Whether you’re trekking through Europe on an adventurous backpacking tour, traveling to Mexico for sun and sand or making the short flight to South Beach or Margaritaville, I have some news for you.
Traveling, especially overseas, requires a lot of preparation. You will need all your travel documents, such as passport, visa, itinerary and travel insurance, which Kelly Loredo, travel adviser for the Student Travel Agency (STA), strongly emphasizes. “Travel insurance may sound like a sales pitch, but it can save you from a lot of agony in an unfortunate and unexpected situation,” Loredo said. Travel insurance costs $43 for eight days, and includes medical expenses, trip cancellations and contact information for an English-speaking doctor in any country. Insurance also covers baggage loss and airline bankruptcy.
[ruin] Although you do not need a passport to travel to Mexico, it is essential to have a birth certificate; a couple forms of identification, such as a driver’s license or state I.D. and other appropriate travel documents, such as tickets and/or reservations.
Additionally, if you are headed south of the border, you should avoid drinking the tap water. Wendy Stahl, STA branch manager, said, “All vacationers traveling to Mexico should drink bottled water to avoid illness.” Montezuma’s Revenge, also known as travelers’ diarrhea, has ruined many spring breaks.
Merchandising management junior Kelly Patton always prepares for spring break by packing her Pepto Bismol and a few other over-the-counter remedies. “I have a sensitive stomach, but I love to try different foods from other cultures, so I always stock up,” Patton said.
Another essential health tip is avoiding overexposure to the sun. Many Michiganders ignorantly take their winter skin down south and burn it to a crisp. Greg Kaltz, an English junior traveling to West Palm Beach for spring break, said he keeps that thought in mind. “To avoid sunburn, I always slap on the SPF 15, no more, no less,” he said. Remember, you can still get a tan even if you are wearing sunscreen. Use at least SPF 15 and avoid being in the sun for too long during midday, when the skin is most vulnerable.
[sta] When traveling in or out of the United States, spring breakers should carry a copy of emergency contact information in case of an unexpected medical emergency. Another very important tip for travelers is to carry three forms of money. “Never carry too much cash,” Loredo said. “You should have travelers’ checks, cash and a credit card.” She also suggests travelers should never bring any valuables that cannot be replaced. Pickpockets and thieves prey on naive spring breakers and foreigners, so always make sure your belongings are on you at all times.
It is important for spring break travelers to use common sense. When you are ready to go out at night, and you’ve had a few cocktails, remember it’s always good to travel in groups. The vacationer mindset, when combined with alcohol, often lowers one’s inhibitions. Also, think twice about random spring break hook-ups, and always protect yourself; you’d hate to bring home a little souvenir like an unwanted pregnancy or STD. It is also important to research the area before you go, either on the Internet or with travel guidebooks such as Lonely Planet, Fodor’s or Rick Steve’s, so you are familiar with your destination.
M.J. Garrett of The Real World: Philadelphia, who is fresh off a trip to Hawaii and has traveled to Fiji, sponsored by STA Travel, said young people need to make the most of their vacation. He expressed the importance of keeping an open mind when experiencing other cultures and people. “Young people need to get the full experience of the culture by getting out, getting active and soaking it up,” Garrett said.
[sidebar] While in Fiji, he experienced a traditional meal with the Fijians, who welcomed the American tourists with open arms. “Really, Fiji is still in the beginning stages of development; it is so pure and has not been Americanized yet,“ Garrett said. “We can learn so much from other cultures.” Traveling can change your whole perspective on life, so it is important to open yourself up to new experiences.
Other tips Garrett offered to college travelers were to take a camera and capture the moment, and to journal the experiences. “Otherwise the images, tastes and smells will fade in your memory,” he warned. Garrett also said young people should respect the place they are traveling to because they are in other people’s territory. As Americans, we hope foreigners would also respect our home if they were traveling to the States.
Step outside your comfort zone and experience other cultures’ food, people and scenery. And most importantly, use common sense when traveling to unfamiliar places. Research the area and its attractions and find out what shots or other precautions you might need prior to departure.
And don’t forget the Pepto Bismol.
For more information, contact STA Travel located at 207 E. Grand River Ave or call at 517-432-7722.