- Have “The Talk.”
Let your kids know that you don’t have anything against them enjoying themselves, but that you want them to be smart about it. Be upfront: Tell them what you’re afraid of, whether it’s date-rape drugs in their drinks or, two months from now, seeing a video for sale on late-night TV documenting their “gone wild” exploits.
Encourage moderation and common sense when it comes to accepting party invitations from strangers, relationships with the opposite sex, and indulging in those tropical drinks with the tiny umbrellas.
- Encourage precautions against sticky fingers. Young American tourists can make ideal targets for a thief, especially when they’re preoccupied with parties, getting a tan, or bouncing from club to club. Recommend to your kids that they leave their expensive jewelry and electronics at home, avoid walking around with too much cash (or use a money belt to carry it), and keep close tabs on their credit cards and identification, whatever they’re doing.Encourage them to take at least two forms of picture ID with them, especially if they’re traveling outside the U.S. — one ID to keep on them, another to keep in the hotel safe or under lock and key wherever they happen to be staying. That way, if one ID gets stolen or lost, they still have a backup.
- Plan for emergencies. Give your kids a list of emergency numbers to keep on them, so if anything happens, their friends or the authorities will know whom to call. Make sure you get a copy of their itinerary, including flight numbers, accommodations, and the names and contact info for everyone they’ll be traveling with. If they’re taking a road trip, get a license plate, car description, and the driver’s license numbers of anyone who’s driving.If your kids will be going outside the U.S., find out whether their health insurance will cover them internationally. If your kids’ health coverage doesn’t extend to another country, you can shop for short-term travel health insurance plans on sites like InsureMyTrip.com and HTH Worldwide — so you can make sure your kids are covered … just in case.
- Propose an alternative. If you just can’t get comfortable with the idea of your kids partying it up on Padre Island or joining the anything-goes crowds in Cancún, see if they’re open to an alternative spring break. Organizations from MTV to the United Way offer alternative spring break destinations that allow students to spend their time off helping others or the environment through community service.
- Have “The Talk.”