IU experts offer tips on having a fun and safe spring break

Post by IU newsroom intern Alex Kimbrell:

Whether it’s a beach vacation, a mountain hiking expedition or volunteering half-way across the world, spring break can produce some unforgettable moments. However, the key to having a successful vacation is to make it memorable for all the right reasons.

Spring break signWith spring break quickly approaching, it’s important to be prepared for whatever adventure (planned or unplanned) comes your way. From safety to finances, IU experts have provided some tips on having a fun and safe spring break.

Safety first

When you go on vacation, nothing is more important than being safe and making responsible decisions. For many travelers, their vacation destination consists of an unknown land. Jackie Daniels, director of OASIS, the alcohol and drug-prevention education and intervention program of the IU Bloomington Division of Student Affairs, suggests researching your vacation spot before arriving at your destination.

“Know where the local facilities are for help,” Daniels said. “If you’re staying at a hotel, get the front desk’s number. If you’re overseas, get the information for the U.S embassy. Know where you can go for help, if needed.”

Daniels points out that you can still have fun over spring break; you should just look out for yourself and your friends. Just remember when heading to a party, always have a plan.

“Travel in groups, whether you’re male or female,” Daniels said. “Figure out what technology you can use to your benefit, such as apps on your phones you can use in case you get separated.”

Stay Healthy

Having a healthy lifestyle is hard enough as it is. Making healthy decisions during vacation can be even more difficult. Judy Klein, staff physician at the IU Health Center, says the important thing to remember over spring break is that this is in fact a break, so give your body some time to relax and refuel before coming back to school.

“There are so many stressors in the academic semester,” Klein said. “Most students come into spring break very sleep deprived. It’s a great time to catch up on rest and restore your body. That will put you in better shape for when you come back to school.” Also, don’t forget to stay hydrated and wear plenty of sunscreen, Klein said.

It is also important to know of any health issues related to the area you will be traveling in, Klein said. For instance, the Zika virus has become a major concern in the Caribbean and Latin America.

“One big concern I have this spring break is if students are travelling to places with the Zika virus,” Klein said. “It is very critical that people use insect repellent all the time, not just around dawn and nighttime.”

Vacation on a budget

Vacation can be expensive. Keeping a close eye on your funds before, during, and after your big trip will help your wallet in the long run. Phil Schuman, director of IU MoneySmarts, suggests that the best way to manage your finances over spring break is to think ahead.

“If you are planning on using a credit card, let your bank know before you leave,” Schuman said. “They might think someone stole your card information and is using it elsewhere.”

Schuman also advises students and staff to be wary about the amount of money brought on a trip. “Be safe when it comes to protecting your money,” Schuman said. “Don’t carry around wads of cash or do things that will make people think you have a lot of money on you.”

Setting a budget is another great way to manage your finances over spring break. Giving yourself a set amount of spending money can help reduce the final impact on your bank account.

“What I often hear is that students don’t have the money needed for their trip, so they just throw it on their credit card,” Schuman said. “This can result in even more of a financial burden once the trip is over. Instead, limit how much you spend over spring break by only using the cash you have on hand.”

Monitor your posts

Having a successful spring break means having no regrets. This includes not regretting the content you post on social media.

Anne Rowland, assistant director at the Career Development Center, has a reminder for spring break travelers: “What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas.”

“If your post doesn’t serve a purpose, then there’s no need to post it,” Rowland said. “If any part of your post may reflect negatively on your character, think twice about posting it.”

Your social media presence doesn’t just stop with what you post, but even carries over to the content of your friends, family and acquaintances.

“Be aware that any photos you’re going to be tagged in could come back to haunt you,” Rowland said. “You never know who your friends are connected to. You also never know who your future employer will be, so be careful how your social media pages represent you.”

Staying home? Be active!

For those staying in town this spring break, there are still plenty of activities to be involved in. With spring just around the corner, this is a great time to get a jumpstart on that spring cleaning. If housework isn’t up your alley, try giving back to the community by volunteering with a local organization. The Hoosier Alternative Break program provides many options for students looking to be active this spring break.

Remember, spring break is a time to relax and have fun. By following these health and safety tips, you can make your spring break one to remember.

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