Cameron Students posing for a picture on Campus

Spring Break Travel Tips

Spring break is upon us, and that means many of you may be traveling. Here is important information you should know, whether you are leaving the country, going across the U.S., or just staying close to home.

IF YOU ARE CONSIDERING TRAVELING DURING SPRING BREAK

Traveling domestically or to an international destination carries some risk. To help inform you of warnings concerning your personal well-being while traveling, we recommend the following resources and tips to protect yourself during spring break, which occurs from March 13-17, 2023.

As in 2022, the concern remains about the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and its variants. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers the following tips for a safe and healthy spring break protect yourself and others from COVID-19 and its variants:

  • Stay up to date with your COVID-19 vaccination, as well as all routine vaccines.
  • Check the travel requirements and recommendations for your spring break destination.
    • Check the CDC’s webpage for your destination to see what destination-specific vaccines or medicines you may need and what diseases or health risks are a concern there.
    • If you are traveling internationally, please visit the CDC's International Travel to and from the United States for international travel requirements and recommendations.
    • If you are traveling domestically, please visit the CDC's Domestic Travel During COVID-19 for domestic travel requirements and recommendations.
  • Visit your healthcare provider.
  • Plan for unexpected issues.
  • Protect yourself during travel.
    • Do not travel if you are sick, tested positive for COVID-19, are waiting for results of a COVID-19 test, or had close contact with a person with COVID-19 and are recommended to quarantine. Learn more about what the CDC has to say about when to avoid travel.

POTENTIAL HEALTH HAZARDS AT HOME AND ABROAD

  • COVID-19: The Centers for Disease Control is conducting an ongoing assessment of risks associated with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Please note that the COVID-19 variants present a variety of issues that impact individuals differently. Make yourself aware of the local impact to your destination before traveling. Additionally, some countries have implemented testing and quarantine restrictions for travelers.
  • There are reported outbreaks of diseases around the globe that range from yellow fever, Zika and monkeypox, to dengue, polio, malaria and rabies. Check the CDC website for current travel notices on these and other illness outbreaks worldwide.
  • Currently, there are 19 countries that have a Level 4 Travel Advisory [Do not travel]. All travel advisories can be found by visiting the U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs site. Travel advisory updates are available in many ways. To stay connected, please visit https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/before-you-go/about-our-new-products/staying-connected.html to learn about the different options. 

Wherever you travel, make sure your vaccinations are up to date. Travelers should always wash their hands often with soap and water and avoid contact with animals or people that may be sick. Just as importantly, if you experience any symptoms when you return, contact your primary care physician, the Comanche County Health Department – or if you are a student, the Cameron University Wellness Center. Students and employees are strongly encouraged to remain home and fill out a COVID-19 notification form if symptomatic. DO NOT be afraid to report it and then take advantage of available local resources to get tested.

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS LEAVING THE U.S.

To travel outside the United States, an international student must have a valid passport, a visa, and a Form I-20 endorsed for travel and signed in the last 12 months by a Principal/Designated School Official. It is also recommended that you travel with your transcript. Transcripts can be obtained from the Registrar’s Office in North Shepler 201. Please remember that it is a Customs and Border Protection officers’ decision to admit immigrants and non-immigrants into the U.S. Students are advised to visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website for additional information. As you travel, please be aware of secondary inspection, a process that allows inspectors to conduct additional research to verify information. The Department of Homeland Security recommends traveling with the name and contact information of your Designated School Official. For Cameron University, that is:

Please notify International Student Services of your travel dates and destinations, or contact the office if you need further information. The U.S. State Department has the most up-to-date information regarding travel.

TIPS FOR EVERYONE TRAVELING NEAR OR FAR


Documents:

  • Plan ahead. Leave a copy of credit cards, driver's license/passport and trip itinerary with family and/or emergency points of contact.
  • Take contact information during international travel. Keep with you contact information of the U.S. Embassy in that country.
  • Keep travel documents – including your COVID vaccination card – and an ID with you at all times.

Travel:

  • Enroll in Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). By registering your trip with the U.S. State department you will be provided with updates on safety, Embassy assistance and emergency contact.
  • Know the laws and cultures of your destination. Respect local authorities and hotel staff.
  • Be vigilant of identity theft, especially if traveling abroad. Do not charge electronic devices from USB ports on computers to reduce risk of theft of personal information; charge only in electrical outlets.
  • Carry your hotel address with you.
  • Carry enough local currency for transportation.
  • Practice safe driving. Stay attuned to signs of fatigue, switch drivers often, take breaks, avoid cell phone use and do not consume anything that would impair your ability to drive.

Safety:

  • Don't go anywhere alone. Have friends with you at all times.
  • Trust your instincts. If a situation seems unsafe or you feel uneasy, leave immediately. Stay in well-lighted areas frequented by tourists, secure your valuables and keep an eye on your belongings.
  • Communicate. Check in with family periodically and discuss safety with friends. Tell someone where you are going (even if it is just to the bathroom), and take a friend with you whenever possible. Check in with family to let them know that you are safe and to tell them if you are planning any big excursions.
  • Practice taxi safety. It’s always better to call a cab than to hail one. When the taxi, Uber or Lyft driver arrives, check their credentials. Taxi drivers should have them displayed, and verify that a Uber or Lyft driver’s photo and car matches what you see on the app. Don’t ride alone if at all possible. Follow along with a map on your phone to make sure you are headed in the right direction. If at any moment you do not feel safe, wait until the car comes to a stop, leave money on the seat, and get out of the vehicle.
  • Alcohol/Substance Consumption. Know the laws regarding possession of alcoholic beverages and drugs. Do not get involved in illegal drugs; the penalty in some countries is death. If you are of legal drinking age and choose to drink, drink in moderation. Keep your drink in sight at all times. Leaving it unattended gives anyone the opportunity to “slip” something into your drink – acid, “roofies,” or other dangerous substances. DO NOT DRIVE AFTER DRINKING. Use a designated driver or choose public transportation. Should members of your group become intoxicated, never leave them alone. If they pass out, make sure they sleep on their side to prevent choking, and if their level of consciousness is too low to get a response, call 911 or the local emergency number. Drinking makes it easier for a person to become either the victim or the perpetrator of a sexual assault.
  • Require Consent. If you choose to engage in sex, take every precaution against sexually transmitted diseases. Always use protection. Condoms can be obtained free of charge at the Student Wellness Center. Check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for STD information for the area you are traveling. It doesn’t matter if you have been intimate with someone before, or what you may be feeling for someone. Before you engage in sexual activity, you must make sure the other person is comfortable and agrees with your intentions. Consent must be verbal and definitive before it is okay to proceed. On the other hand, you should say no if a situation doesn’t feel right. Say yes only if it does. Ask and listen with ultimate respect.
  • Protect yourself. Wear sunscreen and mosquito repellent, and stay hydrated. Swim safely if you plan on venturing out into the ocean.

Electronics/ Social Media:

  • Don’t bring more technology than you have to. Do you really need to bring your laptop, tablet, and smartphone on your beach vacation? The more devices you bring, the more chances for someone to steal or compromise your device and your personal data.
  • Backup your data. No matter what devices you decide to bring, make sure you back them up before you leave. You don’t know what will happen on your trip, don’t risk your data.
  • Share when you get home. It’s tempting to share that family picture with Mickey, but it could alert thieves that you aren’t home. Wait until you return home before you share your vacation pictures online.
  • Review your privacy settings. Just because you aren’t sharing anything from your spring break on social media, doesn’t mean that your friends aren’t. Check up on your privacy settings so you can manage who sees your content, and as best as possible, what others say about you. That embarrassing video of your belly flop doesn’t need to be seen by everyone.
  • Be careful when using public Wi-Fi. Don’t log on to bank/credit card sites or shop online when using a public Internet connection. You don’t know who else is on your network
  • Protect your location on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare etc. Think twice before sharing every detail of your spring break on social media. Before leaving for your trip, review your security settings to ensure that information you post to social media is as private as possible. However, even with strict security settings, be aware that posting information about your whereabouts or activities can still reveal details that are accessible to the public. Use your best judgment when “checking-in” on Facebook or Foursquare and geo-tagging images you post to Instagram. Be cautious of revealing personal information through status updates or tweets with Twitter trends like #SpringBreak and #SB2013.
  • Use your cell phone as a tool. If you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, shoot a quick text for a "friend-assist." Make a back-up plan before you go out just in case your phone dies. If you are traveling internationally, buy a pay-as-you-go phone or contact your cell phone provider to activate international coverage during your trip

Health:

  • Visit the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) Travelers’ Health before your trip so that you can learn about any potential health risks that exist at your destination and schedule appointments to get the necessary vaccinations and medicines.
  • Consider investing in travel health insurance. This type of health insurance protects travelers abroad with international health insurance plans.
  • If you are on prescription medications, check the CDC website to see if they are allowed in the country where you will be visiting. Be sure to pack enough of your prescription to last you the entirety of your trip.
  • Check to see what the sanitation standards are in the country where you will be visiting. Only drink water that you know is clean. If you are unsure about the water conditions, only drink water that is bottled and sealed, or boiled.
  • If you are not feeling well upon your return, please contact the Cameron University Wellness Center and schedule an appointment. 

Secure your Residence

Whether you live on-campus or off-campus, make sure you secure your room, apartment or house. Other important steps to take before you leave:

  • Unplug all appliances
  • Hide or relocate valuables and move expensive items away from windows
  • Secure any non-perishable food in airtight containers or cabinets; discard any perishable food from your refrigerator
  • Empty all trash; if you live off campus, secure your trash and recycling containers
  • Check all water faucets to make sure they are completely off
  • Set your thermostat for 50-55 degrees
  • If you have a hidden spare key outside of your residence, make sure you remove it
  • Make sure all doors and windows are shut and locked

Everyone at the university wants you – whether student or employee – to have a fun spring break and be ready to return to Cameron for a great end to the spring semester. Be safe!