Vacationing for spring break? Don’t forget these tips

UAB professors give three-point checklist to enjoy spring break fun.

Sunscreen? Check. Bathing suit? Check. Oversized, floppy sunhat that embarrasses the kids? Check.

Spring break can be a much needed get-away from life’s fast pace, and careful planning can ensure you leave many of your woes behind. Several University of Alabama at Birmingham professors offer suggestions for a safer spring excursion.

Keep these tips in mind:

Negotiate a deal: It’s not too late to check for cheap deals on hotel rooms and restaurants. No, really. “There are properties that still have vacancies, and they cannot tolerate another bad year,” says Bob Robicheaux, Ph.D., Department of Marketing, Economics and Quantitative Methods. “They’d rather get something for a room than nothing, and now is the time to make a call and say, ‘What if I offer you this?’”

Keep that bottled water close: On the beach there are usually fruit-flavored alcoholic drinks, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that’s all you need.

“You are out in the hot sun, sweating and enjoying the heat. You may have a glass of wine or a cocktail. And you may be more dehydrated than you may realize, so it’s important to have water on hand,” says Adam Robinett, M.D., Department of Emergency Medicine. Keep that bottle nearby, he says; nothing replaces water.

 Have a chat with your vacationing teen: Your teen has spring fever. But before you let them head out the door to party for a week with their friends, have a heart-to-heart conversation to find out their motivations, says child psychologist Vivian Friedman, Ph.D., Department of Psychology. “Parents have to think very carefully about the maturity level of their child,” Friedman says. “If they are already into drugs and alcohol, it may not be a good idea to let them go.”

The disappearance of Birmingham teen Natalee Holloway during a school trip in 2005 served as a cautionary tale for parents everywhere, she says. “Even if your child is responsible, there are situations that can arise where someone slips a drug in your drink and other things that are beyond your control. You need to teach your child to be careful.”

As a parent, you know your child and whether or not he and she can handle the freedoms and vulnerabilities a trip away can present, Friedman says. Make an informed decision, even if that means saying, “You can’t go."