The official countdown to the biggest event in Trinidad and Tobago is on – Carnival! Soon, visitors and locals will descend upon the streets of Port-of-Spain for “the greatest show on earth.” Even though this is an exciting event not to be missed, planning and preparation to make this time of revel and jubilee could come with a hefty price for many. Have you thought about your budget? You might be transfixed on which band to play mas, gouging for the front-line costume, considering which all-inclusive fetes to attend, along with the various outfits and all the other events that accompany the season. Without proper planning for this month of mas, you can end up racking up thousands of dollars or perhaps even becoming broke. However, for those who do not want to spend a whole year’s savings for a few days of pleasure but still want to enjoy a real Trini Carnival, here are some suggestions for you:
If you want to be in the middle of all celebrations around downtown Port of Spain, staying at places like Hyatt and Radisson although close to the excitement will fit a hefty bill. Other prime accommodations nearby include Hilton or Marriot. For much cheaper options try many of the guesthouses dotted around Woodbrook and the St. Ann’s area which can be easily found on Airbnb. You can probably negotiate for as low as $50USD a night if you play your cards right. You will get a homely feeling and enjoy a true Trini Carnival spirit.
Free Shows and Events
The cream of the crop is always the myriads of all-inclusive and larger fetes to choose from. Whether Army, UWI fete, Soca in Moca, CIC, Soca Brainwash, Old Hillarians, or Machel Monday, without a doubt you are going to spend a lot of money to attend. Why not aim for cheaper or free events like Soca Monarch, Panorama, Tuesday on the Rocks promo in C3, Hilton on a Friday, Eye Slam concerts series, a cooler fete in which you can carry your own drinks or just hang out at the popular limin’ areas around The Avenue in Woodbrook or St. James.
Well what’s the point of attending Carnival if you don’t explore the option of playing mas. You can aim for a reasonably priced costume for pretty mas (under $TT1, 500.00) and enjoy yourself Carnival Monday and Tuesday in some of the smaller bands. Other mas options include playing mud mas or J’Ouvert which is also quite fun. Even just being a spectator chipping down the road next to your favourite band or music truck is a real alternative to consider, though not quite as fulfilling as playing in a registered band.
Finally, when all the jumping in the street and feting is over, take some time to relax at one of the lovely beaches located in either Trinidad or the sister isle of Tobago. The cheaper way to get to Tobago is a three-hour scenic ride by boat at TT $100. 00 round trip rather than a 20-minute return flight that costs TT $300.00
Bonus – What to eat
While enjoying your time in Trinidad and Tobago savour on some of our local delicacies which are relatively cheap such as roti for approximately TT $25.00 to TT $40.00 or doubles starting at $4 for one in some areas. You can also get corn soup or boiled corn around the savannah. While you’re busy having fun don’t forget to hydrate with some coconut water to keep your energy levels high! Lastly, you can always buy groceries and try your hand at a local recipe.
It will be great if you rent a car to do all the driving and exploring around Trinidad. There are normally car rental companies that you can find at the airport or for cheaper options contact a local car rental owner but book early. Another choice is to have a family or friend take you around but remember to at least give them some gas money and ensure you have a designated driver. There is no Uber or Lyft here but have no fear, ride-sharing apps such as TT Ride Share, Travee, Caribbean Taxi, Drop Taxi, Ride Connect and Pink Cab are also readily available. It will be surely cheaper than a hired “H” plate driver. And there is good old City Gate where you can jump in a maxi to experience “shared minibus taxi ride” to different destinations across the country.
So come for a wine, buss a lil lime and enjoy your time, without spending all your dimes at Trini Carnival while on a budget. See you in the sweet island paradise of Trinidad and Tobago in February for Carnival 2020!