With spring break right around the corner, every student’s brain is sure to be consumed with thoughts of their destination, drinks, and endless fun in the sun. But before you leave, take a few minutes to prepare yourself for some of spring breaks worst-case scenarios.
If you get arrested: The most important thing is to be respectful. In many countries if you’re polite, the officer will let you off with a warning. If you try to resist or yell, the officer can potentially charge you with more. If you’re taken in, immediately ask to place a phone call to the U.S embassy; foreign countries cannot refuse this request. The embassy cannot post bail but they’ll be able to appoint you a lawyer if necessary. Request a translator or English-speaking officer to explain the charges to you. Finally do not give the officers any information other than you’re name, date of birth and where you’re from. Officers in other countries often phrase questions to back you into a corner, ultimately setting you up to plead guilty.
If you get sick: Before you leave, check with your insurance company to see what their abroad policy is. If you’re not covered, don’t worry – many companies offer short-term travel insurance. Most hotels have on-call doctors, but if it’s an absolute emergency don’t wait and get yourself to the nearest hospital ASAP! Visit the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers at www.iamat.org for a list of English speaking doctors and physicians in over 140 countries. (FYI: Be advised that some countries like Mexico have seperate clinics for non-citizens, and tend to charge high prices.)
If you lose your passport: DO NOT LEAVE HOME BEFORE FIRST MAKING A COPY OF YOUR PASSPORT, DRIVER’S LICENSE, AND TRAVEL DOCUMENTS. If you do misplace it, or it gets stolen, you must immediately report it to the local police station as well as the nearest U.S Embassy (it’s always a good idea to register with them first as soon as you arrive). You’ll be instructed to complete a new passport application and then issued a temporary passport to continue your travels.
In addition to making copies of all your important documents, take time to do the same for you student I.D, medical prescriptions, insurance policy etc. It never hurts to be prepared and you’ll be thankful for the backups if you get into an unfortunate situation.
Spring breaks a time to relax and have fun so take full advantage of whatever adventure you’re embarking on. Just don’t lose sight of how quickly you can get yourself into a vulnerable spot. It’s easy to forget that your no longer in you’re campus bubble. Use your gut instincts. If something feels wrong or uncomfortable, don’t question it and get yourself out of the situation as quickly as possible.
— By Lauren Tousignant