It’s Mardi Gras! If you’ve ever been to the Big Easy, you know the next few days are dedicated to beads and booze. Fun, colorful, lively: Mardi Gras is an experience topping many bucket lists. And rightly so: it’s unforgettable. That’s no excuse, though, to drop all sense of, well, sense. The streets are crowded and rowdy, and though inebriation is the name of the game, it’s as important as ever to be mindful of your surrounding. Here are some of our top tips for navigating Bourbon Street:
1. The Buddy System is your best friend. Bring along your favorite wingwoman. Watch each other’s back. Have fun, make memories. Repeat.
2. Cooperate with the police. They’re there to keep you safe. Whether it’s breaking up fights or locking up the extra pervy guys, the cops are not there to harsh anyone’s good time by making sure no one gets hurt.
3. Pace yourself. You want to enjoy all that Mardi Gras has to offer, so don’t hit the bottle hard your first night, only to nurse a splitting headache the next day. Otherwise, you’ll miss out on the magic (beignets!).
4. Watch what you carry. You don’t need a carry-on bag as you walk through the French Quarter. Leave your purse or backpack wherever you’re staying. All you need is your ID and some cash, stashed in your pockets. If you want to keep what you catch, feel free to bring a tote. Just don’t burden yourself. Don’t forget your keys!
5. Stay off quiet, secluded streets at night. This goes without saying: You may not like crowds but always remain aware of your surroundings. Stick to the French Quarter or Bourbon street at night.
6. Dress up! It’s Mardi Gras! Let your hair down, wear a wig, throw on some color! Make sure to keep the costume fairly minimal (no props, if you can help it), so you won’t be that obnoxious parade goer with the staff knocking people over.
7. Mardi Gras is a party, but that doesn’t mean you should be a frat boy. Open consumption of beer is allowed in cans or cups but bottles are prohibited, for obvious reasons. Watch your liquor intake. New Orleans and Mardi Gras is for both tourists and locals, so respect those boundaries.
8. Bring wet wipes or Purell. You’ll be throwing and catching beads, spilling liquids, touching strangers… It’d be wise to bring along some antibacterial products before you eat. It’s always nice feeling fresh.
9. Designate a meeting place if you get separated. Carry your hotel address with you, or pick a neighborhood food joint to meet if you’re ever split up from your friends.
10. Take it easy! They don’t call it the Big Easy for nothing. Take in the sights, sounds and smells of the countless parades and characters. There’s more to Mardi Gras than being a dedicated beer fest; according to some New Orleans natives, flashing is not a tradition. Don’t feel pressure, just have fun. That’s what you’re there for anyway, right?