Dude, Where’s My Wallet? The Top 5 Tips to Staying Safe on Spring Break
Spring Break is often viewed by college students as a rite of passage; crazy pranks, parties and lots of fun. But far too many students are falling victim to theft, assault, or worse while on vacation. Criminals know that college students can be easy targets, especially when traveling in a foreign country or to an unfamiliar city. It’s important that anyone considering a trip to Mexico or abroad educate themselves on the laws and customs before heading out on a trip. Knowing what to expect while you are away is just the first step in protecting yourself. To avoid having your dream vacation turn into a nightmare, follow these smart tips:
1. Sign-up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. This free program is run by the U.S. Department of State and will assist U.S. citizens traveling abroad should they need emergency assistance, including legal, medical and financial help.
2. Update your passport and complete (or update) the emergency contact information on file. What would happen if you were injured and unconscious while traveling on Spring Break? Would your friends know who to call? Not likely. Be sure you have your parent’s information or another relative listed in your travel papers, just in case.
3. Leave copies of your trip agenda/itinerary with friends and relatives. You do not have to include your minute-to-minute plans, but times and dates for departures, destination city/hotel and anticipated return dates should be included. This way, if you do not return on time and something has gone wrong, your family will know how to contact you or your hotel.
4. Avoid excessive alcohol. We know that some students head to other countries because of fewer restrictions on drinking, but be careful about over-consumption. When you are inebriated, your guard is down and you become an easier target for crime. You may also be more susceptible to trying risky activities or be more easily persuaded to do something out of character. Be alert and don’t do something you may regret later.
5. Don’t be a target for crime. Stay in large groups and never travel alone. Don’t wander off with anyone unfamiliar and never leave your drink or food unattended. Also, avoid wearing flashy or expensive jewelry, and don’t carry large amounts of cash with you.
Spring Break is a criminal’s paradise, but you don’t have to be a victim. Travel with a group of trusted friends and have an action plan in place. Know how to contact the U.S. consulate or authorities in the area, should a problem arise, and don’t wander off the beaten path. With a little planning, you’ll stay safe and have the time of your life!