if you're attending ESSENCE FEST
(or any festival really)

This week women everywhere left behind their cares and worries to head to New Orleans for Essence Festival.  While I have been one of these women in the past, I decided to stay home this Summer as it's my last full Summer at home with my kids.  You read that right... I'm heading back to work this Fall!  So my priority was spending as much time with my family as possible vs attending Essence Fest for a 3rd year in a row.  I have considered the whole '3rd times a charm' adage + what that may have meant for me but I also considered how much my kids will appreciate this time when they look back.  Anyways, back to why I'm here writing this blog post to begin with!  For those of you who are headed to Essence Fest (or later this month, Curl Fest), I have a few good tips that you will thank me for later.

1. To Stay in the City or Not...
This tip may be a little late because I know anyone attending Essence Fest probably reserved their room months ago.  I've stayed on the perimeter of the city (Metairie) as well as in the middle of everything (Royal Sonesta on Bourbon St.) before.  I highly suggest that you stay in the middle of everything BUT grab a courtyard view room.  It may seem great to be a part of the fun throwing beads down with a street view room but what's not fun is trying to go to sleep when there's a band playing outside your window.  They say New York is the city that never sleeps + that may be true but it doesn't hold a candle to the parades you will find going down Bourbon Street at 2AM!  Grab a courtyard view and you won't even know what's going on outside most of the time but you can easily leave your room + go join the fun if you want.

2.  Uber/Lyft
Unless you're driving around New Orleans yourself (which I don't recommend), you will likely be using Uber or Lyft to get around.  Guess what?  So will everyone else!  So when your Uber driver is trying to find you + all you can tell them is that you're the cute black girl on the corner in a sundress... girl, your frustration will begin to kick in faster than the Louisiana heat does every morning.  TIP: keep a solid bright scarf with you at all times.  When your Uber driver calls you to see where you are, you'll be able to wave your bright orange scarf in the air to direct him towards you.  Now, it still may take them 15 minutes to drive a block because of the crowds but it beats them passing you + having to go all the way around the block again.  Nobody has time for that when you're practically melting!

3.  Cash is King
This one is easy!  Always carry enough cash on you to feed yourself + a friend (there's always somebody who only has their card) but not enough to get robbed.  Don't be walking the streets at 2AM with a bankroll of cash because that, my dear, is not safe at all.  Keep $100 in cash on yourself at all times.  Yes, everyone takes cards these days but machines go down all the time and sometimes the line for cash payers is MUCH shorter than the one for card payers (because everyone is using their card to pay).  Lastly, the street artists are amazing and you will find yourself wanting to leave a tip for just about all of them after they put on their concert!  Yes, it does feel like a concert because they are THAT good.  So, having a little cash on you for this will come in handy as well.

Miss Julee

Creator of @ChicBusyMoms
4. Be Persistent + Network
For the Influencers/Bloggers, this tip is for you!  Hopefully before you traveled to New Orleans, you made a game plan for the events to attend.  Occasionally, your point of contact may become busy + unavailable to you especially if the festival is underway.  Reaching them during the festival may not seem possible but I implore you to not give up.  If you want to be in the room, go anyways.  There is a HIGH chance that the contact who was suppose to get you in will be a gatekeeper.  I'm not a fan of name dropping but if you're going to do it, do it when you're trying to get into an event that you were suppose to be at.  Whoever is checking names, likely knows your point of contact and can easily confirm.  Now, this does NOT work if your name was never suppose to be on the list.  In that case, abort mission and go home!  But don't come all the way to New Orleans + give up because people are too busy to take your call or return your text.  It's pretty likely that they're not doing it on purpose so BE PERSISTENT.

Mom lived her best life as you can see! LOL
5.  Find the Balance: Social Media vs IRL
My first year in New Orleans, I failed miserably with this one.  I wanted to capture EVERYTHING, and my girl Amber who I went with wanted ALL the pictures.  Every 2 seconds, we saw a wall or backdrop that we wanted a picture in front of.  If I'm not mistaken, we even bickered a few times because I was over it after a while and the heat was something I had never experienced.  Here's something to keep in mind... be intentional about the content you're trying to grab!  You're not going to post 987 pictures, nor will you need that many for a blog post so don't waste your time trying to grab ALL the images.  At the most, you MIGHT use 10 of those pictures and that's including #throwback content.  I know it's tempting to take a picture in front of all those pretty walls but you will drive yourself crazy... and your friends who have to take the picture.  Instagram Stories is even bigger now than it was then + while you may want to share your every second with your audience, it will take away from YOUR experience if you're not careful.  What worked really well for me was capturing the video content for Instagram Stories/Snapchat and then editing later.  We all know that bulk of the time we spend Insta-Storying is editing + adding captions so try and do that later.  I found using the time in the Uber going from place to place or while waiting in line at a restaurant was the perfect time.  This way while you are in the moment/at the event, you aren't sitting down in a corner trying to put finishing touches on Instagram Stories.

I can't wait to see everyone's point of view from Essence Fest this year while I'm back home.  No FOMO here because I'm still very grateful for the opportunity I have with my family but I will definitely be tuned in!  If you can think of any more tips to share, definitely leave them below.  Whether it's Essence Fest or another Festival, I'm sure they will still be applicable.