Spring Break is that once a year week when high school and college students leave everything behind and travel to tropical paradises for a week of fun and relaxation. All through March, colleges have their week off and for students, warmer climates and beach locations are the prime spots to unwind and let loose. Often times these destinations are outside of the United States. That means there are added health and safety concerns, so these tips can help prepare even the first time, Freshman spring breakers.
One of the most important aspect of traveling to another country for vacation, or any other reason, is to check up on vaccines and any potential health risks at the destination. This can be easily attained by checking with local health departments as well as visiting primary care doctors domestically, who can provide all the necessary shots and medications to combat potential hazards. Don’t forget it is still flu season (especially if the week off is earlier in March) so flu shots are important. Drastic changes in temperature and environment can shock the immune system, leaving it susceptible.
International health insurance plans are useful to look into as well. Some domestic health plans may not cover international doctors or hospitals, and if something unfortunately goes wrong, it could become very expensive without insurance. It is also best to look up doctors and hospitals in the area and know where the closest, and best, ones are in case of any such emergency. Activities like hiking, diving and jet skiing are popular too. But unreliable establishments can lead to accidents and injuries. Check with local vendors ahead of time and gain tips on the outlets with high safety and health records at all spring break locations.
Foods in other countries, though exotic and delicious, do not always adhere to the same strict health codes as the United States. Read up on the different types of bacteria that may be found in the local cuisine and how to protect yourself from it. Also be weary of leaving drinks unattended. It is nice to think that everyone is there to have a good time, but it never hurts to take extra precautions.
Staying with the group is also advisable. Everyone will not be together 100 percent of the time, but groups branching off should never get smaller than two or three people. Traveling alone in an unfamiliar setting only spells trouble. Letting others know about excursions off the hotel premises can go a long way as well. This means not just those at the destination, but also friends and family back home. Communications abroad do not always work as well, so having someone at home who can check with the hotel makes all the difference.
International climates, especially the warmer, tropical ones, experience different weather patterns than in the United States. Make sure to always wear sun screen, especially if traveling from an area of the country that is still very cold. Being covered and unexposed to the UVA rays after not seeing any for months can make the skin much more susceptible to harmful burns, especially for destinations closer to the equator where UVA rays are stronger. Start with sun block on the first few days and then gradually lower the degree as the skin adjusts to the warmer climate. Lastly, before the trip, make sure all planned activities are set up ahead of time and check out a map of the surrounding area. It is paramount that the traveler always knows exactly where they are in case of an emergency and to prevent getting lost. Besides that, just be smart and have fun.
It is exciting to plan such trips, but it can go a long way to fully prepare ahead of time. Once everything is taken care of and all precautions are addressed, the vacation can be just that. After these health and safety tips are taken into consideration, there is nothing left to do but kick back, relax and enjoy spring break.
By Chris Dragicevich