Mention Spring Break to most parents and immediate visions of lawless partying comes to mind. I get it. I grew up in Fort Lauderdale, the original Spring Break destination. As a high school student, my friends and I would drive up and down “The Strip” watching all of the college kids dancing, sunbathing and letting loose. When we were finally in college, we spent our days at the beach and our nights on The Strip.
Spring Break is March 2nd through March 10th. While we parents are looking forward to some time with our students, they may have other plans. Just thought I would give you the heads up. It is not uncommon for students to go away with their friends for Spring Break. For those of you who have students living on-campus, dorms do stay open during Spring Break. Parking is lifted for certain lots. Click here for which areas have lifted restrictions.
Like myself, mention Spring Break to other parents and you are bound to get arguments from both sides; parents who would not allow their kids to go off to a spring break destination in the States (think Panama City, Key West, Daytona Beach, South Padre Island) let alone a foreign country (Bahamas, Bimini, Dominican Republic, a cruise to almost any warm weather climate) and parents who remember their Spring Breaks (well maybe not all actually remember their spring break) and want their kids to have the freedom to enjoy the same experience. Last year, my daughter brought up going to Bimini on Spring Break in November. Some students will sign up with a Spring Break company that the group they want to go with is using.
For those of you who have students that are looking for an alternative, UF has trips that students can sign up for and volunteer. UF has a program called Florida Alternative Breaks (FAB) and trip places an emphasis on education, service, and reflection in a location outside of Gainesville. You can register and learn more here.
Because I grew up in a Spring Break destination and saw the way kids behaved (or did not behave), it made me somewhat nervous to see my daughter heading off. But, a part of me also recognized that she was a legal adult and did not necessarily need my permission. Her going away will come with non-negotiable agreements between us and advice for parents. It is the same guidance I gave her when she left for college.
- Never, ever go off with anyone other than friends and never, ever let a friend go off with someone they do not know. I gave that same advice to her sister even going so far as to say “I don’t care if it is Joe Jonas (fill in your student’s famous love interest here); you do not go off with anyone. I had to trust that she understood the seriousness of my words.
- Never accept a drink from anyone- again, this is a safety tip she has heard even when she goes out in our hometown.
- Check in with a text daily. I do not need to speak to her on the phone; I just want a text saying, I am okay.
- Be aware of laws (open container, alcohol restrictions on beaches, etc).
Those are my hard fast rules for when she leaves. Now for the parents, if you do have a student going off with friends for Spring Break.
- If they will be traveling out of the country, make sure you add an international phone plan to their number.
- If they have a credit card, make sure you let the credit card company know they will be out of the country so they are able to use the card.
- Make sure you have their friends’ phone numbers just in case you need to reach them (or do not hear from them). Maybe it dropped in the pool or ocean or they lost it on the beach. This will allow you a back- up option.
- Following that same thought, make sure you have their friends’ parents’ numbers as well in case you need to get in touch with them.
- Activate the Find My Friends app so if you need the peace of mind to know where they are located, you will be able to find them. This is non-negotiable for my daughter and me.
- Make sure your passport is valid as well. Again, if an emergency arises, you will need a valid passport to travel out of the country.Spring Break is sort of a rite of passage. Let’s face it, in just a very short few years they will (hopefully) be out in the working world and vacations will take on a whole new look for them.