With a purse that weighs an estimated 37 lbs and a packing process that takes longer than the actual trip, it’s safe to say I’m not an expert on packing. I wind up forcing the last remaining bits of my medicine cabinet to various zippered side pockets, loading up beach totes with 6 more pairs of shoes “just in case,” and bring along enough outfits to carry any small village from day to night. In fact, I vehemently deny any man the chance to chivalrously carry my bags out of straight-up shame of how much stuff I tote along with me. So you can imagine my utter fascination last Festival when I watched Caitlin (of EcoCajun and recent Acadiana Lifestyle fame) pull out a small chair from a perfectly curated “festival bag.” My curiosity got the best of me and I asked what else she had brought along – sunscreen, a cloth napkin, a Kleen Kanteen, and more. Not only was it a bag she could carry without risking permanent damage to her lumbar system, but everything she brought along had a useful purpose. Gasp! Shock! Amazement!
When I realized Mardi Gras was fast approaching and I’d be out on the parade route for hours at a time, I knew I need to go to the expert for help. I asked Caitlin to put together her ultimate Mardi Gras Parade Route Survival Bag for y’all. Well…. Mainly for me. But you can read too…
Mardi Gras in south Louisiana is a marathon, not a sprint. The better prepared you are, the more you can do Mardi Gras the eco-friendly way.
Think about it…chances are, when you’re out and about, and you’ve forgotten something you need, you probably just stop somewhere and pick up a disposable replacement. Or you generally leave the house empty-handed and have to buy whatever you need while you’re out.
Well, that’s not very green!
Now mais, pack you a survival bag and be an Mardi Gras expert. You’ll put the KING in king cake.
What do you need to survive Mardi Gras (and be sustainable to boot)?
Local beer in cans
Not only is it dangerous to have glass out on the street, in many places, it’s illegal. Keep your glass bottles at home and stick to cans. I mean really, do YOU want to walk amongst broken beer bottles along the parade route? I didn’t think so.
Daiquiri in a reusable mug
Daiquiris are pretty synonymous with Mardi Gras. Especially when the drive thrus open at like 7am on Mardi Gras day. But Lord, is that ever a waste of styrofoam. Bring your own Insulated container – they do very well at keeping your icy drinks cold. And most bars will oblige with filling your reusable container if you request. And tip.
Keep ya hands from freezing. Or keep ya beer cold. Who knows what the weather will be like? (Some past Mardi Gras-es, I’ve worn short sleeves, and last year, I had on three sweaters and a rain jacket and tights under my jeans and wool socks.)
Cause let’s face it, it’s probably gon’ rain.
Cloth bag for all your parade catches
Leave your plastic grocery bags at home. They just won’t stand up to the weight of all your Mardi Gras beads. Grab one (or four) of your tuff cloth shopping bags to hold all those prized beads.
Portable backup cell phone battery
My last phone had this habit of starting to die within hours of being fully charged. It was a pain in the ass. But what saved me (particularly on one trip to Boston) was a portable backup cell battery. They aren’t large and come with a short cable that connects to your phone. When you start to run low on juice, plug in your backup battery and enjoy another hour or so. Now you can continue to work on that perfect artsy float Instagram shot.
The official Lafayette Mardi Gras app
For the past few years, the Mardi Gras association has provided a free smartphone app that lists the fair schedule, parade schedule, parade map and float GPS tracking. It’s amazing. Now you can know how much time you have until the parade reaches your favorite spot.
A small towel
In case of spills or wet surfaces, keep a towel with you so you don’t have to use disposable wipes or paper napkins.
Mardi Gras ain’t the cleanest. If you’re picking beads up off the street (we won’t judge your catching skills), you’re going to want to clean off your hands.
Especially if you plan to be out for more than one parade at a time, you may want to bring a portable seat so you don’t have to sit on the street. (Hey, that rhymed!) Smaller seats are easier to lug around than those ones that come with footrests and awnings.
What kind of bag you choose to pack is up to you. Leave the designer bags at home and grab something durable. Don’t take the chance of having your bag scratched or spilled on.
Backpacks tend to hold a lot more and are more comfortable to wear. Especially if you ride your bike to the parade, which I highly recommend. Forget worrying about parking! Ride ya bike, save on gas and park right next to where you’ll be standing. Just be careful, because you can get an OWI on a bike too.
The basic point to remember when packing your Mardi Gras survival bag is to go as reusable as you can and so you only have minimal waste. You won’t be tempted to litter on the street, and you’ll have everything you need to les bon temps rouler!