7 Essential Tips for a Safe Spring Break

Students across the country are getting ready for Spring Break. While they no doubt are thinking only of the fun they plan on having, nothing can turn a good time bad faster than running into danger, whether through accident or malice. Keep these helpful tips in mind to have a Spring Break that is memorable for all the right reasons.
1.  Book the right hotel. While many factors determine the best hotel for your vacation, one quality many people don’t give enough value to is the location. Price and user reviews are important, but try finding a hotel that is as close to where you plan on spending most of your time. If possible, try to find one that allows you to walk everywhere to reduce your traveling.
While you’re at it, request a room between the 2nd and 5thfloors. The first floor, being on ground level, is more likely to be broken into, while floors 6 and higher may not be reached by fire fighters’ ladders.
2.  Have taxi numbers handy. If you do need a vehicle to get you to places around your Spring Break destination, make sure to use a taxi if you’re going to be drinking. Drinking and driving is always dangerous, but it is even more so when you aren’t familiar with the location’s layout. Not to mention the taxi driver will know the directions better than you will to be able to get you places faster. Be sure to store the numbers of reputable taxi operators in your phone before you head out.
While you’re at it, be sure to find out the local emergency number ahead of time and store it. If you’re traveling outside the United States, 9-1-1 won’t be the number to call, and an emergency is the wrong time to try to find the right number.
3.  Stay safe at the beach. The beach is one of the most popular destinations for traveling Spring Breakers, but it carries its own set of hazards. To avoid the worst dangers when swimming, always look for beaches with lifeguards present; this both provides someone to help in case of emergency and lets you know the beach is safe in general. Also be sure to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water (not alcohol or soft drinks), even if you don’t feel thirsty.

While you’re at it, know what to do in case you’re caught in a rip tide. A rip tide is a strong current that is nearly impossible to detect, even when you’re in it, that can pull people very rapidly away from shore. If you’re caught in one, swim parallel to the beach. Don’t try to swim against the rip tide, as you’ll only exhaust yourself, which is bad news when you’re far out in the ocean.
4.  Beware the sun. While this is also very important to keep in mind at the beach, the sun will likely play a big part of whatever Spring Break destination you choose, either from lounging poolside or engaging in any activity where you spend a lot of time outdoors. Even when it’s cloudy outside, skin-burning light is still coming through, so be sure to use sunscreen with an SPF rating of at least 15, but preferably 30 or more. It’s hard to feel a sunburn until after the fact, so even if you feel cool, be sure to check for redness. In addition to the immediate effects of the sunburn, unprotected exposure to the sun can also lead to consequences down the road, from wrinkles all the way to skin cancer.
While you’re at it, avoid excessive alcohol consumption while in the sun as it can lead to dehydration and heat fatigue much more easily. The heat can also amplify the effects of the alcohol; making it all the more likely you could pass out. The same holds true in hot tubs, so take it easy there also.
5.  Stay in groups. It’s dangerous to be alone in an unfamiliar place, and it will be evident to criminals that you’re in that situation. Pickpocketing, muggings, and abductions are all more likely when you’re spending extra energy trying to orient yourself to your new surroundings. But there is strength in numbers, so stay together, especially at night.
While you’re at it, watch out for danger signs that someone is trying to take advantage of your friends even in a group setting. Drinks being spiked with drugs like sleeping aids or ‘roofies’ are not just urban legends. Signs that you or a friend has been drugged include extreme wooziness, trouble standing, general confusion, and slurred speech, even if they haven’t had much to drink. If that’s the case, get them out of there immediately. Even if they haven’t been drugged, their night should probably be at an end.
6.  Be careful at an ATM. Anyone with an interest in a quick payday and a disregard for the law can see the ATM as an easy source of income, making any trip to use one dangerous. If you must use one, don’t go alone. Always do a complete scan of the area, and if you see anyone or anything suspicious, move on, either coming back later or finding a new one. Having a group also helps turn away would-be thieves, and someone else can act as a lookout.
While you’re at it, try to use cash as little as possible. In addition to preventing future trips to the ATM, it will make you less of a target if you use credit cards and traveler’s checks whenever possible. Paying with cash gives opportunists the idea that you’re carrying a large amount of it, which makes you a potentially enticing target.
7.  Avoid random meetings. There are plenty of interesting people to meet while you’re on vacation who are from a different location than you and who will have different points of view on many things. Interacting with them can be lots of fun, but there are plenty of dangers. From con artists looking to get you alone to swindle you or kidnap you to a date with someone who is a complete stranger can lead to serious problems down the road.

While you’re at it, don’t use drugs. While avoiding illegal drugs or consumption of alcohol is a good idea in general for both legal reasons and health concerns, you may be more tempted than usual to
on Spring Break. Purchasing anything during your Spring Break destination is more hazardous than usual. You are making yourself a target for a con during the transaction and simply have no idea what you’re going to get.

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