Spring Break Safety Tips for College Students
In the next few weeks, college students around the country will head out on Spring Break; some will journey to the sunny beaches of Florida and the Gulf Coast, but many will travel out of the country. The promise of wild nights and unlimited sunshine has always made places like Mexico and the Caribbean favorite destinations for many students. What makes these locations enticing are the endless advertisements from student travel services and other agencies that promise students the ‘trip of a lifetime’ at an unbelievable price. Although many of these getaways do live up to the hype, students should be cautious when booking their Spring Break trips. It’s a good idea for students to check the Better Business Bureau for any complaints from former customers and also compare prices against those of other services. Students may even find that they can get a better rate booking airfare, hotels and excursions directly, instead of a package rate. Once they have made their travel arrangements, students should also consider the follow guidelines for staying safe during their trip.
1. Carry the Proper Identification
Students who will be traveling outside of the United States should check to see what identification is required. Those traveling on a cruise ship (leaving from a U.S. port and returning to a U.S. port) need only bring a valid driver’s license and a birth certificate. Students who will be traveling by air, however, will need a valid passport and/or visa. Keep in mind that it takes up to 10 weeks to process the paperwork for a first-time visa, but students can pay an additional $60 fee to expedite the process. If the passport is needed in less than two weeks, students must go to their closest passport agency and submit their application in person. It’s a good idea for students to register for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), just in case there’s an emergency while they are out of the country.
2. Never Travel Alone
Whether taking a horseback riding excursion or heading out for some dancing at the local clubs, students should always travel in pairs or small groups. It’s easier for criminals and other unsavory characters to harm students who venture out alone. Students who plan to spend time at the beach should be especially alert to strangers wandering near their belongings and always swim with a buddy. It’s not uncommon for rip currents to catch swimmers off-guard, and students should also be aware of any dangerous marine life in the area. Students should be sure that their friends do not wander off or leave with strangers, as well.
3. Protect Your Money
When heading out to the local bars or clubs, students should take small amounts of money and keep it in their bra (girls) or front pockets. Thieves are always on the lookout for students flashing large amounts of cash and can easily lift a wallet from a back pocket or open purse. It’s also important for students to be very careful when using credit cards, as it is all too easy for people to write down their card number and identification. Students should reserve the use of plastic for transactions where they can view the person handling the card. Another thing for students to consider is the use of automated teller machines (ATMs). It’s a good idea for students to travel in small groups when making a withdrawal, as strangers can easily walk up on students who are alone and demand their money.
4. Limit Alcohol Consumption
Spring Break is notorious for its wild, alcohol-induced parties. It would be unrealistic to think students would forgo alcohol completely during this rite of passage, but students should limit their consumption, especially in public areas. Alcohol has a tendency to reduce people’s inhibitions, which means students can become easy targets for predators and thieves. Students can reduce their chances of becoming a victim by staying with a group of friends and avoiding certain activities, like swimming, while intoxicated. Students should also never leave their drinks unattended, as it is all-too-easy for predators to slip something dangerous into their cups. Alcohol can also lead to promiscuous behavior, which may place students in the uncomfortable position of waking up with a stranger and going home with something other than a souvenir. Again, this is where traveling in pairs or small groups can save students from unwanted or unsolicited attention.
It’s a good idea for students to leave their trip itinerary and contact information with a friend or family member, especially if they are traveling outside of the United States. Students should also check with their phone carrier, making sure they have service and inquiring about roaming charges and other rates that may apply while they are away. By following these simple safety tips, students can head out on Spring Break knowing that they will return with a great tan and memories, instead of a horror story to share with their family and friends.