Call or text us at (919) 697-8772

My top 10 Carnival must haves

Hey, it’s your girl Esha here.  Thanks for coming by to visit our blog!  If you’re looking for Trinidad Carnival essentials, then read on…

This week, I’m highlighting the products I cannot live without as I travel to any Carnival.  Having been to:

Let’s just say I’ve been to a lot of Carnival Parades!  Here are the products I cannot live without:

  1. Packing cubes
    • You might think this is a strange item to top my list, however please allow me to ‘splain. Having been to 5 out of 7 continents, when I’m traveling, my 2 biggest pet peeves are (1) hunting through piles of clothes in my suitcase for what I need and (2) living out of a suitcase!  This is why I love my Eagle Creek packing cubes.  Here’s what I do: I lay out my clothes flat in piles while packing.  One pile for tops, one pile for bottoms and one pile for dresses, all laid flat on top of each other.  I then fold each pile in half lengthwise and roll each pile of items together.  The neatly rolled piles go into my packing cubes and voila!  I can easily find everything once I arrive at my destination.  Upon arrival, I can then take all packing cubes out of my suitcase, put them into drawers (if I’m feeling lazy or in a rush).  My preference, if I have the time is to hang up my clothes so they don’t get too wrinkled while in the cube.  When using my packing cubes in this way, I find I don’t have to do too much ironing during my trip.  That means more time for partying!
  2. Mas stockings/tights
    • This item is a MUST for every Carnivalista for legs that look flawless while parading the streets and for your pics! I’m so pleased with the progress that stockings have gained over the years since I first started playing mas in Trinidad in 1998!  2 excellent choices are Carnivalista and Carnival Kicks.  Many of our clients prefer Carnival Kicks hosiery because they’re low waisted; no tucking and rolling required!  Call me old school, but no Carnival is complete without a little tuck and roll of your Carnival tights into your bikini or monokini (lol)!
  3. Comfortable shoes/boots
    • Ummm yeah. About this one: one of the pieces of advice that I cannot stress enough is make sure your shoes are comfortable for both the Carnival Parade and every party/fete you go to.  The last thing you want is to mash up yuh foot dem and then you cannot fully enjoy every part of your amazing experience!
    • I have a couple of recommendations:  my Minnetonka knee high boots have seen me through several Carnivals without any foot issues!  They are suede and while you might think they would make your feet feel hot, suede is a natural material so my feet feel cool and confortable throughout the long Carnival Parade days.  When I return home, I just take a damp cloth and wipe the dust and dirt off – they’re ready for the next Parade.  Bonus points for you if you get a pair in a neutral color; they will coordinate with several costumes over the years if you’re planning on becoming a repeat Carnivalista!
    • I also highly recommend Columbia hiking boots for J’ouvert (I go into J’ouvert some more below). Hiking shoes work perfectly for me.  Trust me, if they can protect your feet during a hike, then they’re perfect for anything J’ouvert can throw at you!  I find they also have more room for your toes than regular sneakers (i.e. a wider toe box).  They’re also washable – to help you remove as much paint as possible until de next J’ouvert.
  4. My J’ouvert gear!

    J’ouvert gear

    • If you’ve been following me for a while, then you know I live for J’ouvert! It’s always my fave Carnival event no matter where I go.  In case you don’t know what J’ouvert is, it’s an event that originated in Trinidad and is basically a huge street party with paint, mud, oil and powder!  You party very early in the morning through the streets, dutty from head to toe with drink in hand.  It’s pure freedom and as I said, my fave part of Carnival.  Other Carnivals around the world have versions of this event in their respective countires e.g. Foreday Morning in Barbados (love!).
    • That being said, since I attend at least 1 J’ouvert-type event every year, I have a collection of items that I reuse each year: shorts, socks, hiking shoes, undergarments and headwrap.  These items are already stained with paint even after being washed and are a staple of my J’ouvert collection.  I simply pack these items in my suitcase and wear the top that’s included in my purchased J’ouvert package.
    • If you’d like a suggestion of a headwrap to protect your hair, I really like Grace Eleyae’s turbans – they’re roomy enough for my natural hair, are satin lined and can easily accommodate a shower cap underneath it (in case I get bathed with a bucket of paint or mud).  It’s the red patterned item in the pic to the right.
  5. Carnival makeup kit
    • If you’re not getting your makeup professionally done (like we do for our clients) or you’re *ahem* makeup challenged (like me), then this little kit is a Carnivalista’s life saver! Created by Carnival Makeup Kits (@carnivalmakeupkits), these clever ladies thought of everything.  In your Carnival Makeup Kit, you’ll get glitter and gems to match/coordinate with your costume, natural hair lashes (so soft!) with lash glue, all contained in a convenient and handy waterproof cell phone case which can be used for J’ouvert!  We highly recommend Carnival Makeup Kits having used their products for several years.
  6. Flesh toned underpinnings
    • Although I’m finding that costumes are getting more and more skimpy, I still have this as a necessity on my list. The fabric that’s chosen for mas costumes in general aren’t very kind to your delicate areas (seriously), and are mostly unlined.  Because of this, I always like to wear a flesh toned panty underneath my mas bikini bottom or monokini (or whole suit).  Bonus points are given if I can also wear my flesh toned bra!
    • I love, love, loooooove the products from Nubian Skin!  Their shades are spot on for me and they have a variety of shades for every woman of color.  I’ve also gotten into Soma; they’re getting better with products that match a wide range of skin tones.  Lively is also a good choice for lightweight, affordable lingerie.  These types of undergarments are also a must for your fete and party outfits to disappear underneath your clothes (especially if you’re going to an all-white fete)!
  7. Just a girl and her Fete Kup…

    Fete Kup

    • I’m just a girl who’s a sucker for a Fete Kup! Since I bought 1 last year, we have been inseparable.  Wait, you don’t know what a Fete Kup is?  Please allow me to introduce you.  Fete Kups by Nicole (@fetekups) are amazing cups that keep drinks cold or hot AND look amazing – they’re blinged out in a design of your choice.  You just send a photo of your costume or your idea of a design to Nicole and she creates it!  I love that mine is gold because it coordinates with everything.  When I went to Jamaica Carnival this year, my Fete Kup was a real conversation starter too (lol).
  8. Sunscreen
    • Let’s get real people – Carnivals are usually held in the summertime when temperatures are hot!  A must for me is to protect my skin with sunscreen.  I really love Black Girl Sunscreen – I use it on both my body and my face.  When I use it, I don’t look grey in photos and I get a nice glow too!  To reapply during the day, I always have handy sunscreen packets.
  9. Makeup Setting spray
    • Speaking of really hot Carnivals, what’s a girl to do about her makeup? I’m a minimalist when it comes to makeup for any fetes that I go to.  For a Carnival Parade, if I’m doing my own makeup, I tend to get more glittery (smile).  However, for both events, I do not skip makeup setting spray.  I find it helps to give whatever I put on my face staying power!  I really like Urban Decay’s setting sprays.  I’ve used their All Nighter and although I find it’s a little on the oily side for me, I just do a quick blot after it dries and I’m good to go!  If you’d like to check out a few of our other Carnival makeup must haves, check out our guest blogger Merate’s post – 9 Makeup Products for a Picture Perfect Carnival.
  10. The must have Carnival pouch!

    Cute Parade pouch

    • As a Carnivalista, you’ve gotta have something to carry all your Parade essentials, right? So, why not make it something that matches/coordinates with your costume?  Since I go to many Carnivals, I try to get metallic pouches or small purses that can coordinate with multiple costumes.
    • Here’s what really matters though, make sure that you get something with a very sturdy strap in case someone tries to grab it off of you (safety first).  This will also help to keep it secured to you while jumping, dancing and wining throughout the day!  One of my faves was from Izzy and Liv; they had a metallic fanny pack in silver and rose gold that can coordinate with any costume.  They’re also nice and roomy to fit everything a Carnivalista may need on de road!  I’m able to carry my Canon camera (for the more high quality shots and video), cell phone, makeup touch up stuff, sunscreen packets and a snack (because you never know)…

Phew – that’s it!  Now you know what I cannot live without as a Carnivalista when I travel to experience Carnivals around the world!

Want more?

  • Get your free Ultimate Guide of Getting to and Surviving Carnival for more tips; click here to sign up for that.
  • Planning your own Trinidad Carnival trip?  Ultimate Trinidad Carnival All-Access™ to the rescue!  You’ll get everything you need – from accommodations to J’ouvert – and everything in between, so your Trinidad Carnival experience is seamless.  Click here to learn more.
  • And if planning your own Caribbean Carnival is not how you want to spend your time, then come along with us on the next one.  All you need to do is pack and show up (promise)!  Click here to find out about our Carnival experiences (just scroll to find your Carnival of choice).

Til de next lime,


About Esha:  As a travel curator and event planner with over 20 years of experience (whose been to 5 out of the 7 continents), Esha’s helped professional women who don’t have the time, energy, or resources to plan their own vacations so they can travel and enjoy unique, life-changing Caribbean experiences. Visit her website for more info or click the links below!

You may also like:

Follow us on…