One of the things that students look forward to the most, and parents probably worry about the most – Spring Break! It’s a time when students are ready to let their hair down, and can hardly wait to break free from the routine of daily college life. It’s no secret that kids are looking for places that offer warm weather, water, cheap booze, and bargains. We don’t want to rain on their parade, but feel that we should join others in warning them about some of the risks involved when traveling, especially if they choose to go to out of the United States.
The Texas Department of Public Safety issued a very blunt statement on March 1st, stating “Avoid Mexico travel during Spring Break and Stay Alive!” The northern border cities were the most dangerous at one time; however, authorities have warned travelers that the drug-related violence is rapidly growing worse, and violence and other crimes have moved from the border to other parts of the country, even the resort areas in southern Mexico, as well as Mexico City. This is the third warning in three months that the agency has advised totally staying out of Mexico. Boaters are warned to stay on the U.S. side of Falcon Lake, where several Americans have been robbed and one young man killed in recent months. Ted Poe, R- Humble, Texas, in his appearance on CBS’ Early Show on March 1st, said Americans or Mexican nationals are not safe in Mexico where the drug cartels are operating in different portions of the country. A profound escalation of cartel-related conflicts in Mexico has created an environment in which deadly violence can happen anywhere, regardless of bystanders, their nationality or status. He recommended that students go somewhere in the United States for their spring break.
There are many places in Texas, Louisana, Florida, and other southern states that offer plenty of water and sunshine. Because of the economy, it would keep more dollars at home. Wherever your destination is, here’s a few tips:
- The sun will maximize the effects of alcohol, and cause a hangover to be worse.
- Be sure to take along lots of sunscreen, if you going to a beach area.
- Plan ahead, and think about the consequences of taking risks.
- Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water.
- Drink responsibly.
- Have a designated driver, and check out the laws of the area.
Family groups will be traveling during this time, too, and all of these tips can be helpful. The “buddy system” applies to travel anytime, anywhere. Never get separated from your group, nor leave with strangers. There are predators who will try to steal or commit worse crimes on unsuspecting persons. Water safety is another thing to understand. Do not swim where there is no lifeguard on duty. Know the flags for water safety:
- Red – Stay out of water, strong undertow or riptides.
- Yellow –Undertow and riptides possible.
- Blue – Calm water; Swim safely!
Wherever you choose to travel this spring, please do this:
- Have an emergency plan: designate meeting places in case of getting separated from your group, and know the evacuation plans of the hotel you are staying in.
- Pack a disaster kit (just in case): water, non-perishable food, battery-operated radio, cell phone, first aid kit,and flashlight.
- Stay informed.
Here are also a few tips for all travelers to follow that will help everyone stay well while on vacation: take some hand sanitizer and wipes to keep down germs in your hotel room. Use paper cups that are provided rather than glass ones, which may not have been washed properly. Move the bedspread away and wipe down the remote control, phone, and bathroom handles. It pays to be “germ-conscious” when staying away from home.
Persons who are planning to vacation outside the U.S. should always check the U.S. State Department website for up-to-date information related to security issues in the country they plan to travel. Have fun, but use common sense, and stay safe. Mom and Dad will sleep a lot better when you are back home.