SURVIVING MARDI GRAS: Invaders’ Guide to What to Carry in Your Mardi Gras Backpack

Carnival season is the best time of year. It represents the culmination of everything that makes New Orleans great: food, drinks, revelry, and tourism (if you disagree, you should probably consider a new zip code).


But while fantastic, it’s not without struggle. The extra million or so people in town make normal activities like catching a cab (ok, so this is always a problem, no matter what time of year) or using a restroom a major ordeal. In order to eliminate the annoyances and be as happy as you look in your Instagram pics, you just need a little pre-parade prep. Here are the 15 things you need to survive the madness.

1. Alcohol.

Drinks will be overpriced: this is fact. Even if you aren’t against price gouging, the lines will be endless. This is my personal preference, but Jello shots are the perfect way to catch a buzz without having to wait in the other never-ending line for the bathroom.

2. Band-Aids.

For when your feet start blistering from all the walking, or when a bag of beads blasts you in the face.

3. Phone charger.

Even though you will have zero bars the entire day, somehow your phone will still end up dead… but when it comes to finding somewhere to plug it in, you’re on your own.

4. List of numbers.

When your phone does die, you can’t find that outlet, and you’ve lost all your friends chasing after that float that wouldn’t throw you anything good, rely on your trusty list of phone numbers (also handy for checking in with United as a reminder that you’re never making it home).

5. Your phone.

Equip yourself with the following apps: Find My Friends (for when they aren’t answering your calls), Mardi Gras Parade Tracker (to see when that parade is supposed to start), and Air P and P (to find the nearest restroom).

6. Ibuprofen.

All of the beverages associated with Mardi Gras (hurricanes, daiquiris, hand grenades, etc.) are also associated with hangovers.

7. Toilet paper.

Some things can be resolved with a good drip dry… and some things can’t.

8. Hand sanitizer.

Rub it all over your body because you’re going to be unclean from head to toe.

9. Snacks.

You’ll need something to absorb all that alcohol, and you really work up an appetite fighting little kids for their beads. I recommend Zapp’s because they are light and won’t take up too much room in your bag.

10. A barf bag.

Show some respect for your fellow parade goers and empty the contents of your stomach in a bag, not all over the street for others to step in.

11. Cash.

Street vendors aren’t going to accept credit – and neither will some cab drivers, prostitutes, or your drug dealer.

12. Jammy Packs.

Be in charge of the music in between all the marching bands.

13. Condoms.

Chances are you’ll fall in “Mardi Gras love” at least once during Carnival…but if you can’t remember their name, you don’t want anything else to remember them by either.

14. Driver’s license.

You know, so you can get into bars… or so the doctors in the emergency room will know your name when you are too drunk to tell them.

15. Extra space.

You’ll need it for all that swag you spent hours catching and schlepping around (that, sadly, will only end up in the trash a few days later).