"Spring Break." These two words conjure visions of sandy beaches, hordes of students, suntan lotion, bikinis, fun in the sun and relaxation. High school and college students from around the country wait all year for the annual migration south to party with their peers.
There are hundreds of Spring Break Web sites. Most are trying to sell a package deal, and many are designed to take advantage of students ready to party. The bottom line is be careful! Students are easy targets for Spring Break scams.
Consult with a reputable travel agent. Ask him/her to evaluate the tour/package you've found.
Ask the tour operator for phone numbers of former clients. Then call and confirm that they had a positive experience. Consider it a warning if the company denies this request.
Request all details of the trip in writing. Ask them to spell out the exact and final costs, restrictions, cancellation penalties, and the exact names of hotels and airlines.
Confirm charter flights with the US Department of Transportation.
Never give credit card information over the phone to a company or person that you are not familiar with.
Confirm that the tour operator belongs to a professional trade association that offers a consumer protection plan.
Avoid booking through student representatives.
Do a little exploring on the Web before you choose a destination. It is a great idea to familiarize yourself with your options - even if you just check the weather reports. Popular destinations include:
For links to beaches throughout the world, visit Beachcomber. With the click of the mouse, you can virtually visit beaches in California, Florida, Hawaii and more. To protect your skin while you're there, visit Coppertone.
Not sure what you're getting yourself into? Musarium offers a photographic journal of Spring Breaks past.
And, finally, for those who would rather spend their free time helping others, there are several sites that provide information on volunteer vacations. Alternative Spring Break is just one of the many productive ways to spend your holiday.