Spring Break not Spring Broken
Back in the days when I was in college, the destination for
people over eighteen and in college was Florida. The sunny warm
beaches and the promise of meeting thousands of other kids your
age was quite the draw. It still is in many cases. Ft.
Lauderdale, Cocoa Beach, Daytona Beach and even Disney World
brace themselves at this time of year for the onslaught of
Bikini clad, barefoot young people. But increasingly more and
more students are headed to destinations outside of the U.S.
Destinations like the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Aruba, Cozumel and
Cancun seem to be the new hot spots. Great travel rates and
spring package deals are drawing throngs of college kids to
tropical paradises outside the U.S. borders.
If you are licking your chops for spring break to arrive then
here are a few tips for you to make sure this spring break is a
lovely memory and not a horrible nightmare.
1. Remember you are in another country. The rules, regulations
and laws of a city or island outside the U.S. are different.
Getting into trouble with the local authorities becomes a whole
different ball game outside the United States
2. If you are traveling beyond the borders, remember to have up
to date passports and identity papers (drivers license, birth
3.Make copies of all of these documents and leave them with your
parents, U.S. passports and identity papers are very highly
sought after by thieves. If your papers are stolen, have your
parents fax the copies to you. Getting them replaced in a
foreign country is time consuming and almost impossible.
4.U.S. Immigration requires you to show documents both of U.S.
Citizenship and identity before you reenter the U.S. Just saying
you were born in the United States will not be enough. (some
countries charge you a departure tax, it may cost between $25.00
and $50.00 so make financial arrangements that include that fee)
5. It is a good idea to check with your health care insurance
company to make sure you are covered outside the country. Some
do and some don't.
6. Do not leave your luggage alone in airports or on docks and
do not ever accept packages from strangers. They may tell you
that their sweet old Uncle will meet you at the airport, but
more than likely it will be the drug enforcement officers.
Again, being jailed in another country is a long, long, scary
7. The drinking age in most of the vacation paradise locations
is 18. Being drunk is being vulnerable. Remember you are not at
8. Never go anywhere alone, especially at night. Two girls alone
can be just as bad. Always travel in groups. If one person in
your group is out of control, make sure someone sober will watch
9. It's a good idea not to accept dates with the locals. Don't
go off alone with anyone you don't know. Yes, there is human
trafficking and a sex slave trade that is alive and healthy.
Keep your wits about you.
10. Don't carry huge amounts of cash, use a replaceable vacation
money like travelers checks.
11. It's a good idea to know where the American Consulate is
located and the phone number. This will just take a minute and
the information is usually available from the hotel's concierge
12. If you are on a cruise, be prompt in returning from day
trips. Remember the captain is not your mother. You're on your
It will only take an hour or less to put these suggestions into
action and may save you hours of worry or heartache. Most of the
time spring breakers will go and return with lots of pictures, a
ton of great memories and a great tan, but lately we have heard
enough horror stories on the news to warrent a little before
If you are planning on Florida consider this, it may be a long
walk to the beach from some U.S. cites. You may not be familiar
with the ocean. Here are a couple of quick suggestions you may
want to keep in mind.
1. Consider tanning on the sand and swimming in your hotel's
pool. Rip tides occur all the time and can drag an unsuspecting
swimmer out to sea. The trick here is not to fight it by trying
to swim back to shore. Don't try it, it will exhaust you and you
won't make any headway. Swim across the rip until it "lets you
go". By then the lifeguard will have seen you are in trouble and
be on his way to aid you.
2. I almost hate to say this, but while we are stressing safety,
its bears repeating. Shark attacks on the coasts have increased.
The warmer water allows them to swim closer to shore. Life
guards monitor the surface for signs of sharks, but even they
get caught offguard. Swim where you can see whats swimming
Spring break may be the first time you have traveled on your
own. It won't be the last time if you use your good judgment and
keep your head. Remember this is spring break, not spring
broken. Have fun and remember to pack your sun screen!