There’s one week that divides (scratch that)…defines the spring semester of college. That week is known as Spring Break. Some students head home for family time, others choose to spend their week on volunteer and mission trips, and some pack into cars for road trips, jump on a plane or board cruise ships in search of sun and an escape from professors, tests and syllabi.
We all hear it from our family…“please be safe,” “be careful,” “stick together,”…or some variation of this, but we brush it off and continue on to whatever we have planned. Does staying safe mean that we have to sacrifice the fun factor? Absolutely not! No matter where you find yourself during this much needed time away, there are a few easy pointers that can make for a safe—and fun—time.
- Let’s get technical. None of us get very far without taking our phones with us, so use it to your advantage and connect with friends on safety apps. Have everyone in your group connect on a safety app like Life360 or Find My Friends. I’m not going to lie, I used to ignore suggestions like this thinking it was intrusive or I would never need it. Then I was at a bachelorette party where this app really came in handy.
- Learn about cultural norms. If you are leaving the country for Spring Break, you are almost guaranteed to experience a culture change. Do a little bit of research on greetings, transportation, typical attire and gender norms. By learning about different cultures and ditching the “that’s not how we do things in the USA” mindset, you can prepare and adapt no matter where you find yourself.
- Prepare your transportation. If you are using a car to get anywhere, make sure your ride is ready for the trip. It can’t hurt to get the tire pressure, oil and overall diagnostics checked. This isn’t expensive and will pay off when you aren’t stranded on the side of the highway waiting for a tow truck. If you are headed out by plane or cruise ship, make sure your passport and/or ID is current, with at least six months before expiration. Many countries won’t allow entry without this buffer of time, so it is better to expedite an ID than to be left without options at the time of boarding.
- Invest in your safety. I live by the saying “you can never be too safe.” I have yet to find a time where this hurt my experience. I have only found that it has made my vacation even better and more comfortable. In a recent trip to Mexico, I purchased a portable door lock, door alarm and a zip-top purse for my belongings. Was it overkill? Maybe. Did it help me relax and know that I was protected? Absolutely. And you know what? I’ve never traveled without those items since! I had purchased pepper spray, too, but decided to leave it at home after finding out it is not permitted in certain countries, and I didn’t want to risk being detained Some sayings are true for a reason and “better safe than sorry” is one that has stood the test of time.
- Stick together. My friends and I have a deal, we never leave someone behind. Period. It’s not negotiable, and it’s not only when it is convenient. I am beyond thankful to have such loyal and steadfast sisters. Is it sometimes annoying? Yes. Can it be difficult to keep a large group together? Yes. Is it worth it? Without a doubt. Plus, there is nothing like coming back from a night out together, binging on junk food while recapping the happenings of the night, and then falling asleep knowing you will all be waking up in the same place.
Spring Break is a time to make new friends and countless memories, but that is only true if everyone comes back happy and healthy. As a career solo traveler, I look back and now realize how lucky I was to have all of my sisters looking out for me. I wish I could take them on every adventure around the globe! Kappa Delta gave me countless best friends, many of whom have met up with me around the world. I am not only fortunate because I am able to travel extensively, but also blessed with a network of incredible women Kappa Delta has given me. Just like with safety, one thing is consistently true—there is always power in numbers.
Kappa Alpha-Florida State
Jennifer is the founder and CEO of Explorateur Travel, a vacation planning service that specializes in custom travel itineraries. She launched her business to promote cultural experiences and make travel less intimidating and more affordable for travelers of all styles. To read more about her adventures and general travel tips go to http://www.explorateurtravel.com.