It’s spring break and you just arrived at your hotel in Mexico. You flew in a day before your friends and decided to hit the local beach for some sunbathing and cocktails. You’re tired from traveling and decide to take a nap under your sun umbrella. When you wake you reach for your purse to check your phone when you realize it’s missing. Someone had taken it while you were sleeping. What do you do now? But most importantly, how can you have prevented this?
Spring Break can be a great time to relax, explore new places, and create lasting memories with high school and college friends. It’s a time when thousands of students descend on beaches and warm destinations. It’s a good idea to research the area to learn about potential safety concerns, places you should avoid, and laws specific to the area you are visiting. Given the relaxed atmosphere, coupled with alcohol usage, safety risks are increased and may lead to unwanted behavior, including crimes of opportunity. Local police presence is typically increased, so remain respectful and courteous when interacting with law enforcement. Make sure you always have appropriate identification on you.
Best Spring Break Safety Tips
To ensure your Spring Break is as safe as possible, keep these tips in mind:
- Make a Plan: Always let someone know where you’re going, when you’re going, and when you plan to return. If your plans change, alert your contacts. Have a plan and a backup plan.
- Hotel Location: Try to book a hotel that’s close to the places you plan to frequent most and is within walking distance. Request a room that is located between the second and fifth floors, in case of emergency or quicker escape, especially in case of a fire.
- Stick Together: Stay in groups and never go anywhere alone. Plan activities with your friends and stay together while out and about.
- Store Contact Information: Make sure to have the contact information of your friends, family and/or hotel front desk handy in case of an emergency. Store the number for local emergencies in your phone when traveling abroad, as 9-1-1 is not valid.
- Be Aware of Your Surroundings: Pay attention to your surroundings and trust your instincts if something doesn’t feel right, leave or ask for help.
- Watch Your Drinks: Be mindful of the type of drinks you consume and never accept an open beverage from someone you don’t know. If you choose to drink, do so with people you trust. Understand how alcohol affects you and your body and know that alcohol and drugs lower your inhibitions and can affect your judgment. Never leave your drink unattended or accept an open container from a stranger. As a reminder, public intoxication is a crime, and you can be arrested for it.
- Always carry a charged cell phone with you and use your phone’s safety features.
- Keep an eye on your belongings and don’t leave them unattended.
- Use public transportation whenever possible and always take a licensed taxi. Make sure you know how to get back to your hotel.
- Be aware of the weather forecast and check for any possible natural disasters. Stay up to date on travel advisories and other local warnings.
- Alert your credit card company about your travel plans for added protection should your credit card be lost or stolen. Avoid traveling with large amounts of cash.
- If you are traveling abroad, register with the embassy and protect your passport at all costs. Purchase travel insurance in case you must cancel your trip due to unforeseen circumstances.
More Spring Break Safety Tips
The American Safety Council also suggests the following precautions:
- 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.
- 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 more likely you could pass out. The same holds true in hot tubs, so take it easy there also.
- 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. Read this article on avoiding danger.
- 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.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 stranger can lead to serious problems down the road.
Important Spring Break Safety Tip – Be A Hard Target
As always, be a hard target. Stand & walk with confidence, making eye contact with the people you encounter. Research which self-defense tools are allowed at your destination prior to arriving, including pepper sprays and stun devices with GPS tracking features. There are many other safety devices to consider when traveling, including tactical pens, striking tools, personal alarms and whistles, RFID wallets and purses, and door alarms to name a few. Verbal and non-verbal language should be strong and confident. Always maintain a safety mindset.
Enjoy your Spring Break! Travel safely and responsibly.