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The Ultimate Trinidad Carnival / Crop Over Packing List

They say no trip is without a good story, and I’ve got one to tell. In 2015 I found myself in a hotel room in Trinidad in tears—my carnival costume was absolutely stunning, with a bra that barely covered a nipple. There was no time to get a new one and if it wasn’t for the fact that I had a glue gun, an extra flesh-toned bra, coffee and some matching extra fabric courtesy of a friend, I would’ve been the prettiest girl on the road…in a tank top and feathers. Lesson learned? When you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready. And when it comes to the Caribbean’s two largest carnival celebrations, Trinidad Carnival and Barbados’ Crop Over, your “a-game” means that you already have everything you need in your bag before you arrive.

If this is your first time jumping or playing mas—what you pack could spell the difference between a carnival to love, and one that is unforgettable for all the wrong reasons. To help, we’ve consulted with our crew of seasoned, multi-island carnival regulars to compile the ultimate packing list that will get you from Trinidad, to Barbados and beyond.

While this list was inspired by these two festivals, this list to could arguably be used for any carnival throughout the Caribbean.

Costume + Road Lifesavers

  • Travel sewing kit with double thread. [ link to buy ]
  • A pack of safety pins of all sizes. [ link to buy ]
  • Two or three pairs of flesh-toned fishnet and/or SHEER TO WAIST pantyhose or stage tights (if you choose to rock them) Check out Nude Barre, Carnival Stockings, Carnivalista and more websites!
  • Monistat Chafing Gel. This is a winner for “thigh rub” if you choose not to wear pantyhose.
  • Makeup setting spray. You WILL sweat…but your makeup should stay on! [ link to buy ]
  • Makeup Blotting sheets or a small, dark handkerchief that can be folded in your wristlet. [link to buy]
  • Makeup gems / rhinestones, etc if you plan on wearing them. [ link to buy ]
  • Eyelash glue or spirit gum and remover for your makeup gems. [ link to buy ]
  • Extra gems that are similar or identical to what is on your costume. Many bands will provide you with that information (model numbers, pictures, etc) on request so you can order them and have a back-up in case of any last minute alterations or costume fixes. Websites like Shidor and Amazon are great resources!
  • A bikini / swimsuit, etc that resembles your costume’s body wear in color and material. In the event that your costume does not fit, this will be your last-minute lifesaver!
  • A flesh-toned G-string/thong to wear under your costume.
  • Insoles. Bring a few packs of your favorite insoles for all shoes. [ link to buy ]
  • Wedge sneakers, flat “carnival boots” or comfortable shoes that are at least one half-size bigger than what you normally wear. This will allow room for your insoles and for your feet to naturally slide/swell with ease and less pain. If you are playing frontline, consider a comfortable wedge sneaker or boot with a rubber sole that will elongate your legs in your costume.
  • Small glue gun and glue sticks (mandatory). [ link to buy ]
  • Clear nail polish (to stop runs in stockings).
  • A road purse. This can be a wristlet (especially for frontliners), or a cross-body. Most carnival bands will give you a small bag, but by bringing your own you can control the amount of space you will need and have something that compliments your outfit! Leave the band bag for a keepsake or wet swimsuit, etc bag. If you don’t want to carry anything, consider a boot or arm purse.[ link to buy ]
  • Feather dust. In the event it rains, this powder will keep your feathers intact so you don’t look like a wet chicken. [ link to buy ]

For J’ourvet + Caesars Army AM Bush (Paint & Powder Parties)

Basically, your clothes will get DESTROYED while having fun. So be prepared to dump everything you wear/bring in the trash when it’s over.

  • A bottle of baby oil to keep the paint from sticking to your skin. Use generously 🙂
  • Cut off shorts, black bikini bottoms or black boy shorts or or a combo of all three.
  • Dedicated bra and underwear as the paint, water and powder will stain through. That or a bathing suit works fine, just don’t plan on keeping it.
  • A headscarf you like or some even wear a cheap and fun wig. Most bands will give you a scarf, but always bring a backup. If you don’t want to wear anything, bring a heavy-duty/clarifying shampoo and a good conditioner + oil to wash out all the paint, etc. We like this one from Shea Moisture.
  • Sneakers or boots you don’t mind destroying. These MUST have a good rubber sole as the streets/grass can get slippery.
  • A water-resistant/water-proof fanny pack or pouch.
  • Waterproof phone case if you plan on posting while partying. Trust us. [ link to buy ]
  • A black hand towel if you are staying in a private home/rental villa. Most hotels will have wash-off stations that you must pass through before you return to your room. Be sure to check beforehand and if there aren’t towels to use, bring a black towel so that you don’t destroy your private property’s linens. [ link to buy ]

For The Fetes + Boatrides

  • Wristlet purses that go with everything. Cross-body styles work too but can get in the way when you are dancing. Leave your expensive purse at home. [ link to buy ]
  • Swimwear + cute bikini cover-ups for beach fetes and select boatrides.
  • Waterproof phone case if you plan on posting while partying. Trust us. [ link to buy ]
  • Cute, flat sandals, etc. Many fetes are in places where you will be walking down slopes, on gravel, etc to get to the main area. Bring a wedge if you want, but leave the stilettos for the club.

General “Need to Survive” List

  • Spray sunscreen. [ link to buy ]
  • Insect Repellent. [ link to buy ]
  • Daily vitamins & supplements.
  • Alka Seltzer – great hangover cure (Thanks Tracey!) [ link to buy ]
  • Neosporin – for insect bites [ link to buy ]
  • Bobby and straight pins + your favorite hair accessories X 10. You don’t want to have to make a beauty supply run…you will be too busy partying. [ link to buy ]
  • A pack of EmergenC packets and any other electrolyte/hydration tablets or packets such as Nuun or Drip Drop and Pedialyte. Travel size packets of these are road life-savers. [ link to buy ]
  • Turmeric. Yes turmeric! You can find this pretty much anywhere or bring a small travel container full of it. If you often find that your fingers, etc swell in extreme heat—water mixed with turmeric and/or cucumbers + water work almost instantly to bring it down and then drink more water. [ link to buy ]
  • Tiger Balm / Panadol or Extra Strength Tylenol. The best combo for foot and leg pain to get you through. [ link to buy ]
  • Condoms, dental dams, etc if that is on the itinerary. Safe sex over everything!
  • Advil, Tylenol, Zyrtec/Benadryl, Aloe Vera Gel.
  • Hand sanitizer (wipes or purse size bottle) for fetes and mobile bathrooms.
  • A phone ring. If you absolutely have to have your phone out and ready, consider getting a ring for you case which make holding your phone much easier! [ link to buy ]
  • A stain pen a la Tide (bring 2). [ link to buy ]
  • Tampons, pads, etc because you seriously never know!
  • Facial moisturizer with sunscreen. [ link to buy ]
  • A compact mobile charger. [ link to buy ]
  • Earplugs (for loud sound systems on the road). [ link to buy ]
  • A dedicated Epi-pen, inhaler, etc JUST for travel.
  • Snacks on snacks on snacks. Small packs of nuts, granola/protein bars, crackers, cheese bites, fruit rolls, etc.

Feel like we missed something? Chat us in the comments! Also, if this IS your first time heading to Trinidad, get into our first-timer’s “need to know” guide here.

Last 5 posts by Shannon Washington