mardi-gras-12 What better way to add some color and fun to the gray, gloomy days of winter than to join in Mardi Gras or Carnival festivities? This year Mardi Gras (aka Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday) falls on February 12th with many celebrations kicking off over the next month leading up to the big day. The carnival season brings out the crazy, fun side of cultures around the world, with the most well-known festivities taking place in New Orleans and Rio de Janeiro. Join the party wherever you can but, if you choose to join one of the major celebrations, be ready to make the most of the revelry with our Top 10 Things to Bring for a Mardi Gras Getaway.

How to Revel in Style

To help prepare you for an experience like no other, the first six things on our list are must-have items to pack in your suitcase before you go: mardi-gras-featured-800x365

1. Colorful clothes – No matter where you celebrate, clothes are part of the fun. Parades teem with costumes and so do the streets. It’s New Orleans on Mardi Gras Day; everyone dresses up in full costumes. Plan ahead and/or stop by the French Market for some added accessories. At the very least, make sure to bring purple, gold, and green – the colors of Mardi Gras. Going to Rio, pack a bathing suit for the beach that you can wear under your outfit.

mardi-gras-222. Late-night attire – The party blasts 24-7, so wardrobe changes are in order. While Rio is probably one of the most beach-casual cities in the world, and maybe the most festive, people get trendy, dressing up at night – and by night we mean beginning at 1:00 a.m. In New Orleans, if you are lucky enough to get invited to a ball, you will need formal wear and a mask or head dress. Mardi Gras night is still costume craziness at its best in the Big Easy. Most nights, though, the rule is fun (and daringly revealing if you like) but wear nothing you would cry over if it gets spilled on or ruined.

3. Sunscreen and rain gear – With Carnival at the height of summer in South America, sunscreen is essential, and very expensive in Brazil (i.e. $25 for a tube), so best to bring it from home. For Mardi Gras celebrations, New Orleans’ weather can run the gamut so sunscreen also matters there too, but so do layers and rain gear, for days that start chilly and end steamy. Lightning is about the only thing that will stop the show. mardi-gras-3

4. Comfortable shoes – Carnival means walking, dancing and standing nonstop for days. You can count on crowds, sticky floors, uneven surfaces and, perhaps, uneven walking.  You will want shoes that stay on your feet and feel good on your feet through it all. Better to bring a few pairs (and mix it up for comfort) of well-loved shoes than to bust out a new shoe wardrobe. No one will be looking at your feet anyhow.

5. A schedule (and tickets) – Multiple events each day require carefully planning your arrivals and departures. Some of the best Rio events require tickets, so book in advance. For Mardi Gras, because the parades take place in various neighborhoods, you should map out the routes of the parades you want to see. mardi-gras-5Then decide where you want to watch and how you will get there. Look for an ideal spot where the parade doubles back nearby so you can catch it (and more thrown beads!) when the parade comes by again a few blocks away. (Side note: Have a meeting place determined in advance in case your group gets separated in the crowd.)

6. Tissues and hand sanitizer or wipes – Unless you know someone who lives nearby, one of the trickiest issues with these all-day celebrations is finding a bathroom. Your best bet for a free option is a porta-potty but expect a line. Otherwise, you may want to become a paying guest at a close-by restaurant or bar. Regardless, expect a toilet paper shortage. And be prepared to take care of your own hand washing, at bathroom time or in the event of spilled drinks or the general grime of the day.

Besides the tangible items, mindset and attitude are also crucial in making the most of the celebrations, which is why our other essentials are common sense; tolerance for crowds (and waits); an appetite and an open mind.

To read the complete list of Top 10 Things to Bring for a Mardi Gras Getaway, visit http://news.cheapflights.com/top-10-things-to-bring-for-a-mardi-gras-getaway.

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