Students should use caution while traveling

By Victoria Snell

Spring break is a time for fun and relaxation. However, sometimes the fun overshadows important precautions that, if ignored, can put a damper on a vacation. The U.S. Department of the State advises travelers to enroll in their Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, which allows individuals to stay updated on safety conditions and travel alerts. In order to further avoid possible bumps in the road, consider the advice of experienced sources before taking a spring break vacation:

Preparation

Tim Davis, president of Suzi Davis Travel, a travel agency with several locations including Champaign and Bloomington, Illinois, offices, stressed the importance of preparing for the visit ahead of time.

“The Internet is a wonderful thing; (students) can review their resort online, get kind of an idea of what the restaurants are, what the pools are, and they can read a little bit about their destination and things like that,” he said.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of State advised in a media release from 2014 that it is important for tourists to research the destination prior to arriving.

“Here, you can find out about entry requirements, crime, health precautions and road conditions,” according to the release. The department also advised individuals to pay attention to local laws and to “remember they might be different from our own. Don’t carry or use drugs, as this can result in severe penalties.”

Have updated documentation

While planning a spring break vacation, another aspect to consider is proper documentation.

“You have to make sure (to) check documentation – they have to have a passport, and it needs to be valid,” Davis said. “Sometimes if (students) got one maybe before they were 18, it might have expired and they might still need to have one.”

Take necessary medications/shots

While Annie Stasaitis, sophomore in Business, said she is an experienced traveler, her parents are urging her to take precautions to avoid getting sick while on a College of Business spring break study abroad trip in India .

“My dad was definitely the one who pushed (me to get) the malaria pills,” she said.

Stasaitis said she has heard stories of students coming back from breaks with illnesses such as scarlet fever. As an additional measure, Stasaitis also received preventative shots during her winter break.

Stay within resort areas

Davis noted that a common misconception about unfamiliar places are that they are unsafe. However, Davis said that the resort areas are generally secure.

“The resort areas of Mexico are very, very safe, and again, a little common sense goes a long way in ensuring that everyone is safe and having a good time,” he said.

During a previous spring break trip, Stasaitis said she was warned not to drink water that was not already in a bottle or at the resort. She also said she has noticed unsafe roads outside the resort on a previous trip.

Do not go overboard

Upon arriving at the destination, be sure to take a minute to take care of any preliminary actions before going straight to the fun. Davis explained that students initially rush to the party before taking the time to do things like applying sunblock.

“You need to make sure that the first few days while you’re down there that you keep the sunblock on — nothing ruins a vacation much faster than getting burnt to a crisp on your first day,” he said.

Going overboard extends to alcohol consumption as well. The Department reminded that, “‘Overdoing it’ can lead to an arrest, accident, violent crime or death.”

Keep in touch

While students may be busy having fun, The Department stressed the importance of keeping parents in the loop, even if access to services will not be available.

“If you will be without Internet or phone service for a few days, let them know,” the release states. Stasaitis said it is also important to give someone an itinerary of plans in case something happens to go wrong during the trip. Another valuable precaution, Davis explained, is the infamous “buddy system.”

“Travel with other people, too, that’s always smart — you never go out at night by yourself. Man or woman, you know, you’ve got to have the buddy system,” he said. “Never let (people) go off by themselves — again, common sense things, but things that are sometimes lost in the atmosphere and the environment of spring break.”

While Davis said he believes that travel advisers have a local knowledge of spring break locations, he also said that doing research on the Internet is helpful. However, Davis stressed that when surfing the Internet it can give out too much or incorrect information.

Stasaitis also advises students to look on the University’s study abroad website for any other concerns that may come up while planning a trip.

She also added one last thing to consider when it comes to traveling over spring break:

“Don’t be afraid to study abroad or go out of the country and experience new things, but definitely be aware of surroundings and what you’re getting yourself into,” she said.

Victoria can be reached at [email protected]