How to Pay for a Carnival Vacation Without Breaking the Bank

Carnival is ADDICTIVE. Once you get a taste, you will be back for more. As carnival enthusiasts, we plan out our 2-3 carnival trips for the year while many people are still wondering how we’re able to pull this off and live.

Keep in mind everyone’s circumstances are different, some have discretionary funds, others stay with family to save on lodging etc. As usual, I am here to provide some tips.


Having money to save, means you need to have money to spend. Take a hard look at your current spending habits to see if you can afford a carnival trip. Start with your small luxuries. Do you buy lattes at Starbucks daily? Do you shop a lot? Do you eat out daily or go to happy hour? Re-allocate that money toward your carnival budget. I LOVE herbal tea..Guess who makes their tea at home? ME! That extra $5 per day is put into my Vacation account.


There is a reason this quote exists: the early bird gets the worm; and this applies to Carnival also. Part of being early, is planning to show up. You played with the idea of going to Grenada (SpiceMas) for Carnival for months. Get your funds in order so you end up paying less. Buying your flight to Grenada once they post could be $600usd vs $1200usd if you purchase it late.

The same applies to fetes — early bird tickets post, you buy them. This also spares you the stress of paying the markup on fetes when people re-sell them to you. Imagine paying $300usd for a ticket that released at $140usd. You snooze, you lose. 

Loving a band? Take advantage of their low-cost costume deposit. That could be $150usd while they are promoting vs. $300usd when you miss the cut off.

You get the point 


Two heads are better than one. Costs will always be less when it’s shared amongst a group. A group of four is the perfect number to offset hotel and transportation costs. If you plan to travel with 10 plus people, some carnival bands offer group rates, ask them if they offer any discounts, that $10 off can really add up.


Paying off your costume early not only saves you time during distribution but it also eases the burden of spending $500 all at once. If possible, spend some money paying down your costume every paycheck. Whether it’s $25 or $100 per check, every bit helps.


If you are based in the USA and own a smart phone, there are apps that allow you to save mindlessly. I use Qapital [use code xw2ds8bm to get $25 once you sign up] and the app rounds up my purchases and puts this extra change in my piggy bank. which rolls over my purchases to the next dollar and saves it for me. For example if I spend $3.40, it will put 60 cents in my Qapital account. This really adds up! I bought a flight for $900 from this same piggy bank last year. I didn’t miss the money.

Oportun (formerly Digit) and the ‘Keep the Change‘ program with Bank of America works the same way. Ally Bank also has a “sinking funds” system where you can automate your savings in the same manner.


I travel a lot. For work and for carnival, that said, I have a mileage account set up with my favorite airlines. This is more of a tip for the veterans but using miles to purchase your flights can be a lifesaver. Perfect example, this year, flights to Jamaica went up to $600 from the NYC area to Kingston. I paid $49.00usd (just for the taxes) for my flight because miles took care of the rest. Granted, you need a good 30K miles for a flight to the islands but every bit helps so make sure you create a mileage account and try to use the same airline consistently.


You do not need to attend every party, opt out of one or two events, this tactic can really save you money. Two events these days could easily be $300USD, spend some time exploring the island or chilling on the beach.

Carnivalists based in the Caribbean, what are some of your carnival saving tips?

Yours in Mas,


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Carnival from a masquerader perspective - Where to fete? Band reviews? What to wear? I got you!

7 thoughts on “How to Pay for a Carnival Vacation Without Breaking the Bank

  1. Creativity is a must when booking flights. Sometimes you get a better deal on flights when you book one way instead of round trip. That also helps out if you were late booking and the round trip is very pricey. You can also save flying out of other airports than the usual and within reason of course. Western New Yorkers can fly out of Toronto and Ohio. Philly isn’t an awful drive or bus trip from the DC area and even NYC. You can fly into and out of Long Beach instead of LAX. You might do better Trinidad time flying into Bim first because you can get a super cheap flight into POS, especially on the return home, especially if you are in NYC.

    Buy all of your things slowly and one thing at a time, shoes, weave, clothes for fetes, accessories, toiletries, you can also send the makeup artist a little bit of money every few weeks if you hired one.

    Don’t wait until the last minute to buy everything, It’s in your best interest to have everything paid off and all your stuff ready way before you leave if you don’t have discretionary coins. You don’t want to have to pay for your costume or really anything important out of your spending money in those last few weeks and days. Don’t want to have to end up doing something strange for the change to eat on your vacation, or giving your friends the I don’t got it look when it’s time to pay for cabs or the rental.

    Don’t do frontline with backline pockets. Don’t try to do Trinidad or Cropover with Caribana coins. Be honest about your financial situation and go to Carnivals and choose costumes that you can afford because nothing sucks more than losing deposit money or messing up your friends plans last minute because you can no longer afford the trip.

  2. Everything you said! Early is the name of the game. What seems like an extra $25 here and there adds up quickly. I have a separate account for just travel. Each paycheck, I have a fixed amount set aside as a direct deposit each month into a savings account that accrues interest. It’s nice to see your account grow even if it’s just by $2/month lol. It’s also great not to have to think about (and be disciplined in) making sure I don’t spend that money on something else.

    Also, this is not technically related to saving but budget wisely. And just be honest about where your finances are and proceed from that reality.

  3. I normally do about 2 a year, if I can I’ll try to do 3. I’m married but I do carnival with my friends, but that means money is a bit more tied up than single people. What I do is allocate one of my credit cards toward solely carnival purchases. I’ll pay down on the card throughout the year or one lump sum and then when it comes to purchasing flights, outfits, costumes, I’ll just do them all on the “carnival card”. Then pay it off again for the next carnival. Sometimes I’ll do the same thing but with another checking account that is solely mine. Whatever I have to spare I’ll put toward my carnival purchases. I’m from Dominica but I do the smaller carnivals like Miami and caribana but hope to one day do Trinidad and crop over. I’m looking into trying vincy or something soon though. So many to try so little funds, but I’m working on it! Thank you for this post. Very helpful 🙂

  4. After read “ D “ post I decided to add my 2 cents lols . I’m a young lady 22 years old , on my own & in the army and working a federal job. While having about 3 NYC carnivals under my belt about two years ago “ after stumbling across Globalcarnivalist on ig ( back in 2016 ) and she sold me wanting / craving to have an International carnival under my belt. Picking Barbados Cropover to attend and being a SOLO traveler I went to work on *RESEARCH* Globalcarnival give me the blue print and I built on that. So with that being said these were the tips I rolled with for Cropover 2017 and I’m swearing by for my upcoming Carnivals which include “ Jamaica 2018 , St. Maarten 2018 , Guyana 2018 & BHW 2018 “

    1) THE MONEY : reevaluating spending habits I was able to “ and still am “ book one thing every two weeks. Starting off by securing flight and Stay.

    *As mentioned above “ the earlier the BETTER. I spent all of 2016 researching for 2017 . Booking my flights ONE WAYS I managed to go from NYC to MIA ( stayed one night ) to BIM and returning from BIM to TNT ( Stayed there for 2 days ) then to NYC all for about $700. *only because I chose to stop in TNT* “ I got 3 trips in ONE “. Ideally I try to have my flight booked a year to 6 months in advance, cause anything after that just seems like highway robbery.
    *While I find Hotels to be quite pricey during carnival I opted to go the Air bnb route which I absolutely love : 1 night MIA stay in a simple studio apartment $43, 5 nights in an amazing one bedroom apartment in Bridgetown $275, and 1 night in TNT in yet another one bedroom apartment $44. So just off the strength that I take my time , read reviews , ask questions and have had great experience dealing with Air bnb it’s my choice of stay no matter the trip.

    2)PICKING THE BAND FOR ME ; whether it is backline, mid line or front line I have to love Dey costume with in Financial reasoning. Can’t want Champagne with Shandy money. Look at it this way the fluff , frills and feathers does restrict ones self from getting BAD at times so take that into consideration. Cute for pictures but a real handful on the road.

    3)IN FETE AFTA FETE ; I did the same Carnival Credit card idea. “ YES I got a credit card JUST for fete tickets “ choosing a card with a $700 limit I had / have room to attend as many fetes as my heart content & using my “ every two week pay method “ I’m able to max out and bring back down in a matter of 1-2 months then going again for the next Carnival.

    4)Clothes, Accessories, and all essentials needed ; AliExpress and Sales racks are my best friends “ GETTING ALOT for very little. “ yes at times with AliExpress shipping take about a month but that bothers me non because I’ve placed orders about 6 months out from needing em. Stores like H&M,Forever21,Fashion Nova always have great vacation finds.

    And Finally 5) RELAX and BREATH you should have all bases covered ATLEAST 2-4 months before your flight date if you’ve planned accordingly and organized uno self from EARLY !

    I hope after this read I’ve inspired or help some young Carnivalista, trying to live their best life thur the most thrilling life expreience that is Carnival.

    1. Thanks for the tips. I relate to you the most because I also work within the government. As new solo traveler myself, how do you manage to make new friends? How do you ensure your safety as a young female travelling alone to different carnivals? I have booked a flight and accommodation to JA for 2019’s carnival and I need ALL the tips. I have been doing tons of research as well. Anything else I should know or keep in mind?

  5. My favourite tip for group planning (or even for your own reference) is Google sheets. Throw every expense in there from flights to fete tickets. Everyone can see prices and deadlines in one place, so less hassle in the group chat. You can even create a column with estimates to assess the affordability.

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