Partying to your heart's content is great, but you must get there
first! Traveling to Mardi Gras is no different than traveling to any other big event
except that Mardi Gras probably has more attendees - meaning more highway traffic and more
crowding in the airport and rail terminal. In this section of the
site, I'll give you some useful travel tips and information that will hopefully
make your trip there and back "hassle-free."
far in advance should I make my travel reservations?
I recommend that you make
them at the same time you make your hotel reservations; hence, make them as far in advance
as possible. If you plan to attend the next year's Mardi Gras and want to stay right in
the middle of the action, make your travel and hotel reservations within ONE MONTH of your
return from this year's Mardi Gras. Many people use this approach, and hotels in the
French Quarter become filled up surprisingly fast.
If you like the hotel you're staying in this year, and have
the money for a down-payment, I would recommend that you make hotel reservations for
next year at the time you check out of the hotel this year.
there be available transportation?
Transportation, yes; available, maybe.
Carnival is a very busy time of year, and available cabs & shuttle busses are few and far
between. Allow yourself plenty of time to catch a cab or shuttle bus. Upon arriving
at the airport or rail terminal, I would recommend that you find some people who are going
to the same area you are and see if you can split the cab or shuttle fare with them.
You'll save money, and you'll be indoctrinated into the concept of being packed like a
sardine - better get used to it. Your hotel might offer shuttle service to/from the
airport, so make sure to check on it! If you came via train, the typical cab cost
for one person and two items of luggage between Union Terminal and the Quarter is about $6
US, including a tip.
What's the best way to make my reservations?
Use Mardi Gras Man's as your gateway! The links below represent companies we've
had good experiences with and fully endorse.
When is the best time to leave Mardi Gras (other than never)?
If possible, stay until AFTER Ash Wednesday (Wednesday after Fat Tuesday). Checkout
lines, taxis, airports, and rail terminals are EXTREMELY busy on Ash Wednesday because
most people leave then. Try leaving on Thursday or Friday - you might even get better room
What is the best mode of transportation to Mardi Gras?
That depends. Go with whatever your normal travel
preference is, but keep in mind that the interstates (especially 55 and 10), the airport,
and the rail terminal will be extra-busy during the Mardi Gras period. Give yourself
plenty of time to drive or to check through airports and rail terminals. If you're
traveling by car, make sure your AC works...it gets very hot in New Orleans, even in
February and March. Generally, I recommend against driving to Mardi Gras. This
is because the parade routes and the crowd congestion in the Quarter make it nearly
impossible to drive.
Here's a novel idea: Take a cruise! Cruises are
lots of fun, and a number of the major cruise lines serve New Orleans. Some cruises
originate in New Orleans, while other make New Orleans a port of call. Obviously,
you will need to be sure your ship is scheduled to be in New Orleans on Fat Tuesday.
Check with your travel agent for more information!
What is the "Party Train," and how do I
Amtrak's "City of New Orleans" train (the one
made famous by Arlo Guthrie's song) runs special, "Mardi Gras Party Runs" from
Chicago to New Orleans during the Mardi Gras period. You will enjoy a huge Mardi
Gras party from your boarding point all the way down to New Orleans. The "Party
Train" is well-decorated for the occasion, and some people even wear costumes. There
are contests, plenty of Cajun food, a live band, an extra lounge car, and enough alcohol
to float a battleship. This year's "Party Trains" will depart Chicago at 8PM on
March 3rd and 4th, and will arrive in New Orleans the following days
around 3PM. Mardi Gras Man will be
catching the March 3rd train in Memphis on the morning of the 4th. For more info on
the "Mardi Gras Party Train," visit the "City of New Orleans"
Web site (also run by yours truly).