Everybody’s Havin’ Fun
Advice for Mardi Gras visitors
Well y’all, it’s here. We are in the frenzied time of year when the entertainment is free and the gifts are plentiful. Luggage weight limits will be tested by shiny beads and plastic cups. Those new hats and wigs may just need to be worn home if they don’t fit in your bags. It’s Carnival time!
Traveling to New Orleans for Mardi Gras? Here’s some friendly advice to help you get the most out of your visit.
With the increase in airline baggage fees, lots of folks are cramming as much as possible into carry-on bags and avoiding checked luggage. If this is your approach, remember to pack for the amount of things you will want to bring home. In other words, leave room.
Mardi Gras parade throws may include: plastic beads, glass beads, plastic cups, doubloons, fake flowers, stuffed animals, Frisbees, crowns, inflatable balls, plastic swords, spears, tambourines, toilet paper, sunglasses, scarves, purses, shoes and coconuts. This list is by no means comprehensive, yet I have one of everything named somewhere in my house.
These things will each feel like a special treasure, especially if it’s your first Mardi Gras. If there isn’t room in your baggage for your booty, remember you can always ship things home. USPS flat rate boxes are a bargain and many larger hotels offer FedEx or UPS shipping facilities in their lobbies.
Be open to all modes of transportation.
While you’re in NOLA for Mardi Gras, flexibility and patience are required to get around town. Busses and street cars don’t exactly run on time, or at all, while parades are underway. Streets are blocked off for parade lineup and viewing. Cabs and app-based car services get overwhelmed by demand and the wait time and increased prices can sting.
Walking and biking are the most reliable methods of transportation this time of year. Take a look at where you need to go, consider what your physical capabilities are, and remember you can carry your cocktail with you while you walk. Pack comfortable shoes and look into the local bike shops that offer rentals. Two of my favorite shops are Mike the Bike Guy and Dashing Bicycles.
Don’t judge Mardi Gras by Bourbon Street.
“Show me your…” is a myth. The only people yelling that phrase from French Quarter balconies are tourists. Surely, if you want to raise your shirts it’s certainly your prerogative. Just remember that Facebook Live and Snapchat exist.
Parades happen all through the metro area, including suburbs like Metairie, Slidell and the Westbank. Each parade has a different vibe, different crowds and different throws (no nudity required). The Uptown parades are the most popular and well-known, but all of them celebrate the special culture of Carnival in southeastern Louisiana. A good resource for parade schedules, locations and routes can be found online and you can download parade tracker apps for smart phones from your app stores.
Know your limits.
Mardi Gras is all about throwing moderation out the window. We eat a lot of fried chicken, fried shrimp, crawfish, king cake, chips, dips and myriad convenience and party foods. We love our libations. We will make Jello shots. It’s a time to celebrate life. But we also want to live to see Ash Wednesday.
Drink water. Eat salad. Yogurt is your friend.