Spring break is a popular time of year, especially for those who have endured snow and cold temperatures. Many families and college students like to visit countries such as Mexico, Aruba, and Jamaica during spring break.
Below is a list of safety tips to keep in mind when traveling to these destinations.
1. Visiting ATMs – If you need to withdraw cash from an ATM, make sure you travel with friends. Friends can scan the area to make sure nothing “fishy” is going on. Also make sure to cover the key pad when you are entering your pin number.
2. Cash handling – Carry a small amount of cash on you and keep the rest in your hotel room safe. This way if your cash is lost or stolen while out and about, you will still have some left to enjoy the rest of your trip.
3. Contact your credit card company – It is a good idea to notify your credit card company when you’ll be traveling. If you don’t, they may put a hold on your account, preventing further card use. Also talk to them about what your credit limit is. Depending on the country, you can be arrested for accidentally going above your credit card limit.
4. Enroll in the U.S. Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) – By enrolling in this program, U.S. embassies and consulates will be able to assist you if you are a victim of a crime, accident, or illness; need assistance with getting a new passport; or are involved in a natural disaster.
5. Keep your family or friends in the loop – It is a good idea to leave copies of your itinerary and passport with family or friends so they can help you in an emergency situation. Identity Theft 911 has partnered with West Bend and allows insureds to contact them prior to traveling or during travel. This service is designed to help prepare policyholders for travels, as well as provide worldwide access to fraud specialists if they need help while traveling. Lastly, keep your passport and other documents locked in your hotel safe.
6. Make sure to pack plenty of sun screen and aloe lotion – According to the American Academy of Dermatology dermatologists recommend using a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. An SPF of 30 blocks 97% of the sun’s rays. Higher SPFs can block slightly more of the sun’s rays but no sunscreen can block 100%. It is recommended that sun screen be applied 15 minutes prior to sun exposure and then every two hours or after swimming or sweating. If you have water resistant or water proof sunscreen, it can provide 40 – 80 minutes of protection while in the water. If you take precautions and still manage to get sunburn, click here for ways to treat it.
7. Drink plenty of water – Alcohol, sun exposure, salt water, and caffeine can lead to dehydration. Make the most out of your vacation by alternating alcoholic drinks with water. If you do experience dehydration (dizziness, weakness, confusion, muscle spasms, passing out, or dark urine), make sure to drink a large glass of ice water.
8. Don’t forget your hat, sunglasses and a long sleeve shirt – While a lot of people have the goal of coming back with a nice tan, it is important to have these items along to protect you from overexposure to the sun.
9. Transportation – Once you have booked your flight, research what your ground transportation options are. Talk to your hotel, travel agent or review the airport’s website to find reputable ground transportation. The last thing you want to do is arrive at the airport and have no idea how you are going to get to your hotel. If you plan on renting a car or moped during your stay, make sure you have proper insurance coverage and know the countries’ driving laws.
10. Ocean swimming – Spending time on the beach and swimming in the ocean can be a relaxing and fun experience, especially as the tide comes in or out, or if there are some big waves. However, swimming with no lifeguard on duty can be dangerous. Make sure if you plan to swim in the ocean that you are accompanied by a friend or family member. Also, it is important to know the warning flag system for water safety.
• Red flags – This is the most serious flag and warns swimmers to stay out of the water due to strong undertows or riptides.
• Yellow flags – Use caution in the water; undertow and riptides are possible, but are not life-threatening.
• Green flags – Represents that it is safe to swim. However, always remember to use caution.
• Blue/purple flags – Use caution in the water as dangerous marine life may be present including, but not limited to, sharks and jellyfish.
For more detailed information on the country you plan on visiting on spring break or any other time during the year, visit http://www.travel.state.gov/
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