Students across the country are eagerly anticipating spring break, that mid-semester vacation famous for unwinding from the stress of college classes and taking party-hearty vacations. Whether your spring break plans include a quick road trip with friends or a lengthy flight to an exotic locale, take precautionary measures to help ensure your safety and well-being.
Going off to college is a major milestone for many young adults as well as their parents. Along with that exciting newfound freedom comes newfound responsibilities, which can take some getting used to for both parties. If you decide to go out of town – or out of the country – for your college spring break, that parental concern will become even more prominent.
Make things easier on Mom and Dad and make things safer for yourself by doing the following:
1. Obtain a passport and get necessary vaccinations if you are traveling abroad. If you will be visiting another country, make sure you have a valid passport and any necessary vaccinations ahead of time. You won’t be very happy if purchase travel tickets and book a hotel room only to learn you won’t be able to go.
2. Look into travel medical insurance, if necessary. Does your health insurance cover routine medical expenses or emergency care that occurs in other states or other countries? Not sure? Find out, especially if you plan on playing sports or participating in other activities that are potentially risky, such as hiking or scuba diving. Travel insurance might be necessary.
3. Go on vacation with good friends that you trust. Thanks to the fact that they generally live in such close proximity to one another, college students have a tendency to hang out with friends of friends and other people they do not know incredibly well. If you’re taking a spring break trip this year, make sure you’ll be traveling with good friends that you know and trust, rather than casual acquaintances who could potentially abandon you in a strange place.
4. Give copies of your travel itinerary to several people who won’t be with you. Tell your parents, friends, relatives, or roommates exactly where you are going and when you will be back. Provide them with copies of your travel dates, flight and lodging information, hotel phone numbers, and other important information. You can easily email this information to several people at once.
5. Pack first aid supplies and over the counter medications in your luggage. Keep a travel-sized first aid kit in your suitcase and pack common OTC medicines like pain relievers and anti-diarrhea medication.
6. Always keep your identification with you. Carry at least two forms of ID with you at all times. Keep additional photocopies of your ID secure in your hotel room, and leave copies at home with your parents or someone trustworthy.
7. Limit your alcohol consumption. If you’re going to drink, as most students do during spring break, pay attention to how much beer or liquor you consume and where it comes from. Bottled beverages are your safest bet, but only if you remove the bottle caps yourself. As you already know, alcohol can impair your decision-making abilities. Drinking in the sun can cause you to become dehydrated very quickly, even if you don’t feel thirsty, which can have severe consequences such as heat stroke and even death.
8. Pay attention to what you eat and drink. In addition to alcohol, pay attention to the other drinks and foods that you consume. If you are in another country, there’s a good chance you could come down with traveler’s diarrhea, the most common illness that affects people on vacation.
9. Wear sunscreen. If you’re lounging at the pool or on the beach – or outdoors for any other reason – don’t forget to apply sunscreen regularly! A blistering sunburn can turn any fun vacation into an incredibly painful one.
10. Think twice before doing anything “unusual.” Many students want to have the adventure of a lifetime during their college spring break. Before you agree to do anything out of the ordinary, even if it seems safe, think twice. Licensing and regulations may be different in other countries. Is that parasailing company or chartered boat captain a safe, established business?
11. Keep your purse or bag and cell phone with you at all times. Be sure to keep your eyes on your belongings. Losing your purse or backpack can wreak havoc on your entire trip, especially if you’re unable to show an official ID to get onto your flight home! Your cell phone most likely contains just as much info as your wallet, in addition to your personal photos and email account.
12. Do not carry all of your money with you; leave some in your hotel room safe. If you have several credit cards, do not bring them all on your vacation. Choose one that you plan to use during your trip, and leave the rest at home in a safe place. Inform the credit card company that you will be traveling, so charges made in other cities or countries do not get declined because they appear suspicious. Carrying all of your cash in one place is not recommended, either. If it is lost or stolen, you will be out of luck. Instead, distribute it among several envelopes. Keep one with you, one in the hotel safe, and one in your suitcase.
13. Do not access your bank accounts or other personal websites from public computers. Hotels often have computers for customer usage, and Wi-Fi is often available in public places. Never access sites that could give identify thieves access to you passwords that give access to personal information or financial accounts.
14. Don’t go anywhere alone. You wouldn’t walk across campus by yourself after dark, would you? Don’t make that mistake on spring break, either. The thought of getting lost in unfamiliar surroundings is scary enough, but a potential criminal would have a better chance abducting or assaulting one person rather than a large group of people. Drunken students are easy targets.
15. Use your common sense! Above all, use your common sense! You’re in college because you had the grades and motivation to be accepted. Use those skills while you’re out of town, and stay safe!
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.
Have something to say? Feel free to add comments or additional information.