Top 5 Spring Break Destinations: Rewards and Risks

For many of us, Spring Break is right around the corner. We’re pushing through these last couple of days or weeks of assignments, meetings, and internships so that we can feel the wind in our hair and be free for an entire week.

Whether you’re still searching for a destination or just want to see if your Spring Break location made the cut for the top five, we’ve got the top 2013 Spring Break destination spots for you with all of the details. Check it out!

1. Cancun, Mexico

Cancun has a reputation as one of the top party locations for Spring Break, with cheap hotels, beautiful beaches, and great nightlife. Similar to some destinations in Europe, Cancun’s drinking age is only 18, which definitely attracts college students. Also, many Cancun hotels have all-inclusive options, which are ideal when looking for a relaxing vacation.

However, the high risks for going to Cancun for Spring Break need to be taken into consideration. Always buy bottled water and be careful of warning flags on beaches. Especially if you’re still under 21, be careful to avoid drinking too much while you’re in the hot sun. Dehydration and public drunkenness are two risks that could totally ruin your Spring Break if you’re not used to drinking in public or being in the heat while consuming alcohol. Remember, Mexico is outside of the U.S., so be aware of its different laws. If an emergency does occur during your time in Cancun, the emergency telephone number is 066 (not 911) and can be dialed via a public phone.

2. Panama City Beach, Florida

Last year for Spring Break, I traveled to Panama City Beach, Florida (sometimes referred to as PCB) and had an amazing time. The beaches are beautiful, the restaurants and hotels are topnotch, and the options available to college students are plentiful. The best part about PCB was the vast amount of activities available to me and my friends for cheap, including parasailing, jet skiing, and visiting local attractions. I had the time of my life in PCB and you can, too, if you make good decisions and use common sense.

Remember to keep your ID with you at all times, especially if you’re drinking or utilizing the shuttle system. If you’re trying to get around the city, then be sure to call multiple transportation companies and double-check that they are willing to give you a ride. I learned during my first day at PCB that sometimes taxis or shuttle buses were unreliable, so it’s important to follow-up if you need transportation. Lastly, utilizing the buddy system is key for PCB because there are thousands of college students on the beaches and in the city. Losing your party or one of your friends can ruin your night, so be sure to assign buddies and work out a communication system prior to leaving the hotel each time.

3. Miami, Florida

Miami isn’t on the crazy level of PCB or Cancun, but is more of a “cool club scene” where everyone “dresses for success,” reports the About.com guide. If you’re looking for more of a relaxing, sophisticated Spring Break where the nightlife is still awesome, then this is the destination for you.

Tips for having a safe spring break in Miami include always keeping your hands on your money and only taking cabs that charge a flat rate (to avoid being overcharged). If you’re at a bar, make sure to read your bar tab carefully to make sure your tab wasn’t run up by the bartender.

4. South Padre Island, Texas

Since South Padre Island is a newer, less traditional Spring Break location, it emphasizes “character” and offers some pretty unique options. Kiteboarding and a close proximity to the major cities of Texas make South Padre a fun destination with endless possibilities for activities.

Some precautions for South Padre Island are to remain close to the destination and not venture too far south of the island. Crime and drug wars have taken place in the Matamoros area, which is about 30 minutes south. Other than that, South Padre Island is one of the safest Spring Break locations.

5. Europe

Especially if you have friends currently studying abroad in Europe, this destination can give you memories that will last a lifetime. While you may not be partying with celebrities or sleeping on the beach all day, you will get to learn about the awesome history of Europe and experience sites that will leave you dreaming all the way past finals week.

One of the best parts about going to Europe for Spring Break is the variety of locations that you will be able to see because of the easily accessible train system. However, there are also some important “train safety tips” that you should know. Locking your backpack and being sure to not leave it unattended are essential to avoiding pickpocketing. Also, remaining aware of your surroundings and the people around you is always important when traveling in another country.

Now that you’ve heard all about the rewards and precautions of the top 5 most popular Spring Break destinations, the experience falls completely into your hands. Making decisions based on common sense will allow you to have a memorable, smooth Spring Break without any scary situations, and if you are still concerned, you may want to consider travel insurance. And remember to always be sure to research safety tips for your spring break destination prior to traveling!

Bon voyage!

*Sources consulted:

About.com – Mexico Travel
About.com – Student Travel: Cancun
About.com – Student Travel: South Beach Spring Break and Miami Spring Break
About.com – Student Travel: Top 6 Europe Safety Tips
Articlearn.com – Spring Break in Miami: What to Expect
Fox News – Dangers Lurk in Some Spring Break Destinations
U.S. News – Travel
Kentwired.com – Panama City police give spring break advice to students