Here we go, it's Mardi Gras time! In the coming days, we'll be thinking how sorry we feel for the rest of the country because they don't get to Mardi Gras. Food, family, friends, floats and plenty of cold drinks will be everywhere you turn. However, for just about anyone from Louisiana, we've all got at least one Mardi Gras horror story. If this will be your first Mardi Gras, or if you just need a refresher course like I do, below are a handful of survival tips to help you have the best Mardi Gras ever.

1) Food - Food is one of your strongest allies in your fight to not wake up Wednesday morning in someone's backyard along the parade route. Make sure you eat a good breakfast. Eggs are a good start because they do a great job of lining your stomach for all the booze to come. Don't just eat breakfast though, make sure to eat things throughout the day in between parades. Think of it like building a good roux. If you can, having a hot pot of crawfish at the end of the day can be your icing on the King Cake.

2) Water - Yes, technically there's water in beer, but you need bottles of it without the hops and barely. If you drink a bottle of water every three or four beers, it will help to keep you good and hydrated so you don't feel like your head is the softball in a slow-pitch company game the next morning. The only downside to Mardi Gras hydration is, well, having a legal place to get rid of it.

3) Pedialyte - Yes, Pedialyte. Find it in the baby care isle of Albertson's on the parade route. You can replace some of the water you need to drink with this stuff. Do not put Vodka in it...seriously. Kid Rock tipped me off to the hangover fighting wonders of Pedialyte years ago, and do really think he doesn't know what he's talking about?

4) Shoes - In war, the most vital part of anything a soldier has is their boots and an extra pair of dry socks. There's a reason why. Think about what sort of shoes you'll be wearing and adorn accordingly. No sandals or open toe shoes. I repeat, no sandals or open toe shoes. You'll be pretty much in constant motion for probably eight hours with no way change your shoes when your feet begin to fall off. If you wear open toe shoes, prepare to have most of your toes stepped on repeatedly all day long and need crutches the next day at work.

5) Beware Of Hurricanes - Hurricanes are a Mardi Gras staple, and by all means, get you one...just not six...and not before noon. They pack a punch and can set your entire day traveling down a path of "OMG everyone knows I'm completely wasted" paranoia. The most dangerous part of the drink isn't really the alcohol, but the sugar. The sugar is a huge part of making you the Mayor of Hangoverville. If you start drinking those too early, you'll win that election by the time the parades even start. I like to have one before the last two parades. The sugar can be a nice pick-me-up.

6) Have A Meeting Spot - Before you and your crew hit the parades, have a "If everything fails let's meet at this place at this time" plan. Cell service gets sketchy during Mardi Gras due to so many people using theirs. Just succumb to the fact that when you get separated from your group, you probably won't be able call or text them. Pick a place and time beforehand to meet up if you get separated. For parents, I like to always pick a spot by police so just in case something happens, my kids can go to an officer. Not that I've ever lost my kids at Mardi Gras...for very long.

7) Wet Wipes Or Hand Sanitizer - Having a zip-lock of wet wipes in your purse or back pocket can be a beacon of sanity in an un-sane world. You'll likely be hard pressed to find a place where you can get your hands clean when you need to. After a few hours of catching beads, trust me, your hands are going to smell like an old shoe.

8) Don't Pee In Public - Just don't do this. It's illegal, and gross. I, my kids, nor anyone I know want to walk in your pee. Thanks a bunch.

9) Cheap Sunglasses - Have you ever gotten sunburn on your eyes? Not fun. Have you ever been hit in the eyes by a bead flying at you at 20mph? Again, not fun. Take the advise of ZZ Top, and get yourself a pair of cheap sunglasses. They're a nice shield from the sun and from the beads. Make sure they're cheap, because you're going to lose or break them.

10) Be Noticeable - If you want to catch the most beads, you've got to make sure the folks on the floats notice you. One year I was at the parades with my son who was about 6 at the time. He was getting bent out of shape because he wasn't catching any beads. Luckily at that time, we lived a couple of blocks from the parade route, so I went home and got his Darth Vader helmet/mask. The minute he put it on, the beads started flowing. I mean, who doesn't want to throw beads to Darth Vader? I've found Ragin Cajun props work very well too. Be creative, and do not go the "It's my first Mardi Gras" sign route.

These are all great and all, but the number one tip to the best Mardi Gras ever is, just be safe. Make sure you've got a plan to get home safely! You'll enjoy yourself way more when you know you, and everyone around you will be safe on your way home.

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