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!
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!
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.
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!