With spring break fast approaching, many students will soon leave behind their books and classroom notes in exchange for some much anticipated fun in the sun.
But with all the excitement building up, there are a few things to bear in mind to ensure that your spring break will be a safe and memorable one.
When hitting the clubs or bars, women should be especially careful. In a survey conducted by the American Medical Association, 74 percent of women said they use spring break drinking as an excuse for “ outrageous” behavior that the AMA said could include public nudity and dancing on tables.
“If you are going to drink, never leave your drinks unattended, always keep them covered to prevent anyone from slipping something in them, and try to go out in groups of at least two or three,” said Kathy Giordano, RN, BSN, and manager for couplet care woman services at Methodist Hospital.
Aside from getting sick from excessive alcohol consumption, the AMA says there is also the risk of blacking out and/or engaging in unprotected sex or sex with more than one partner, which increases risks for sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.
Before making any trips, make sure you have the basics covered. Some useful tools to include in your travel pack are sunscreen, insect repellent, band aids, bottled water, aloe vera gel to soothe sunburn.
Considering all the different types of sunscreen on the market right now, a good way to eliminate some confusion is to remember “not to go above SPF 30, because anything higher than that doesn’t make much of a difference in protecting yourself from the sun,” Giordano said.
For those traveling abroad, make sure that you are familiar with the basic laws of your intended destination. Even though school will be out, it is still important to do your homework and make sure you know your rights, especially if you are going out of the country.
To see some government issued warnings for well-known vacation areas, log onto www.travel.state.gov prior to planning your trip.
“It is important for college students to be very wary, not necessarily scared, but wary of their surroundings when traveling,” said Jeffrey Spring, public relations manager at AAA.
Spring, an employee of AAA for 19 years, recommends that students plan out the specifics of their vacation before traveling. He also recommends they check the weather and pack clothing accordingly, and always take an ATM card or traveler’s checks along with them.
“Unfortunately, many people try to take advantage of students. Some see them as gullible and people who can be easily parted with their money, which is why a lot of pre-planning should go into any trip,” Spring said.
A tip from a seasoned spring break traveler, Veronica Andrews, a junior at the University of La Verne, is to “always carry extra cash in case of an emergency.”
But, as Spring warns, “Be careful not to take too much cash with you, about fifty dollars or so should be good to have.”
Andrews will be vacationing in Mexico this spring break and recommends that when on trips, “instead of taking a short cut through an unfamiliar area, just stick to the main road to be safe, even if it might take a little longer.”
For ULV students who decide to stay local on their spring break, there are a few ways to make the most out of the time off. Southern California has a number of activities and locations that can suit just about any traveler minus the hectic planning that goes into out-of-state travel.
With ULV being so close to the mountains, it might be a good idea for snow-lovers to visit Mt. Baldy to enjoy snowboarding and skiing. Or, for a shorter road trip, ULV students can visit the beaches of San Diego, Newport, or Santa Monica.
Students like freshman Jackie Dino, who is going to Disneyland over spring break, can also visit amusement parks for a day or take the time off to spend time with family.
“I prefer to go back home for spring break to visit my family than to be around the normal atmosphere of spring break.”
Nick Solis, sophomore liberal studies major at the ULV says he is going to stay in the area for his break and enjoy doing little things like going to concerts, and with the tight budget that so many college students are on, ?this might be a better route.
“It all depends on what you like to do and if you can afford it, every person has their way to enjoy spring break,” Solis said.
Or if you choose to take a more humanitarian approach, there are also programs that allow you to be a part of the restoration process for the victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Habitat for Humanity, the Red Cross, and other organizations will allow you to visit the affected areas and build houses or participate in other means of involvement.
When visiting Web sites related to your desired spring break destination, be careful not to get involved in a scam. There are a lot of scam artists out there. To differentiate between scam sites and reputable ones, just do a Google search of the company’s name along with the words “complaints” or “lawsuit” to avoid being conned.
No matter if you are at home or abroad, if you do decide to visit the beach on your vacation, be careful not to fall asleep in the sun.
“Falling asleep on the beach will cause severe sunburn, and if you are drinking while in the sun, be careful not to get dehydrated as it may also cause an increase of sunburn among other health risks,” said Giordano.
Everyone wants to have a good spring break, so keep these tips in mind before you go and remember to be safe.
Megan Montalvo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.