After a few months of studying and mid-terms are out of the way, it’s time to kick back and relax for a little something that we like to call spring break. Of course, when we think of spring break, we think of partying or big expensive oversees trips, but there are other options! Whether you’re traveling to somewhere tropical abroad, or have plans to stay in the United States, that’s one essential thing to keep in mind: Safety.
Essential Safety Tips
Keep Your ID on You
It isn’t unusual for students to travel while on spring vacation. Make sure you keep your driver’s license or state-issued identification card on you at all times when you are traveling. If you end up taking an international spring break trip, you’ll want to keep your passport tucked away and out of sight; an inner jacket pocket is a great spot for this. It’s a good idea to bring a paper copy of your passport and safely keep it at your hotel if the original gets lost.
Don’t Travel Alone
The buddy system is crucial when traveling in an unfamiliar place. Staying in a group is one of the simplest ways to avoid becoming a victim of a crime. It’s beneficial for preventing encounters with pickpockets or others who have bad intentions.
It doesn’t matter if you’re going out for a stroll on the beach or are heading to the club; make sure to travel with a friend!
Even if you think someone may be trustworthy, you should still be cautious when making new friends on your trip.
Be Careful with Money and Expensive Items
Traveling with expensive jewelry or handbags is unfortunately another easy way to become a target for crime. Be mindful of what you’re wearing or what electronics you bring with you on your trip. Flashy tourists are easy to spot, especially for thieves waiting to strike.
Try to only carry small amounts of cash on your trip, and don’t keep money out where a pickpocket can reach, like a back pocket or small purse. You will need to be mindful of where your debit card is when you are out to ensure that you don’t lose it, leading to identity theft or lots of expensive charges. Consider leaving the debit card at home and traveling with a credit card instead, since those have better fraud and theft protections in place.
If you really need to travel with a high-value item or a lot of cash, lock it in the trunk of the car during your trip or another place out of sight to keep it safe when your not using it.
Tips for Drinking Responsibly
If you have plans to drink alcohol over spring break, it’s important to know how to do so responsibly. Moderation is key.
Keep these tips in mind to stay safe while drinking:
- Don’t have more than one drink in an hour. That is a 12 oz beer, 5 oz wine, or 1.5 oz shot. Stick to having less than 2–4 drinks throughout the night.
- Eat before you drink and stay hydrated throughout the evening.
- Stay away from binge drinking, which means consuming four or more drinks in two hours as it can lead to alcohol poisoning and even death.
- The sun can intensify the effects of alcohol, be extra careful about how much you drink if you’re outside on a sunny day.
- Be careful if you are in the ocean, a pool, or a hot tub while drinking; Hot tubs will dehydrate you quickly and make the effect of alcohol stronger.
Finally, do not EVER leave your drink unattended. Unfortunately, date rape drugs are not uncommon among college party scenes — and they are tasteless and odorless. Don’t accept drinks from a stranger or drink out of punch bowls and open pitchers, which could contain extreme volumes of alcohol or spiked with dangerous drugs.
Practice Safe Driving
If you plan on taking a long road trip with friends, arrange to rotate drivers frequently, so everyone stays well-rested. Try to have someone in the passenger seat awake to keep the driver company. Falling asleep at the wheel can be just as dangerous as driving drunk.
Another idea you should consider is to have roadside assistance, whether it’s through a third party like AAA or your car’s warranty. Before setting out on your journey, ensure the vehicle has a spare tire, jack, and other tools needed to change a tire along with the appropriate oil levels and other fluids to function correctly. Hopefully, someone going on the trip knows how to change a tire!
Finally, this goes without saying: Don’t drink and drive. Do not allow your friends to drive if they have been drinking, and you should never get into a car with an impaired driver. There are plenty of ways to travel around and get back home, such as Uber or Lyft.
Not traveling for Spring Break? No problem!
There are many alternatives to the traditional spring break beach party if you don’t feel like traveling. You can use this time to job shadow, do community service, visit national parks, or even take a staycation.
It can be easy to throw caution to the wind as a college student while on your break, but knowing steps to take to stay safe is important. Being safe doesn’t have to put a damper on your fun, but know that there is such a thing as too much fun, especially when involving drugs and alcohol.
It might also be a good idea to consider getting travel insurance if you have invested a lot of money into your trip in case something happens. If you have GradGuard Renters Insurance, your belongings will also be safe if they get stolen while you are out of town with our worldwide property coverage!
Safe Travels and have FUN!