With the advancing calendar, spring is right around the corner. With that comes the decision about what to do for Spring Break – go home, look for a summer job, or with the new-found freedom of college take the first college spring break trip.
There are more than enough tales of famous and infamous spring break experiences, some of which you may be able to recite yourself. We even have access to television shows documenting the escapades of raucous students tossing logic, good sense, and sometimes their very selves to the wind for a few days of “letting off some steam” to cope with the demands and pressure of the daily grind.
Surveys of current college students tell us that more than 60% will choose to take some type of trip over spring break. Due to the advent of Alternative Spring Break options, students have a lot more choices about how to spend/invest this week, but there will always be students choosing to cut loose.
Having hosted Spring Break trips for more than 20 years, I know that there is due diligence necessary to maximize the experience and minimize the risk. Whether your student is headed to work in an orphanage in Guatemala, or help roof a house in Appalachia, or throw caution to the wind on the beaches of Cozumel, Mexico, it is vital that a few things are in place on her/his end and on yours. These aren’t a guarantee of anything beyond preparedness and a sense of peace of mind, but both of these go a long way toward a trip worth remembering for all the right reasons.
Spring Break Success measures: (calling these “Survival tips” just isn’t what we’re going for!) The goal of a Spring Break trip is to have an engaging, safe, and memorable experience.
- Always have at least 1 other person with you wherever you go. Never venture out alone…EVER!
- Keep a duplicate copy of all your important travel documents in a safe place (passport, visa – if necessary, driver’s license, plane tickets)
- Divide your money into a couple of safe places. Only carry with you as much as you might need for what you’re going to do (shopping, eating, sight-seeing). Another way to think about it is, only carry as much as you can afford to lose.
- Create a list of emergency contacts for everyone in your group to have access to in case one of you is not able to communicate.
- If you plan to use awareness-altering substances consider setting up a buddy system ahead of time (like a designated driver). You can alternate this in your group, leaving at least one of you able to make logical choices.
- If you’re traveling outside the US, consider the following:
- Read back news stories of the country & region you’re traveling to so you’ll know what kind of cultural and political climate you’re headed to.
- Check the “Students Abroad” section of the US State Department web site – it will provide some basic information on political/travel advisories, immunization/disease issues, and places you should avoid.
- Consider Travel Insurance – here is a link to a company targeting this very kind of college-aged student travel: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/01/prweb12483053.htm