For the sake of this list, let’s clarify who this is aimed for: someone without kids, without a Mardi Gras “campsite,” and without the luxury of a home near the Mardi Gras route (or a friend who lives nearby). Dear average Mardi Gras-goer without serious responsibilities, this tool kit is for you.
Pack wisely. Bring at least a cross body bag or fanny pack. For those of you who want to be hands-free, I would use a backpack (enough of beverages to last the evening typically don’t fit in a purse or fanny pack).
Don’t expect to easily obtain a drink along the route. It will be miserable to depend on bars, restaurants and friends for your libations for the night. Instead, be prepared! Pack water, soda, beer or liquor. I recommend mini (red) wine bottles (with accompanying plastic cups, of course). They’re light in your bag and don’t need to be kept cool to enjoy. And drinking wine is classy when compared to the lushes around you.
3. Straight Cash
Unless you’re in the service or babysitting industry, you generally don’t have cash on hand. You should make an exception for Mardi Gras. Take five minutes to stop by the bank or get cash back at Walgreen’s. It’s easier to buy a drink with cash and get out of the crowded bar as fast as you can; this will keep you calm and prevent you from leaving a tab open. Keep cash on hand for street vendors and bathrooms, too.
Speaking of bathrooms, finding a bathroom during Mardi Gras is always an obstacle, especially if you’re a female. Pack some toilet paper, paper towels or napkins in your bag since toilet paper in bathrooms during Mardi Gras is a rare treat; and if you’re hiding in a bush, TP surely isn’t available. While we’re on the topic of bathrooms, I recommend bringing some water-free antibacterial hand sanitizer.
5. Phone Charger
With the high concentration of party-goers all simultaneously fighting for a cell phone signal, your phone battery will be zapped. You never know where you’ll land or if a generous corner store owner will let you charge your phone, so bring it to be safe.
Everyone knows to wear comfortable shoes, but make sure those comfortable shoes aren’t sandals. Mardi Gras gets gross, so I recommend shoes that you plan on throwing out or can clean (like rain boots). Don’t forget to bring an extra layer if you’re going from day to night. New Orleans weather is wacky, and although the day parade may begin at 70 degrees, don’t be surprised when it drops to 40 degrees by 10 p.m. Sacrifice that sequin bikini top; at the end of the day, comfort outweighs costumes.
Gasp! For you fish out there, water is the last thing on your mind. But if you’re staying out day through night, you will need it. Force yourself to drink water whenever you can. Most bars have a water cooler near their entrance.
Don’t expect it to be easy. If you choose to use a cab or Uber, expect those to be hard to come by, and if you’re too close to the party, you’ll be sitting in traffic. Be safe if you ride a bike, and make sure you use a U-lock. Drunk drivers are everywhere, so take side streets. Or just plan on walking since you’ll most likely end up walking anyway.
9. Meeting Place
I know this is such a ”mom thing,” but there are times when you lose a friend who wasn’t supposed to be lost. Choose a meeting spot just in case.
Advice on Mardi Gras throws: Leave some room in your pocket or bag for your souvenirs. Don’t pick beads up off the ground. Collecting plastic cups should be a top priority.