I lived to tell the tale, and you can too. Here's what kept me sane, as well as a lil' synopsis of our time in the infamous New Orleans, Louisiana.
Tip 1: Work With The BrideYep, you want it to be a fun surprise, but there's a fine line between keeping things on the DL and adding an extra pile of stress to your planning plate. Talk out the big stuff: Invite list, to-do desires, and what kind of lodging she'd like. Bride Katy was amazing and actually chose our lodging - an incredible city-block-wide house with it's own pool - on her own. She also let me know that she wanted a few structured activities, but a lot of down time to wander around (and enjoy some pool-side lounging) too.
Tip 2: Read Reviews & Consider Various BudgetsNot everyone on the invite list can break the bank on one trip. And keep in mind too that 'breaking the bank' looks different for everyone. Katy landed our great house through VRBO - a website that offers homes that can be rented like hotel rooms - and each of us paid her what was due. I, on the other hand, used a lot of tourism websites as a jumping off place for my research. Because I'm the Maid of Honor, I decided to treat everyone to tickets for a French Quarter walking ghost tour. It wasn't an extravagant cost, and I felt like it was a nice gesture to make friends as I didn't know anyone going other than the bride. I chose the tour we took based on awesome reviews from New Orleans tourism sites, as well as awards the tour had received over the years.
Tip 3: Transportation Apps Are AwesomeWe used both public transportation options as well as taxi services on our trip, and never had a problem getting where we needed to go. These days, many city transportation authorities offer downloadable schedules or apps that update when there are changes in the system. We used it often for streetcar and bus schedules. Check to see if a multi-day public transportation pass is available too: We were able to pick up discounted three day streetcar/bus passes from a Walgreens drug store near our house.
Uber is a fantastic private car taxi service that functions easily from the Uber app, and we couldn't have gotten by without it. Download it and get to know it if you're headed for a populous city (it's not quite everywhere yet, but spreading fast). Cash-free and literally in the palm of your hand, it was a life-saver on several occasions.
|Happy Uber Campers!|
Tip 4: Pack Flat FavorsWhat's a party without a party favor? Air travel and packing goodies can be tough - especially if you're like me and are a carry-on only kind of gal. I decided to go for some useful fun: Each girl got a wedding-color-themed hair tie, a temporary bachelorette party themed tattoo, and a ring pop. I also packed goodies like fun drinking straws, funny napkins, and drink markers shaped like little men in speedos. A little planning ahead can get you everything you need - I utilized Etsy, a trip to Target's dollar section, and Francesca's Closet to round things out.
|Tattoos from here and hairties from here. Both awesome sellers!|
|These guys became our mascots and had all kinds of adventures.|
Tip 5: Be Organized AND FlexibleIt's a tough balance between the two, but you gotta create a plan and then roll with the punches as it all unfolds. I was a spreadsheet maniac prior to our outbound flight, keeping track of who had paid for what, when I needed to send reminders, and lists of locations and restaurants we may want to hit. A lot of the things on our list happened, but keeping the schedule open with lots of options to choose from was a winner with a large group of personalities. All of us managed to do pretty much everything we wanted to, due in large part to knowing our options. Having a list of restaurants around where we were staying was so handy, and knowing about various activities (shopping districts, historic locations, etc.) allowed us to never have to spend a lot of time wondering what to do next.
|Local cuisine is a must-try.|
|Some Bourbon Street-area architecture.|
|Lafayette Cemetery - All New Orleans cemeteries are above ground crypts. |
It's a fascinating and beautiful walk through.