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Carnival Travel 2012: Party Like a Local in Trinidad

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With Ash Wednesday set for February 23, Carnival is fast approaching. Editor Lily J. Kosner put on her party hat and set out for Port of Spain, New Orleans and Rio Di Janeiro. In part one of her series, find out everything you need to know to be prepared to party in Trinidad & Tobago.

Locals like to boast that Trinidad & Tobago has two seasons: Carnival and preparing for Carnival.

Most Catholic nations celebrate Carnival on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, but in Trinidad the Carnival spirit can be felt throughout January and February, where there are weekend fetes for member of the different mas bands.

Preparing for Carnival doesn’t just mean partying, it also means watching your waistline. Each band’s costumes run from skimpy to skimpier—though bands claim fuller figures can be accommodated. In January and February gyms are packed but the March retention rates aren’t too strong. Band members even work out together. Island People Mas runs a Fit2Play fitness program for their members, who gather on Saturdays as well as some weekends for hillside runs and spin classes all accompanied by the band’s music truck.

Travel Tip: Leave your iPhone at home. Carnival means crowds and skimpy costumes so $400 phones can be trampled in a heartbeat. Some bands provide members with cheap pre-paid phones. If yours doesn’t then be sure to grab a cheap ones for the parties.