Spring Break and Travel Advisories – What Can You Do if They Overlap?

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You’ve probably seen recent news stories about Americans being the victims of serious crimes on a couple of Caribbean islands. Currently the U.S. Department of State has travel warnings out for two prime locations for spring break revelers: The Bahamas (level 2) and Jamaica (level 3). For a full list of travel advisories worldwide visit their website

Travel advisory levels

(Department of State Travel Advisories Image)

What does this mean if you’ve already booked your tickets to one of these destinations? You likely will not be able to get a refund for your airfare or resort just because of the advisories. So, what can you do? Joe Reise, Motivation Excellence Director, Travel Purchasing, Planning and Supplier Relations, shares several tips to travel safely no matter the location.

“When traveling alone without the assistance of a professional travel staff like we provide for our incentive travel groups, arming yourself and people back home with important information is key,” Reise says. “Share your itinerary, flight numbers, hotel address and phone number, with someone you trust who is not traveling with you.”

Planning Stage

Reise has a few other recommendations for travelers as they’re planning their journey. 

  • Buy travel insurance. We recommend Travelex. This will give you better refund options if you cancel your trip for whatever reason.
  • Register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. This is a free service that alerts the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate of your travel plans. In return, it gives them the ability to contact you in case of emergency. 
  • Save the Department of State overseas contact number in case of trouble: 202.501.4444. They can assist in getting you to the proper resources for help. 

Leading Up to Travel 

As you get closer to your departure date, you can do some research to help ensure a smoother transition from everyday life to vacation life. Reise says it’s not very time-consuming and will really help if you run into unexpected situations. 

  • Use Google maps to get familiar with the area around where you are staying. Look for the nearest police station and medical facility. Are there any landmarks near your hotel that will help you navigate back there if you get lost?
  • Save the contact information for the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Officers are available 24/7 for emergency assistance. 
  • Know the reputable taxi and rideshare companies for your location. Tripadvisor, Fodors, and other travel websites often have location-specific articles you can search for online.

Enjoying Vacation Time

There’s nothing quite like that first day of vacation to put you in a relaxed state. Reise says relaxing is great, but for maximum quality time, take some simple precautions. 

  • Watch what you drink. Know if the local water is OK. NEVER leave your drink unattended. Don’t overdrink alcohol.
  • Pay attention as you travel from your resort into town. Look for those landmarks you spotted on Google maps. Travel in pairs, or more, when you can. Only take reputable transportation. 
  • Have your resort name and address written down on a card when you leave the property.
  • Memorize or write down key phrases in the local language like:
    • I’m lost.
    • Please help me. 
    • Do you speak English?
    • I need a doctor.
  • Designate a meeting spot if people get separated.

Whether you’re heading out on spring break soon, or looking to travel later in the year, proper planning before you go and simple precautions on-site will make your adventure safer to take and easier to enjoy. Happy travels!

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