It’s that time of year again… can you believe it? It seems like the semester just started! Whichever place you decide to go for spring break, be sure to take care of the following before you say goodbye to the roommates and rush out the door!
Whether you’re heading to a tropical island with friends or going home to visit your parents, make sure several different people know where you are and how they can reach you. Include travel dates and times, airline and flight numbers, and hotel or home phone numbers. Give copies to your roommates, suitemates, or hall mates; your RA; a friend that you don’t live with; and your parents or other relatives.
If you’re traveling overseas, register online with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, or STEP, a free program from the U.S. government. You can enter details about your trip so the Department of State can assist you better in case of emergencies or difficulties you may encounter while traveling.
If your flight leaves two days before spring break officially begins and you have to miss a few of your classes, let your instructors know that you’ll be absent! Far too many students assume that no one will show up anyway and that the professors won’t care. It might sound cruel, but there’s a chance that an unannounced quiz or last-minute assignment will be made. Email, call, or tell your professor in person that you’ll be out—the sooner, the better.
Break out your course syllabuses and make note of all upcoming due dates and exam dates. Are midterms before or after spring break? Determine what you need to finish now and what can wait.
If a paper or project is due as soon as classes resume and you haven’t even started on it yet, do yourself a favor and get moving. If you’re like most students, the chance that you’ll actually work on homework while you’re on vacation is a slim one, even if you have the best of intentions.
Coming back to reality after a relaxing vacation is never easy, but it can quickly turn into a nightmare if your documents, spreadsheets, pictures, music, and everything else on your computer is lost. Use an external hard drive or back up in the cloud—or both. If you have a ton of photos on your phone or tablet, back them up, too.
Speaking of things that have a tendency to disappear, don’t leave your laptop, iPad, Kindle, jewelry, cash, or anything else that is incredibly valuable in your dorm room while you’re out of town. Even if you’d trust your roommate with your life, there’s always a possibility that he/she will forget to lock the door or someone else will break in. If you must leave things behind, keep them in a safe or lockable trunk—preferably one that’s hidden inside your closet. Alternatively, lock your valuables in the trunk of your car if it will be parked in a well-lit, patrolled garage or lot on campus.
It may not be a wise decision to leave your pricy electronics or designer purses in your dorm room, but taking them to a crowded resort crawling with hundreds or thousands of college students from around the world is an even worse idea. Things may go missing, especially if alcohol impairs people’s judgment. Instead of cramming things into your suitcase, make a detailed packing list and include a copy in your bags or on your phone. This will help you know exactly what you brought with you. Resist the urge to over pack, or you could wind up paying extra luggage fees for going over the weight limit!
One more reminder—make an honest effort to “check in” with friends or family during your trip. Update your Facebook status (just watch the risqué photos, especially if your parents can see them!) or give your family or roommates a call every couple of days so they know that you’re okay.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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