As spring break season approaches, high school and college students in Arizona usually have just one thing on their minds – time to hit the beach! Whether the destination is San Diego, where many high schoolers head, or Mexico, a common spot for the college crowd, there are safety issues to talk about with older kids before they jump in that car or head to the airport.
If traveling by car, find out who will be doing the driving, and how much experience they have on long road trips. If a parent is not in a vehicle with your child, have you discussed distracted driving issues, and basic car maintenance, like changing a tire? If flying is involved, does your student have experience using taxis and/or ride sharing, like Uber or Lyft? If traveling to Mexico or a different foreign country, do they know the best places to exchange money?
Cramming a bunch of kids into a condo, rental house or hotel room is the norm for saving money on spring break. High school kids have been known to tell parents that an adult will be staying with them, when that may not actually be the case, so double check with the supposed chaperones. If hotel personnel discover more people staying in a room than are allowed, does your kid have a back-up plan?
Would your child know where to go if they experienced a non-life-threatening illness or accident? Be sure that they travel with their medical insurance card, and if they take any OTC or prescription medication, that it is in its original, labeled container. In addition to your own family’s rules, be sure that you have discussed the legal consequences of underage drinking and drug use, especially if they will be outside of the U.S.
If your student is headed to any foreign country, be sure that they check the current travel advisories on the U.S. Department of State’s website, and that they enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive alerts, and to be more easily located during any potential emergency. ( https://step.state.gov/ )
Lastly, as the parent of a college student who has done quite a bit of international travel in the past year, I highly recommend sharing locations with your child via an app like Find Friends or Life 360 while they are away. Assure them that this is strictly for your peace of mind, and not to stalk their every move.
Here’s to fun and safe spring break adventures – be sure they pack the sunscreen!