As someone who enjoys going to carnivals on a regular basis, I have learnt some things that I wish I knew when I first started doing this. I want to share them with you in a FAQ format. If you feel there are some points I didnt tackle, feel free to drop me a line on the Contact page.
How much do carnivals cost?
Many carnivals are free or cost as little as a few pounds. However, well established carnivals like the one from Rio de Janeiro can cost up to several hundred pounds depending on how close you want to be to the parade.
When should I buy the tickets?
The earlier, the better. This means however, that you should make sure you are available at that time of the year. It can be tricky if you have a profession where vacation days arent exactly set in stone. Most carnivals that require you to buy a ticket have early bird offers especially if you pay online. Apart from this, you risk facing sold outs if you wait too long.
When should I make hotel and airfare reservations?
You have 2 options here: you play it safe and book everything a couple of months in advance or you wait for last minute deals. If you prefer the second option, you should know that you need a bit of luck and that you risk not finding a place to stay or plane tickets because tourism usually experiences a spike whenever a big event is organized in that city. My suggestion is to play it safe, but hey, some people enjoy the risk and would go with that if it means they get a better deal.
Should I travel by car?
This question is a bit tricky. If your destination is reachable by car in a matter of a few hours, its best to take this option if you want to save money. But if you have to drive for lets say an entire day, you will already be tired when you get there. In this case, airfare is more desirable. Whatever you choose, traveling by car inside a city that holds a carnival is a nightmare. So, youll have to give up your car at least for the day of the carnival because many streets are closed and there will be a lot more cars and consequently angry drivers on the road.
Start with your ID, passport if needed, phone with external battery and charger, and a plastic raincoat that you can carry in your pocket at all times. Also, dont forget about cash. Dont bring too much that it raises suspicion but enough to have a comfortable trip. Using cards abroad can be tricky and you might be charged higher fees when you use the ATM or pay at the store.
All in all, the best piece of advice is to prepare in advance for the trip: take time off work, purchase carnival and airplane tickets, make hotel reservations. Have cash on you and be ready for rainy weather. Other than that, dont forget to have fun!