Travel, Travel Tips

Carnival over 30: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

January 31, 2016

At 32 years old, I took my first trip to Trinidad Carnival and it was the most exhilarating experience of my entire life. I barely slept, I sustained injuries I couldn’t explain and came home thirsty to do it all again. Initially I wished I’d discovered this adult playground earlier, but in your 30s you can afford the plane ticket and are mature enough to grind on oil-covered strangers for a week and return home without offspring.

However, you’ll need to channel that invincible energy of your 20s because carnival is not a game. Professional football players have been known to take carnival lightly and end up tapping out within a few days. So plan ahead and be prepared to dance like it’s paying the rent for seven days straight!

TheGood_Carnival30sTHE GOOD
Your 30-something body still looks pretty damn good, which is great because you will be nearly naked. Your costume is essentially a few shoestrings, and a feather for good luck, as your glory roams free for the world to see. But relax, while you may not be college-skinny anymore, neither is anyone else on the road, and real curves are actually celebrated down there. No lie, in 2014 there’s was a song called “Rolly Polly” and the guy raved about how bad we wanted “a fat gal!” So add the local appreciation for thickness to that confident stride you hit in your 30s, and you’ll hit the road for the first time feeling like a glitter-covered sex kitten! Wait, no, a Victoria’s Secret model! Actually, all of that. A glitter-covered Victoria’s Secret angel covered in fairy dust with sex-kitten superpowers. It’s just that awesome!

TheBad_Carnival30sTHE BAD
Here’s a quick reality check, Trinidad Carnival is less like walking the runway and more like running a marathon with rum in your water bottle. The parade is 12 hours long for two days straight with the Caribbean sun roasting your skin like rotisserie. Every time you stop dancing you’ll waver between euphoria and exhaustion, praying silently that you don’t pass out in front of your homies.

Stopping by the gym the week before to ‘tighten up a lil’ bit’ won’t cut it for this sort of intensity, and your 30-something body takes longer to respond now. So get your cardio life in order two to three months in advance so you’re not caught gasping for air on the road like that old auntie who smokes 14 packs of Newports a day.

TheUgly_Carnival30sTHE UGLY
By now most of us have learned how to drink like professionals. Hydrate before and after, know your limits and pace yourself accordingly. But carnival is a completely different ball game and you can easily find yourself downing half a bottle of rum before 10 AM and dancing on top of guy in a wheelchair wearing a blinking cowboy hat. Hypothetically. Whatever. He liked it.

Anyway, there’s also this new thing called recovery time that creeps up in your 30s. One day you’re out innocently touching knees to elbows on a Tuesday and the next day at work your body is like nope. Not today.

Here’s the solution; the same way you pace your drinking, learn how to nap like a newborn. You’ll be coming home at all kinds of odd hours but whatever time it is when you get there – get in the bed. Don’t be up chatting with your crew about that Nigerian cutie you met with the cute British accent because the next thing you know it’ll be time to head out for J’ouvert and you’ll find yourself laid clean out in the middle of the street, covered in paint and snuggled up on a nice grassy curb like it’s a Sleep Number bed. Game over.


Are you over 30 and still hitting the road at carnivals around the world? What are your secrets to keeping up with the pace? Share in the comments below so we may collectively continue the debauchery will into our golden years!

Note: This post originally appeared on Parlour Magazine. Check them out for more travel & lifestyle tips!

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  • Reply Chanel | Cultural Xplorer January 31, 2016 at 7:30 pm

    This is great info – thanks! Turning 30 in July and have yet to make it to Trinidad Carnival however I am hoping to in 2017 🙂 The only carnival that I have been to was in Bermuda last summer and it was amazing!

    • Reply DaDiva February 20, 2017 at 5:56 pm

      Glad you enjoyed yourself in Bermuda Chanel. Hope we see you again this year!

      I’m over 30 and feting every year. My piece of advice is STRETCH!!! Before and after the road. Treat your body kind and it will be kind to you.

  • Reply Hotfeet February 3, 2016 at 3:18 pm

    I loved this article….it read like poetry

  • Reply Angela February 3, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    I did Cropover in 2015 and Im going back for 2016. My suggestion, if you not an in shape person than you need to be in the gym longer than 2 or 3 months beforehand. I don’t mean it to just to look good but for stamina purposes. Drink water when you have your meals and try to have three meals a day if possible for energy purposes.

    i think thats it.

  • Reply Lauren February 3, 2016 at 9:20 pm

    Ha! Great advice!

  • Reply Lillian February 4, 2016 at 7:16 am

    I just hit 30 and honestly either you’re born with it(trini/Bajan blood here) or you gotta train for this. Hit the gym 6 months ahead and start hitting up the local Caribbean parties where you live to get accostomed to the pace of things. All your tips in addition to what I said…you will be a fetein champion!

  • Reply Cest La Vibe February 6, 2016 at 8:06 pm

    What band are you playing with?

  • Reply Hotep2You February 8, 2016 at 9:44 pm

    Love It! Had me laughing. ..literally out loud!

  • Reply Rae May 25, 2016 at 9:06 pm

    I LOVED reading this post. Especially since I’m planning to go to some carnival SOME. WHERE. next year. It’s just something I’d like to experience. And when I do, I’ll be sure to keep these tips in mind. LOL!

  • Reply S S July 15, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    need to find time to sleep…..very important!!!!and the rest just takes care of itself!

  • Reply She Traces July 30, 2016 at 1:46 pm

    Carnaval is still on my to do list and I am thinking of warming up with Caribana before the real deal. I’ve been trying to get there since 2014 but it takes month of planning and an insider to get info about costumes for Mas. Also, gotta prep for that conversation about going with the bf. Lol At this rate, hopefully I make it before 35!

  • Reply L Thompson September 3, 2016 at 2:42 am

    I totally enjoyed this post! I participated in Caribana (Canada) in my twenties and I’ve been dying to make it to Trinidad ever since. I’m Bahamian and also participated in my country’s carnival but I am sure the Trinidadian carnival is more intense! Unfortunately, I am now in my early thirties and I’ve questioned how I would manage if I were to finally go! This article was a great guide for me and other carnivalians in their thirties!!!! Hopefully, I’ll make it to Trinidad soon.

  • Reply Donna Marie January 15, 2017 at 7:28 pm

    I’m a New Orleanian and we think we party hard. We drink alcohol any hour of the day and can dance and party non-stop and especially at Mardi Gras. But Trinidad Carnival ain’t Mardi Gras and I won’t be in New Orleans.

    I’m looking forward to my first Trinidad Carnival in Feb. 2017. I consider myself very high energy and fun loving but I’m not 30 or 35. I’ll be celebrating my 50th year in a shoestring costume and on the road for 12 hour days, dancing and flaunting my stuff. OMG! I have not been consistent in the gym, nor with my diet, but I’m ready! My recent cardio includes dancing to Trinidad Carnival music for 2017. I’m winded and in need of a break after one or two songs. I don’t know if my body, or my mind is prepared for this adventure but I’ll take your advice and nap like a newborn, stay hydrated and pace myself.

    Thank you for the good info.

    • Reply Monique February 19, 2017 at 5:54 pm

      The adrenaline will sustain you until Tuesday night and then you will sleep like the dead. Kudos to you for jumping into this adventure!

  • Reply T February 16, 2017 at 6:45 pm

    You have to really work on your stamina first…body second…so hitting the gym as soon as you may even think you are going. I did Carnival and crop over both in 2015.
    I started personal training in October 2014 and continued up until the week of me leaving for Barbados. Best money spent.

  • Reply D Doug February 17, 2017 at 5:20 am

    I’m 41 and this will be Trinidad Carnival #6 for me. It’s all about pacing yourself. I have the physical stamina. The problem is the distance combined with the alcohol. I am not Caribbean but I have always been able to hold it down. I think this time will be no different. Again…Pace Yourself!!!

  • Reply American Bacchanalist February 17, 2017 at 5:50 am

    My first TnT carnival was when I was 31 and pure adrenaline and excitement kept me pumping. The next year I was a year older and it seems that adrenaline didn’t pump the way it did the year before. This year lots of cardio, hydration (close to 2 gallons a day starting 3 weeks out) and rememerbing that the liquor won’t run out and I have the entire fete to get drunk… but like you mentioned naps are crucial… I nap in the maxi to the fete, I nap in the maxi from the fete, i napped once waiting for the maxi after the fete… those blinkers can save you from being that guy passed out in the middle of the party

  • Reply M G February 18, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    Love it!!! Just what I needed to read the day before flying to Trinidad with my 38 year old 3 month pregnant self!!!

  • Reply Latanya Linton February 18, 2017 at 7:39 pm

    Oh boy! I have yet to touch road in Trinidad! I’ve only done Kadooment (Barbados) and 2017 will be only 5 years of doing it. I want to experience other carnivals around the world and I’m 32, so my secret is to only manage the 2 jump up days. In Barbados is Foreday (Jouvert) – the Saturday before Kadooment – and Kadooment Day – the first Monday in August. I guess I won’t be considered a certified feter, but at 32 with 2 children, that’s enough for me!

  • Reply Stefan sobers February 19, 2017 at 12:20 am

    This will b my 7th trinidad carnival in a row, and the best advice would be:
    -Cardio 6 months out
    -a good pair of sneakers for Monday and Tuesday ( good insoles if you are a girl)
    -pick a drink and stick with it for your trip…this isn’t the time to be mixing drinks or trying new mixes, lol cause you will be out the game by day 3

  • Reply Looking wd February 19, 2017 at 10:01 am

    I’m from London and go to Notting Hill Carnival every year. Am almost 37. It’s most likely not as intense as Trinidadian Carnival but if you are more involved, like if you go to pre parties and jouvert it gets more physically challenging. I hate gym but do hiking and dance for fitness and I think it helps and more fun too. Yes try to sleep whenever you can. Don’t forget to eat well!! Before during and after! Give your body energy to burn, plus fatty food doesn’t let alchohol get to your blood stream too quickly. Your body will thank you for that later. And don’t worry what your belly looks like. Hydrate, which means you need loo more often. So I only play with mas band that has a toilet truck 😉
    Comfortable shoes with good support. Forget heels. Trust your body has reserves you have no idea about. The music and dance and fun of it all will keep you high and going for hours and hours.
    I once had a food (ahem..rum) poisoning on Sunday and it made me stay awake all night. And the next day is Monday, when you get to wear your costume I thought hard about going after being ill and having no sleep plus it was pissing with London rain, so I went. I was 35 then and am not the fittest and the healthiest person. Had a brilliant time as always! we finished at 9pm and all of us were still buzzing with energy. I had no rum that day at all but it was probably a good thing!

  • Reply Mel February 20, 2017 at 10:56 pm

    As a carnival lover I am 40 plus, My mom is 60 plus, the grands 80 plus …”and we jammin’ still” 🎼🥁

  • Reply M'moni February 21, 2017 at 3:26 am

    I am in my early 40’s and will be traveling with my other friends who are in their early 40’s and mid-30’s. We are from the Caribbean(me-Jamaica) Central America and Nigeria. We are all looking forward to jumping up in Carnival as we fly out Friday and ready to wine up in the fetes and on de road. We have started working out since last year along with clean eating which including green and veggie smoothies. For me, I have the energy of a 20 yr as long as I get some decent rest. I played in Mas in Caribana all day without getting tired. However, I know TNT Carnival is not even close. As long as I am eating and stay hydrated, I will not become inebriated.

  • Reply Kessa February 23, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    I am a Trinidadian and really enjoyed reading your article Brooklyntraveladdict! Another suggestion especially for first timers regards safety….stay in numbers if you can….even if you come with one person….Trinidadians are by and large friendly people….so hook up with persons next door if possible to attend fetes & other events. There is a group which facilitates visitors by purchasing tickets in advance for fetes and arranging transport to and from the fetes…for a cost of course. Otherwise just pace yourself….you don’t have to attend every fete and you don’t have to spend the 12 hours on the streets in the parade if you’re not physically fit enough to do so….know your limits. For a list of events: or

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