Traveling presents unique safety risks
Editor’s note: This is part of a package on spring break. Also see How to keep the ‘break-in’ out of spring break and What to do if you’re stuck in town while your friends get drunk in Cancun.
As students prepare for spring break adventures, measures to travel safe could pay off. This year, hundreds of students will go overseas and thousands more will vacation in the country.
The two biggest risks traveling students encounter are traffic and bodies of water, said Ben Chamberlain, the international health and safety analyst in the Office of Study Abroad. Be especially careful around busy roadways, and swim only under lifeguard supervision, he said.
Human biology sophomore Kelly Thelen and her friends are taking care in preparation for their trip to Fort Myers, Fla.
“We have gone over rules about a buddy system and tried to plan out what we’re doing everyday,” Thelen said.
She said they also changed the oil and bought new tires for their car.
And don’t forget family back home.
“When you get (to your destination), call home and say you’re OK,” Chamberlain said. “This can relieve a lot of anxiety.”
It is important to fit in, or at least appear to.
“Don’t stand out, don’t dress in a flashy way, don’t flash money,” Chamberlain said. “Dress like the locals dress.”
Chamberlain said it’s important to stay in groups and to stay out of isolated, low-traffic areas.
“You don’t want to draw attention to yourself,” MSU police Sgt. Florene McGlothian-Taylor said.
McGlothian-Taylor also recommended leaving valuable, attention-attracting jewelry at home. Carry only necessary cash.
Chamberlain said one of the biggest issues he deals with is the consequences of students drinking alcohol when traveling.
“Impaired judgment puts you at a high risk in foreign (areas),” he said.
Chamberlain recommended reviewing the liquor laws of any destination before arrival.
Take care overseas
This break, 206 students will be traveling out of country through study abroad programs, mostly to Latin America. Many more will be traveling overseas independently. Chamberlain recognized the value of good judgment, especially in foreign countries.
“The idea of common sense (is important) — a new country, a new culture can be very disorienting,” he said.
Chamberlain said to make sure health insurance coverage is up to date. Always carry copies of any important travel documents — such as passports, health insurance cards and visas — either in a pouch or money belt.