New Orleans Mardi Gras Travel Deals
January 19th, 2011
You don’t have to be Catholic or even really understand the religious background of Mardi Gras to enjoy the party. In fact, it may help if you don’t know about the religious background. But either way, there is plenty to love about the famous Mardi Gras celebrations that take place in New Orleans every year – and plenty of people flock to the city to see the festivities first hand.
Because the crowds are so substantial for Mardi Gras in New Orleans, it definitely pays to do your homework when it comes to finding cheap airfare and saving money on your accommodation. The holiday itself is something of a moveable feast, since it relates to a religious holiday that isn’t always on the same day, but it’s always around the same time of year (and, if you’re in a counting mood, it’s always 47 days before Easter). This does make it a bit easier to plan your trip.
In this article, we’re going to give you some tips to finding travel deals for Mardi Gras in New Orleans, including how to find cheap airfare to New Orleans for the Mardi Gras party and some general tips about celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
>> New Orleans Mardi Gras is on February 21, 2012.
How to Find Cheap Airfare for New Orleans Mardi Gras
Some of the tips for finding cheap airfare for Mardi Gras in New Orleans are the same ones you’ll hear about finding cheap airfare to any major event. Still, they bear repeating, for those who are less experienced travelers or who have never been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans before. Here are the best ways to get a cheap flight to New Orleans Mardi Gras.
- Fly Budget Airlines to New Orleans – There are so many big airlines covering the United States that it can be easy to forget about the smaller (and often cheaper) options. Luckily, there are some U.S. budget airlines serving New Orleans’ main airport, Louis Armstrong International. Look for flights on Southwest Airlines, US Airways, AirTran Airways, jetBlue Airways, and Frontier Airlines – these carriers may not have the extensive reach of bigger airlines, but their low prices might just be music to your ears.
- Be Flexible With Travel Plans – Remaining flexible is one of the mantras of the budget traveler, with good reason. The more rigid your travel plans, the less likely you’re able to take advantage of a good deal. In this case, look at different days and times to fly and you might save big. Many booking websites will do the work for you by letting you check a box that says “my dates are flexible” or something to that effect. If not, you’ll have to do it manually.
- Fly at Cheaper Times & Days – This one is along the lines of being flexible, but by knowing which days of the week and times of the day are generally cheaper you can save yourself the time it might take to choose different days and times seemingly at random. Wednesdays are usually cheapest to fly, followed by Tuesdays and Saturdays, and the cheapest times to fly are the very early morning flights.
- Check Alternate Airports – This tip is more useful in some cities than in others, and in New Orleans it may not save you much money. But if you’re a real bargain hunter, it never hurts to check. Biloxi Airport is roughly 75 miles from New Orleans and served by Allegiant Air, Delta Air Lines, & US Airways (among others). Baton Rouge Airport is roughly 73 miles from New Orleans and served by American Eagle, Continental Express, and Delta Connection. Lafayette Airport is roughly 120 miles from New Orleans and served by American Eagle, Continental Express, and Delta Connection.
Finding Cheap Accommodation for New Orleans Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras 2010 begins on February 16th, so it’s definitely not too early to be making your travel plans. People plan visits to New Orleans for Mardi Gras months in advance (if not years in advance), so even now you might find that the best cheap options for accommodation are already booked. In fact, you may find that the best deals are on hotels outside New Orleans entirely – places in the suburbs benefit from the huge influx of people, too.
Additionally, don’t be surprised if hotels and other accommodation options raise their prices over Mardi Gras – they’d be foolish not to, really – or say that they won’t book a room unless you agree to stay for a certain number of nights.
If you’re too late to find a great deal on a hotel right in New Orleans and you don’t want to stay in the suburbs, consider renting an apartment for the duration of your trip. This is especially handy if you’re traveling with a group or if you’ve got kids along for the trip. It’s a money-saver when you’re splitting the cost among several people and making some of your own meals in your kitchen, and it’s a convenience for traveling parents to have all the comforts of home.
New Orleans Mardi Gras Travel Tips
Beyond finding cheap airfare and learning how to save money on your trip, here are a few things that are important to know if you’re going to have a good time at Mardi Gras in New Orleans – and if you’re going to avoid making a social blunder, too.
- Get the Parade Schedule – Since this is the main attraction for most visitors to Mardi Gras, it’s important to get the parade schedule as soon as possible so you can plan your itinerary. Also keep in mind that some parades aren’t on the schedule, as they’re semi-secretive, but if you ask around you might get some insider tips on when they are and where to find them.
- Dress Appropriately – The weather at this time of year can vary greatly in New Orleans, so be sure to check a current forecast to know how to pack. Once on the ground, get into the spirit by dressing up in a mask or other Mardi Gras costume. And although public nudity might be de rigeur now on Bourbon Street, don’t go flashing anything elsewhere in the city, where residents think of Mardi Gras as more of a family-friendly holiday.
- Use Public Transportation – With all the crowds in the city for Mardi Gras, if you’re driving around you’ll quickly realize what a headache that can be. And besides, you can’t be indulging in many fun Mardi Gras drinks if you’re supposed to be driving, right? Save yourself some headaches and get familiar with New Orleans public transport.
- Stay Safe – Huge crowds and lots of alcohol are practically an ideal combination if you’re a petty thief. There are lots of police around during the celebrations, but that doesn’t mean you should let your guard down. Be a smart traveler and you’re more likely to avoid getting your pocket picked.
photo by Tulane Public Relations