What is Halloween? 15 tips for first time travelers

Halloween is an integral part of every American child’s thirst for free candy, a time when nurses & cats become evil & we get to bring our dark sides to the surface. But many visitors from around the world are left asking: What is Halloween? and how to we celebrate it like the locals?

You may know Halloween as the fake-blood, trashy-nurse, outrageous-costume house party event that is depicted in the movies. While some of that is true, it’s more than that. In some parts of the world, people visit graveyards to pray and place flowers and candles on the graves of their loved ones – in North America, it’s more about the candy, beer & silly costumes. For travelers visiting from countries where Halloween is not celebrated, this holiday should definitely be on your North American bucket-list.


So, what is Halloween?

This beginners guide will cover the do’s, dont’s, must-do’s and more to make the most of your first Halloween!


  1. Find a good costume.

Does the idea of dressing up in a costume make you feel scared? Going out in something funny, stupid, outrageous or perhaps revealing can make you feel a bit vulnerable, but take comfort in the fact everyone else is doing it. You will actually feel more silly with a half-done boring outfit amongst a party full of epic costumes. It feels great when everyone marvels at your costume and praises your creativity. This night is the chance to be something or someone totally new – so embrace it!

Halloween costumes Mario Bros

You can be anything you’ve ever wanted – including Mario!!


  1. You are too old to trick-or-treat (but don’t worry there’s beer).

When you think of Halloween, you probably imagine trick or treating. We deeply apologize if trick-or-treating was not something you were able to experience as a child, but unfortunately you cannot do it now. Don’t get us wrong you will be able to get candy from a number of places but as for actual door-to-door trick-or-treating with a pillowcase, you are likely too old for that. All you would get is disapproving looks from parents. But don’t worry, now you can trade out candy for beer and that’s much better in our opinion!

Halloween trick or treat kids in costume


  1. But don’t be that guy.

Don’t let yourself get so carried away, that you have to be carried away before the end of the night. On Halloween people tend to go harder than a regular evening out. It’s a festive, fun and frisky night, so easy to get caught up in. You’re going to want to enjoy and remember you’re experience so don’t blow it by drinking too much. Nobody wants to see some guy dressed as Super Man puking in the street at 9:30pm.

drunk at halloween


  1. Make sure to take your costume/makeup off before bed.

If you go to sleep with a face full of makeup, fake blood or wounds, whiskers or any other disguises, chances are you will wake up with that face rubbed off onto your pillow and some seriously red eyes. Save yourself the trouble and get your drunk self to take 5 minutes to wash it off, sober you will thank you in the morning.

Best Halloween Make Up


  1. Super revealing costumes don’t actually look as good as you think.

This may be the most cliche part of Halloween. There is a thin line between tastefully sexy and totally trashy – even on Halloween. Many people take this opportunity to wear risque outfits they would never normally be caught dead in. To quote the iconic Mean Girls “Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.” By all means wear something that makes your feel fierce, but don’t go crazy. Try to shop for a costume that makes you feel good, rather than a costume with the least amount of material.

Halloween Cher


  1. Make sure you’re comfortable.

To continue on the topic of wearing tiny little costumes, you may want to consider your comfort levels. Halloween is in late October, and depending where you are, it’s likely to be cold at night. If your costume leaves little to the imagination, you’ll be freezing your butt off when the sun goes down. If your costume is huge and bulky or has a crazy mask, these simple things may be tough throughout the night. Don’t underestimate the ability to sit down or sip a drink. Keep your overall comfort in mind, because you may get over it and become a headless dinosaur.

Halloween Penguin


  1. Couples costumes have potential to be very cringey.

If planning a couples costume; proceed with caution! Some couples costumes are just so corny it hurts. Some examples are bacon and eggs, a key and lock, Miley Cyrus and and Robin Thicke, and the list goes on.



  1. Costumes can be done on a budget.

You may be shocked by the prices of Halloween costumes. Full costumes can range from $60-$120, which is a lot of money for a traveler on a budget. If you’re on a budget just make your own costume! Some of the best costumes are the ones that are homemade. Get crafty, get creative, and see what you can do. Check out the dollar store and thrift stores too!

Cheap Halloween Costume

This is about as cheap as you can get! ~ Photo: https://goo.gl/mHSWOj


  1. 50% off Halloween candy.

The day after Halloween, candy goes on sale for crazy cheap. You may not have been able to trick-or-treat, but you can still get the candy (as a hangover cure).

sugar candy

We wanna get high…. on a sugar high!


  1. Be original (AKA don’t be a cat).

There are some pretty cliche Halloween costumes out there that are bound to be done by at least one person at the party. Some of these include sexy police officer, nurse, and of course a cat. Think outside the box and try to come up with something creative and awesome!

Cat halloween

You could be a zombie cat! Or a ninja cat! or a rock star cat! But not a sexy cat.   ~ Photo: https://goo.gl/hP99K5


  1. Be prepared to hear Monster Mash and Thriller a million times…and dance like crazy every time.

What is Halloween all about if it’s not for silly dancing to these awesome tunes! By the end of the night you & your friends will know all the moves.

Thriller Halloween

Do your Halloween homework and learn the dance moves.                                             ~ Photo: https://goo.gl/OnLLxI


  1. You will have to pay cover fee’s wherever you go.

This is a huge night for the bars and clubs, so expect to pay a larger than normal cover fee to get in! Don’t worry it will be worth it – did we mention this is our favorite holiday in North America?!


Vancouver’s Granville Street is shut down on the weekend for the biggest party all year. ~~ Photo: https://goo.gl/SzIufA


  1. Carving Jack-O-Lanterns takes a lot more work than you’d expect.

Carving pumpkins is a fun Halloween activity, but may be more difficult than you think. You’ve got to completely gut it, design it and then carve it. It also takes some serious muscle and energy! Be sure to roast the pumpkin seeds and eat them!

pumpkin carving at halloween

Samesun hostels host pumpkin carving in the days leading up to Halloween so you can give it a try!


  1. Tip your bartender.

This goes without saying for any large event and is customary in the majority of North American bars. Halloween bar tenders are working during the best party of the year & carrying drinks through crowds of sharks, ninjas & aliens….. be good to them!

Hallooween Bartender Vancouver


  1. Have fun and be safe!

Overall Halloween is a super fun and festive holiday so be sure to enjoy it and be safe (and a little bit scary!)

Halloween Kids

Let your inner 10 year old come out to play!


Halloween Hostel Party, Samesun Backpackers

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