish to hire a designer for a carnival…

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Carnival newbie tip: Thank your carnival veteran.

Carnival newbie tip: Thank your carnival veteran.

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Dear carnival newbie, If you are blessed to have a carnival veteran take you on your…

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Group travel tip: Assemble your crew wisely.

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Many people believe the first step in preparing for Caribbean carnival is registration. With experience, you will find that most people will assemble their crew and prepare for group travel before the band launches even occur.  

Choosing good road partners is just as important as choosing your band.  Choice of the band and your crew can make or break your carnival experience. 

It is essential to embrace that not all your friends/family are a good fit for this experience with you. Group travel can save money, but it’s not worth it if you have drama to go along with it. I would personally pay a little extra for peace and great vibes.

So let’s read on.

Finances in group travel

carnival group travel
Photo Credit: Pinterest.

The first thing I want you to look for in a road partner is financial signs. Carnival is an expensive experience, and if your potential road partner has demonstrated  they are not financially stable, anticipate financial instability will be realized during your trip. For example, suppose you have a friend constantly doing charge-backs, returning clothing, cancelling flights, or continually borrowing money. In that case, this is probably someone you do not want to take on the trip.  And if you do, mentally prepare for that individual to continue to do the same things they did on your journey.

People who demonstrate these signs of instability will not have the flexibility to promptly purchase fete tickets, flights, or book reservations. This type of person will likely buy everything at the last minute, making their financial strain worse because everything is more expensive. You can’t rely on splitting the cost of lodging with these types of people, because they may back out of the trip.

Behavior patterns and rocky relationships.

caribbean carnival group travel
Photo credit: The Toronto Star.

Secondly, think about how this potential will partner in public or in private with you. In other words, what is their history with you? Caribbean carnival is all about joy, happiness and is a stress-free, non-judgmental environment. But if your potential crew member consistently gets into confrontations or puts you in complex situations, this person will do it again at Carnival. Life tip: If you have a friend who has done unsavory things to others, they’re likely to do it to you.  Carnival is not the place you want to do this to you. For example, I know of a lady who had been friends with someone for numerous years who knew she had a pattern of stealing. They went on a trip anyway, and the girl stole her costume and wore it on the road after they got into an argument.

I would like you to think about the stability of your relationships when choosing partners for group travel. We all have been in these situations where we’ve had this off-and-on friendship with people that we would not walk away from. The cycle is festering issues, tolerance, blow-ups, and make-ups.   Rinse, recycle and repeat.  Although carnival is a healing experience, it will likely not heal your crappy relationships.  If you don’t want to deal with conflicts on your trip, leave them home.

Traveling in a group with heavy drinkers.

Caribbean Carnival group travel photo
Photo Credit: The Guardian.

In most carnival experiences, alcohol flows freely.  Be wary of a road partner who does not drink responsibly. Imagine struggling to get your drunk road partner home while in full costume carrying them and their feather backpack looking for an Uber.  I want no parts of it.  If you have a potential road partner known for not being able to temper their consumption, you might not want to bring them.

It’s essential to choose road partners that can match your energy levels or set expectations beforehand. I am an introvert, and by the time I cross the stage, I am spent and ready to return to my hotel. Many people are prepared to continue their fete for a while. I am not saying NOT bring someone that can’t match your energy.   Be prepared to either accommodate various energy levels or have a plan in place when one or the other wants to pump longer or turn in for the day.

 

Traveling in groups is a lot of fun, and everyone loves the classic carnival crew photo.  But it’s important to choose those with whom you will share your space and financial responsibilities.  I hope this helps you find this blog super helpful.  If you or you know someone who would like to travel solo, check out my post here.

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Caribbean carnival platforms to follow

Caribbean carnival platforms to follow

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AWM’s platform is going on its fourth year in 2022! But guess what? There are many…

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Jamaica Carnival 2022: “Tough Luck.”

Jamaica Carnival 2022: “Tough Luck.”

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Jamaica Carnival will take place July 10th this year and was announced with advanced notice of…

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South Carolina Carnival

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I had no idea there was a Caribbean carnival in South Carolina until I moved back into the area.  Lucky for me, the South Carolina Carnival (SCC) takes place just a few blocks from me in downtown Columbia.  All you need to know about South Carolina Caribbean Carnival includes dates, where to stay, events, buying tickets, and participating in the parade with Karikolorz Mas or Pandemonium Mas.

All about South Carolina Carnival

south carolina carnival block party
Caribbean culture took over Main Street in 2019. Photo: South Carolina Carnival

South Carolina Carnival consists of five events from June 10 – 12, 2022, in Columbia, SC (the state capitol).  Downtown Columbia can be described as a beautiful balance between hustle and southern charm. 

South Carolina Carnival’s events include:

  • J’ouvert ( June 10th) – Venue TBA
  • Carnival Parade (June 11th) – Downtown Columbia, SC
  • Block Party (June 11th) – Main Street, Columbia, SC
  • Soca is Life (June 12th) – Venue TBA
  • Punch’D (June 12th) – Robert Mills House and Gardens

Play Mas at South Carolina Carnival

South Carolina Carnival Parade
Photo Credit: CLTV.

You can’t have a carnival without a carnival parade! This year, the SCC will host two bands: Karikolorz Mas and Pandemonium Mas.

The carnival parade will take place on June 11th in downtown Columbia, leading to Main Street’s block party. There will be live entertainment, food, and other vendors.

2022 Carnival parade Route
2022 South Carolina Carnival Parade Route

Getting to South Carolina

If traveling by air, you can fly directly into CAE, a 10-15 minute drive to Columbia, SC.  It is by no means an international airport, and you may find the prices to be a bit higher.  Alternatively, many people will fly into Charlotte International Airport (CLT) and take a 90-minute drive to South Carolina. I use Columbia Charlotte Shuttle Service frequently when I don’t feel like enduring that drive to and from the airport.  Many people overlook Augusta (AGS) airport, a 45-minute ride to Columbia, SC.  

To get around, ride-share apps such as Uber, Lyft, and Taxis are available to you.  Also, look into the Comet Bus system and Soda Cap Connector to ride around the area for as low as $2.

Where to stay for Carnival

Since most festivities take place downtown, I highly recommend staying in that area.  West Columbia is literally on the other side of a bridge, and you may find cheaper accommodations.  Feel free to use the booking.com widget below!

Booking.com

Tourist Activities

Columbia, SC sits on the banks of the Congaree River and its surrounding areas are filled with lush greenery, tranquil countryside and the Congaree National Park. Columbia is an intriguing and lively city filled with history dating back to 1805.  I love taking walks on the Three Rivers Greenway Trail.

There are several attractions worth visiting, including the South Carolina State House, which was once home to America’s Supreme Court, as well as the Columbia Museum of Art.

South Carolina carnival is only a few steps from me, and I can’t wait to indulge in this local experience! Hope to see you there!

But before that, you will see me at Atlanta Dekalb Carnival.  For more information, click here.

 

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Plus Size Carnival Costumes

Plus Size Carnival Costumes

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The discussion of plus-size carnival costumes has always been difficult for me, not because I don’t…

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Jamaica Carnival 2022: Seriously?!

Jamaica Carnival 2022: Seriously?!

By Posted on 3min read48 views

Today was like any other Saturday until I got an Eventbrite notice that my beloved Carnival…

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