Plus Size Carnival Costumes

Plus Size Carnival Costumes

By Posted on 4min read111 views

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 read99 views

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

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Going to Carnival solo | Solo travel

By Posted on 6min read117 views

Update May 7, 2022: The STEP program.

A follower asked me if I had any tips for people going to carnival solo, and I cannot believe I have never thought to address this topic. I AM A PRO AT SOLO TRAVEL.  Believe it or not, I have gone solo for most of my carnival jumps, including Trinidad.  Funny but serious, getting people together for a group trip should be an Olympic sport.   I would never scrap going anywhere just because everyone backed out. You only live once, and carnival invokes some severe FOMO.  I got the tips you need to get you mentally grounded and prepared if you consider solo travel.

Note: even if you are traveling with a group, many of these tips apply to you.  So read on!

Consider a travel concierge service.

travel concierge solo travel
Soca Islands saved me 5 days before my trip to Trinidad in 2020.

Many Carnival travel concierge services will take out the stress of booking flights, accommodations, and fete tickets.   While this may be the pricier option, concierge services will connect you to a group of people. In many cases, you won’t even need to worry about transportation, because they have it all figured out for you.  

5 days before I was supposed to go to Trinidad 2020, I was homeless (a story to be told later) and connected with Soca Islands.  This was a blessing. Prior to that mess, I couldn’t get into ANY of the popular fetes, but Soca Islands got me access to Ceasar’s Army Ambush, Soaka Street Festival, Soca Brainwash, and RedAntz Jouvert.  Soca Islands is gradually gearing up for Trinidad 2023, so check them out.

Travel solo, but connect with others.

going to carnival solo whatsapp
Now that outside has opened, the WhatsApp chats have been rather busy.

It’s true that you never play mas alone. Would you believe I have made a handful of friends going to Carnival solo?  Search Facebook groups and engage in discussions. Even if you are not traveling solo, the Facebook groups may have intel on events and developments not yet publicly known.

Many Facebook groups will also have links to WhatsApp chats to connect with and get information on what’s happening in the area.  You can get familiar with an entire group or connect with just a few attending people. WhatsApp chats are abuzz during the events, and people frequently send messages to link with the people they have been talking to in the group.

I also recommend the SoloMas app, which connects you to people who also go to Carnival Solo. Exercise discernment if you choose to share accommodations or transportation with people you don’t know. You should also ask experienced masqueraders if they know anyone they trust going to that particular event, and if they can connect you to them.

Enroll in the STEP program.

solo travel safety tips
STEP program is for US Citizens and Nationals.

If going overseas, enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  It is a free service that allows US citizens and nationals to register their overseas travel with the nearest US Embassy. 

The benefits of enrolling in STEP include: 

  • Receiving important safety information about your area of travel.
  • Establishing a means for the US Embassy to contact you in an emergency back home.
  • Help the US Embassy get you in a natural disaster or civil unrest.

Personal Security for going to carnival solo.

To me, this is the most important.  I will say you need to let your immediate circle know your FULL itinerary.  This includes your flights, transportation reservations, accommodations, fetes, tourist activities, and even who you’re playing mas with. If there are any deviations to the plans, you should update your contacts accordingly. Check-in with everyone often.  When my sister was overseas, she maintained a group chat to keep everyone abreast of her location.  If we didn’t hear for a while, we knew to check with her or escalate things if something was awry.  If you and your contacts have iPhones, I would recommend you share your location until you get back home.

Hook-ups (’cause we’re adults). If you meet who you feel is the love of your life (cause carnival will do that), your people better know a government name, that individual’s phone number, and where you’re going with that person. I personally snap a picture of them when they aren’t looking.  I’m not sorry about this whatsoever.  Send it to your circle back home, and let them know when you two part ways.

Wear an alert device.  For example, my Garmin 945 has an alert feature that I can trigger to contact people on my list to track my exact location.  Reaching for your phone may distract you, but pressing a button on a watch, ring, necklace, etc., will allow you to keep your eyes on your surroundings.  This feature came in handy just a few weeks ago. 

 

More personal security tips

Unpopular opinion: Skip AirBnB’s.  In this day and age, you have read horror stories from people who have traveled and stayed in an AirBnB.  Most hotels have access to security, cameras, and an additional hard-wired phone in an emergency (especially if your cellphone reception is poor).  If you are staying in an Airbnb or hotel, I suggest you never stay on the 1st floor and ask to be appointed to a room far from an exit.

Never tell anyone that you are traveling or staying somewhere alone. In some cases, I’ve lied about my marital status.  In other words: lie for the sake of your safety.  Everyone has seen the movie “Taken,” right?  Ok.

If you are traveling overseas, get a local SIM card. You may require your cell service to unlock your phone.  If you can’t, purchase a burner phone with a local SIM card and keep it for emergencies.

Personal protection measures.

If you have a concealed carry license in the US, and want to keep your firearm at your accommodation or with you in some areas, know the state reciprocity laws. Also, check the regulations on flying and claiming a firearm overseas here.  Check the laws governing where your firearm can be inside a vehicle.  NOTE: I do not encourage anyone to bring a weapon to a carnival or any fetes, and you wouldn’t be able to get in with one anyway.

Know your surroundings.

going to carnival solo maps
With Maps.me, I downloaded the map of Trinidad and Tobago to my phone in 2020.

Did you know that taxi drivers have a dress code in some Caribbean islands? Some taxi colors are even different from the yellow you might see in the United States.  While overseas, I take a photo of the car and license plate before I get in, and send it to my people back home. I also snap photos of any identification cards or certificates displayed inside.   

If you are traveling stateside, you can look up crime data maps in the areas you might stay in.  As always, talking to someone who knows or lives in the area (if traveling overseas) is super helpful.  You should also seek Facebook groups and WhatsApp chats for this information.

Download the app: Maps.me. You can download the maps from all over the world in advance, so if you don’t have cellphone reception, you can still get where you need to be or find alternate routes. (If you stay at one place for a while, I recommend you never use the same route every day).

Take note of the nearest hospitals and police stations.  If you are overseas, you should know where the nearest US Embassy is if you lose your passport or need any other services.

Defeat FOMO and stay safe!

I actually find solo travel fun for many reasons, but I also make sure I take the steps necessary to be safe.  If you are a future solo masquerader, don’t fret! And if you’re traveling solo and run into me, we can chip down the road together.

Also, check out my solo experience with Lost Tribe in 2020.

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Atlanta Carnival Events 2022

Atlanta Carnival Events 2022

By Posted on 3min read98 views

We are officially outside, and everyone has been hitting me in my DMs about the Atlanta…

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Carnival in Atlanta: What you need to know.

Carnival in Atlanta: What you need to know.

By Posted on 3min read81 views

Atlanta and Atlanta Dekalb carnival culminate the first of the more significant events in the United…

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Vaval Weekend Atlanta 2022

By Posted on 2min read104 views

Vaval Weekend Miami 2021 was TRENDING, and it was not the event to miss.  The good news is the Vaval series is coming to Atlanta for carnival weekend, May 27th-30.  In other words, you probably don’t want to miss this either. Here’s what you need to know.

The birth of Vaval Weekend

Sponsorships Vaval Weekend
The team behind Vaval Weekend Miami.

St. Lucia Carnival went viral in 2019. As a result, going to SLU to experience “bam wall” was all the rage for 2020.  But thanks to COVID-19, we all know how things unfolded.   As a result, the Vaval Weekender series was created in 2021 to bring the fete and carnival experience to ease our tabanca.  Culminating events with a unique St. Lucian flair, the event is also inspired by the cultural elements of St. Vincent, Barbados, and Grenada. The powerhouses backing Vaval Weekend Atlanta include Xuvo (the mas band), NinjaFete, TonyX ent. and Back to Basics.

Vaval in Atlanta

Vaval Weekend Photo
Vaval Weekend "Bend" 2021.

Vaval Miami 2021 had 8 events.  On the other hand, the team has put together two unforgettable experiences for Atlanta Carnival weekend, so that they do not outshine all the originating fetes taking place over the years.  See more information about each of the fetes below.

Cooler Fete Vaval Weekend

Firstly, Vaval Weekend brings their Koölər fete on May 27th, 2022, at StudioX in Atlanta, GA.  Bring your small coolers, your vibes, and your flag!  The doors open at 5 pm, and all coolers must be in by 9. 

Basic cooler fete rules apply.  In other words, no oversized coolers, no ice, no chasers, and no glass bottles except champagne.  

Vaval Road Atlanta 2022

Sponsored by We Kinda Ting Mas (WKT), the experience ends with Vaval Road on May 30th. You can purchase an entry-only ticket or a lunch-inclusive, including food and drinks. Similarly, entry-only patrons can purchase food and beverages from designated stations. Bring your Monday wear and the vibes. Be on the lookout for Monday wear designs, which you can purchase, especially for this event.

Vaval Weekend 2021
Photo from Vaval Weekend Miami 2021 "Sunlit" fete.

In conclusion, you can purchase tickets to Vaval Weekend Atlanta by clicking the button below.  I hope to see you there!

Masqueraders registered with WKT get a special discount on their tickets. Check with We Kinda Ting for more information or standby for an email from the Vaval team.

I will update this blog as more information rolls in.  

Meanwhile, click here if you want to learn more about Atlanta or Atlanta Dekalb Carnival.

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Houston Caribbean Festival | Houston Carnival

Houston Caribbean Festival | Houston Carnival

By Posted on 4min read118 views

In early 2021, outside was gradually starting to open up and I just KNEW that I…

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Skincare for carnival | Stay ready all year long.

Skincare for carnival | Stay ready all year long.

By Posted on 8min read108 views

When we think about getting ready for carnival, people will generally think about toning up or…

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Atlanta Dekalb Carnival

By Posted on 2min read109 views

Every weekend of Memorial Day, the streets of Decatur are lit with the sounds of Soca and Calypso for the Atlanta Dekalb Caribbean Carnival.  

Check out my blog about Atlanta and Atlanta-Dekalb Carnival.

Atlanta Dekalb Carnival is the largest of the two in Georgia and attracts about 30,000 people annually. 

Watching the Caribbean carnival parade is free, but to get into the carnival village for concerts, food and vending, expect to pay anywhere between $20-40.

Atlanta Dekalb Carnival Parade Route
This is the new parade route as of March 11, 2022.

Headed by the Atlanta Carnival Bandleader’s Council (ACBC), Atlanta-Dekalb is known as the largest Atlanta carnival, backed by more mas bands than the downtown event.  

Atlanta Dekalb Carnival

Carnival Schedule

PLEASE NOTE COVID-19 IS STILL A THING, AND SO THE EVENT DATE IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE AT ANY GIVEN TIME. 

Atlanta Dekalb Carnival takes place every last Saturday in May. For instance,  it will be on May 28th, 2022.

The parade usually starts at noon, and leads into the carnival village.  The new parade route is longer than the previous years. In other words,  means you can enjoy the road more time!  Concerts featuring various artists and food is inside the carnival village.

You can also stay up to date with the event by visiting  http://www.atlantadekalbcarnival.org.

Atlanta Dekalb Accommodations?

For the past few years, the Atlanta-Dekalb carnival parade route has ended near Stonecrest Mall in Lithonia, GA.   As of March 11, 2022, the parade has been set for Covington Parkway in Decatur, GA.  You can use the updated widget below to find hotels near the parade route.  Likewise, many fetes and costume distribution points have classically happened in Decatur.  You may find this change will definitely be easier on you. 

Booking.com

In conclusion, Atlanta Dekalb Caribbean Carnival is a lot of fun! It is where my carnival journey actually began.  If you are interested in participating in the parade, click here.

Hope to see you on the road!

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Costume Bands

Costume Bands

By Posted on 3min read123 views

Want to participate in a future carnival, but don’t know how to get a costume? This…

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Band Launches: Why you should attend.

Band Launches: Why you should attend.

By Posted on 4min read126 views

Let’s talk about what band launches are and what to expect.

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