Tips: Places to go on a Carnival budget

So it’s a little under 100 days before Trinidad Carnival 2018. If you’re still not sure if you’ll be on the road in 2018, but feeling the peer pressure building, this post may be for you. Over the years Carnival has become ridiculously expensive. The first and only time I played was NOT that long ago, but the price I paid was literally half of what people currently have to shell out for two days on the road.

If you’re weighing your options and travel is one of them, as I mentioned in my post on best times to travel in 2018, Carnival is in the top 3! It gives you a four day vacation which can be extended if you take some vacation days from work.

Note that by “Carnival budget” I don’t mean the money you’ll spend for the entire season but just the money you’re likely to spend to play mas on Carnival Monday and Tuesday. The cost differs according to various factors but empirical evidence has shown that it can range from $5000-10,000 TTD. The former if you’re super low maintenance and not bent on getting Monday Wear, professional make up, playing front line and a new hairstyle and the latter if you are.

So if you’re on the fence about Carnival, I’ve decided to make the travel option a little easier. To match the range above, I’ve put together five places you can visit during Trinidad Carnival for the exact same price.

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Opportunities are somewhat endless – you can literally go to almost any Caribbean island, quite a number of countries in South America and many states in North America. Even London is an option! However, many times tickets are reasonable and then you do some research or actually visit and realise accommodation, tours, places of interest etc are quite pricey.  So I’ve decided to write on what I know for sure.

The trips have been costed per person (TTD) and applies for two people flying out of Port of Spain from Carnival Friday to Tuesday (February 9-13, 2018).

Here are some lah hay’s you can take for the Carnival 2018 long weekend!

Barbados – $3690 TTD


Flight: $1460 (Liat)

It’s a short trip so pack light and avoid checking your luggage in. This may be the only way to ensure your luggage arrives with you when flying with Liat.

Accommodation: $1460 (AirBnb) [$730 TTD per person]

Try staying in an AirBnb – it’s cheaper than a hotel. You know what kind of place you’d be comfortable in but I suggest a studio apartment or house so you have your own space. I’d suggest the Barbados Swiss Chalet but it’s already booked for the Carnival weekend so you can try here or here. If you’re travelling with a group, even better as  splitting costs will make accommodation even more affordable.

Spending Money: $1000- $3000 TTD

This really depends on what you want to do. You can find somewhere close to the beach and relax on the beach all day and use their public transport to get around. If you do this you’ll be safely under $1000 but if you want to see some of the country this may entail renting a vehicle or doing tours which would of course result in more money being spent.

Suggested things to do: You can have a read of what I did in Barbados last Carnival for ideas on what to do.

St Lucia – $4,400 TTD


Flight: $1897 TTD (Liat)

Accommodation: $2000 TTD ( AirBnb) [$1000 TTD per person]

If you want to splurge, I suggest the Coco Palm Resort but that takes you up to $4000 for the entire trip. If you want to keep within the budget above, try Caribbean Dream or this apartment. Both are central and have good reviews. To save even more, you can stay in a private room in someone’s home or an apartment with shared facilities.

Spending Money: $1500 – $3000 TTD

Again, this really depends on what you want to do. A tour, food and some more exploration will cost $1500 for the least. If you just want to lime at the beach, it’ll be less.

Suggested things to do: Gros Islet Friday Nights, take a tour of the island which includes a stop at the Pitons and Soufriere Volcano, lime in the Rodney Bay area, take a sunset tour on a catamaran. Have a read of my lah hay to St. Lucia for more ideas.

Curacao – $5360 TTD


Flight: $2690 TTD (Surinam Airways)

This flight leaves on Thursday Feb 8, 2018 as flights on the Friday are $4200+ TTD.

Accommodation: $1325 TTD [$662.50 TTD per person]

Have you seen Curacao? Every single building is cute! All the AirBnb spaces are in brightly coloured, very central buildings. There are many options for the dates but here and here are the best picks.

Spending Money: $2000 TTD

This can be less if you’re not bent on splurging on meals and drinks.

Suggested things to do: Customised tour of the country with Sand and Stilettoes, Kayaking and Snorkelling with Adrenaline Tours, Train Trolley Tour if you’re into history and architecture and the Kura Hulanda Museum. Have a read of my lah hay to Curacao for my ideas.

Lah Hay Tip! – Contact World Travel Agents and ask if they have any specials for Curacao for Carnival. A group of us did a Girls Trip there in October and spent $5000 for an all inclusive hotel and flight for 4 days. If you’d prefer to stay in a hotel and relax, this package is better for you.

Panama – $7200 TTD

Image courtesy: Copa Airways

Flight: $4500 TTD (COPA)

This flight can be much cheaper if you have a US Visa and can travel through Miami. You’ll save at least $600-1000 TTD.

Accommodation: $1400 TTD [$700 TTD per person]

I advise staying in Casco Viejo but most of the studio apartments are quite expensive. This apartment is central, has good reviews and is the cheapest I could find but unless you want to splurge, getting a private room may not be a bad idea for this trip.

Spending Money: $2000+ TTD

My trip to Panama isn’t until December so I can’t put my head on a block for this one. From my research though, to see a bit of the city, go on a day tour, eat and relax $2000 TTD is the least you’ll need.

Suggested things to do: Panama CanalCasco Viejo, Amador Causeway. If your Spanish isn’t great and you don’t trust exploring alone, then contact Mario or Orville for a good city tour.

Jamaica – $7130 TTD


Flight: $3761 TTD (Caribbean Airlines)

Accommodation: $1730 TTD (AirBnb) [$865 TTD per person]

You have a lot of options but I recommend here and here.

Spending Money: $2500+ TTD

Suggested things to do: Spend at least one day in Ocho Rios and go to Dunn’s River Falls and Margaritaville. In Kingston, go to the Bob Marley Museum, Devon House, have brunch at Terra Nova or Tea Tree Creperie, drinks at Chilitos, jerk at Scotchie’s…if you actually plan to go to Jamaica message me and I’ll give you an itinerary; I’m very familiar with Jamaica so this list is almost endless!

So there you have it, five places you can visit for the Carnival long weekend! If the travel bug bit you while reading this list, hop over to Google Flights and track flights to one of these destinations. You can also use one of my trusted Trip Planners to plan that lah hay right 🙂

Happy Lah Haying!


NB: Post first written in November 2017, ticket prices fluctuate.


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