How to stay safe during Spring Break escapes - WSET.com - ABC13

How to stay safe during Spring Break escapes

Updated: March 29, 2011 03:38 PM EDT
A word of caution: Loud, boisterous behavior can turn you into a target if predatory types perceive you as drunk and clueless. (©iStockphoto/Thinkstock) A word of caution: Loud, boisterous behavior can turn you into a target if predatory types perceive you as drunk and clueless. (©iStockphoto/Thinkstock)
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By Chris Gray Faust

For weeks now, there's been nothing but bad news for people planning spring break getaways.

First, the clamor of warnings against going to Mexico rose when the Texas Department of Public Safety discouraged students from crossing the border, due to concerns about the ongoing drug violence. Cruise ships have been pulling out of popular ports such as Acapulco and Mazatlan.

Then, the turmoil in the Middle East caused oil prices to rise. Gas prices are now above $4 a gallon in California, making a road trip seem more like a luxury than a rite of passage. Average airfares to warm weather spots and ski destinations this spring were up 15%, according to Bing Travel's 2011 Spring Break Forecast.

And most recently, a report from Avvo listed family-friendly Orlando -- yes, Orlando -- as the country's most dangerous spring break destination. The rankings were based on the violent crime risk/rank, murder risk/rank, rape risk/rank, fatal car crashes and Avvo's data on doctors and lawyers.

It's almost enough to make a family turn to a staycation -- or at least it would if much of the country hadn't experienced such a bad winter. Whether it's frustration with being snowbound or a surge in consumer confidence, people have booked more travel this spring, with an 8% gain over last year, according to American Express Consumer Data.

Kara Williams of Colorado is visiting the Maya Riviera with her family this week. She has "zero concerns" about safety in the tourist areas that she'll be visiting.

"The plush oceanfront resorts on pristine white-sand beaches that we frequent are a far cry from urban Mexico City or the poor border town of Tijuana," said Williams, who blogs about family travel on the website, The Vacation Gals (www.thevacationgals.com). "We are not putting ourselves -- or our kids -- in harm's way at all."

Whether you're with a group of friends for college-style partying or with your kids for some family bonding, there are a few simple strategies that can keep your Spring Break safe and drama free. Here are a few guidelines:
 
1. Stay savvy.
 
No matter how magic the kingdom, you should keep your wits about you. Wear your purse across the chest, and don't set it down out of reach. Men should keep wallets in their front pocket. Don't flash cash, especially in foreign countries, and think twice about how much bling you want to display on the street. Even if the floors of your resort are lined with marble (as many of them are), the surrounding neighborhood may not be as posh.

2. Stay sober (or make sure someone else is).
 
It's no secret that trouble on spring break happens when the alcohol starts flowing. And sure, a little bit of liquor can be a big part of the fun. But if you're with a group and plan to do anything beyond leaving your hotel room, it's best to have someone sober on patrol.

At Lake Havasu, Arizona -- where students from across the Southwest flock for monster Spring Break boat parties -- officials are taking the Lake Havasu Marine Association's "Carry a Designated Operator" programs one step further. Wristbands marking sober boat drivers will be distributed at Lake Havasu and Cattail Cove state parks, and seven watercraft rental agencies have agreed to put penalties in their contracts for boaters who get boozed up.

3. Stay covered.
 
No, we're not talking teeny bikinis here. Sunstroke, dehydration and burns can be huge health hazards on a warm weather vacation, especially if you're the sort who hasn't seen strong sunlight in six months.

Choose a high SPF sunscreen and apply it liberally. Avoid excessive sun bathing from 10am to 2pm. Invest in a hat or swim with a T-shirt. And drink lots of water, especially if you are imbibing (a glass of water for every alcoholic drink is a good rule of thumb).

4. Stay together.
 
If you're on break with friends, travel in groups and make sure no one goes off on their own, either in the bar or on the beach. Stick to busy, well-traveled areas at night. Parents should keep tabs on their kids, either by keeping the young ones in sight or by checking in regularly with teens via text messages.

5. Stay under the radar.
 
You're on vacation, so why not let loose? But loud, boisterous behavior can turn you into a target if predatory types perceive you as drunk and clueless. Observe how the locals act, and follow their lead.

Travel journalist Chris Gray Faust spent most of her spring breaks driving cross-country. Read more travel tips on her award-winning blog, Chris Around The World (www.caroundtheworld.com).

View the original "How to stay safe during Spring Break escapes" story at www.frommers.com
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