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Every spring, thousands of high school and college students pack their bags for a much break from classes, endless essays, mid-term exams, and all the stress built up by hectic schedules. Some will stay in the U.S hitting places such as Florida, Texas, or the Gulf Shores; others will leave the country for places like Mexico or go on a Caribbean cruise.

While it is a time for fun and relaxation, it’s no secret that spring break has also become notorious for drinking and risky behavior. After all, for thousands of students this freedom from school and parental control. I would tell you not to engage in such behavior; some of you might even listen, but that would be a ridiculous assumption on my part. But, I can tell you that when you pack the swim wear, sunscreen, credit cards and cash, don’t forget the most important item to take along – common sense.

Here are a number of tips to help you stay safe during spring break:

  • If you do decide to drink, know the liquor laws of wherever you’ll be vacationing.
  • Always watch your drink to avoid someone slipping something into your beverage. Do not drink from open sources (i.e punch bowl, pitcher). Know where you drink came from and what’s in it.
  • Have a designated driver, use recommended shuttle services or buses and reputable, licensed taxi services.
  • Eat substantive food before drinking. Drinking on an empty stomach can cause the effects of alcohol to take place quicker.
  • Make sure to pace yourself while drinking, and to also continue to drink water to avoid dehydration. Don’t get in a state of mind that impairs your ability to make smart decisions and think clearly.
  • Stay close to together with a group of friends. Never go off to secluded areas alone.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Stay in well-traveled areas. Do not wander far from your hotel or resort. If you feel like something is amiss, trust your instincts.
  • Always have your cell phone on you.
  • Let your parent, roommate, friend or somebody else know when you plan on leaving and arriving.
  • Think water safety. Stay within the designated swimming areas and always swim with a friend. Never drink and get in the water.
  • Educate yourself about local customs if you travel out of the country. Be sure to follow local laws. No one wants to be stuck in a jail in Mexico.
  • Put all your valuables in the room safe. (extra cash, credit cards, etc.). Keep copies of personal information hidden in your luggage. Make copies of your itinerary and important documents (passport credit cards, etc.) to be left at home with a loved one, just in case.

While it is unlikely that alcohol will be taken out of the spring break equation anytime soon, with these simple safety tips young adults can have a fun and memorable get-away and parents can sleep a little easier. Don’t become another tragic untold story like Natalee Holloway.

Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.

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