Spring break can be nightmare for unwary travelers abroad

Kay-Kay Davis, Staff Writer

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It’s spring break and you’re in the hottest night club in Europe, so of course you’re partying like there’s no tomorrow. The drinks are going down all to smooth, you’re dancing like you’ve never danced before, and marijuana is legal here, right.

It’s the best spring break ever… until bam you’re in handcuffs and on your way to jail.

This is an all too often occurrence for American college students traveling abroad on spring break. And most of the time it’s simply because they are unaware of the laws and culture of the country they are visiting. Or sometimes students believe that they are immune from prosecution in foreign countries, or that American authorities will come to their rescue. But that just isn’t the case. The United States Consular cannot get anyone out of jail.

According to the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs every year more than 2,500 American citizens are arrested abroad because of alcohol, drugs and disruptive behavior. College students have been arrested for underage drinking, public intoxication, drunk driving and possession.

However, being arrested is not the only bad thing that could happen while traveling abroad. Sadly many Americans have been robbed or raped in foreign countries because they were unaware of their surroundings or their judgment was impaired by alcohol or drugs.

There are ways to avoid being arrested or attacked while traveling abroad or in the United States. All you have to do is read the following tips issued by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs and follow them. Then hopefully you will be able to have a fun and safe vacation.

There are a few things that you can do before you ever leave for you vacation. You should learn about the country or countries you are planning on visiting. Read the Consular Information Sheet, it will inform you of the country’s laws and regulations. You can find this sheet along with any other information you may need on the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://trave;.state.gov/student info.html. Items such as what is the legal drinking age and what drugs are legal. Check for travel warnings that have been issued by the United States about certain countries. Find out where the nearest US Embassy is. And leave an itinerary with your friends and family, also make sure you have an up to date passport.

After you arrive at your destination never leave your luggage unattended. And don’t take anything from strangers, like packages. Also, do not use illicit drugs or drink excessively.

“If you’re going to drink, drink responsibly,” said Tammy Arnold, R.N., Student Health Services. “Your body can only absorb one alcoholic drink per hour, so you should eat frequently or alternate alcoholic drinks with nonalcoholic drinks.”

You shouldn’t wear conspicuous clothes or expensive jewelry. Never carry large sums of money or excessive credit cards. Only carry what you need. Also always exchange money with an authorized agent not people on the streets. And remember the United States Consular cannot get you out of jail, so act appropriately.

If you are a woman traveling alone there are some more simple tips you should follow, and it wouldn’t hurt for the men to follow these tips as well. Never announce that you are traveling alone. Make sure that your hotel has good security and transportation, and always get directions before you leave the hotel.

“If you go to a party or club don’t leave your drink unattended, even a coke,” said Arnold. “Don’t drink out of an open container, like a punch bowl. If you do leave your drink discard it and get another one.”

Remember acting crazy and reckless while traveling abroad won’t only land you a good time, it could also land you in jail. So follow these tips, and have a fun and safe trip. Remember you want to make memories you can come home and tell you friends about, not your cell mate.