Spring Break is just around the corner, and while many students will opt to head to the beach for a week of sun and fun, many others are taking on new adventures this spring, according to ASTA's recent series of Spring Break tips for consumers.
"Regardless of the type of vacation or the destination, ASTA has some tips and suggestions for making sure that Spring Break is memorable for all the right reasons," ASTA said.
"The beach has always been and will always be a favorite for Spring Break travel," said Chris Russo, ASTA president and chair. "But increasingly, today’s students are looking for a more meaningful experience, so whether they are volunteering or heading off-the-beaten path, we want to make sure that all students are prepared and have a positive experience. Working with a travel agent who understands today’s youth and student market is just one step toward making sure Spring Break doesn’t turn into 'Spring Broke'"
Mimi Cassidy, a special event travel specialist for Moraga Travel (Moraga, Calif.) and a member of ASTA’s Young Professional Society (YPS), recently arranged something a little different for a group of six college students. Active in drama and improv comedy shows, the students were looking to incorporate their favorite pastime into their Spring Break. Cassidy put together a five-night custom itinerary that took the group to Vancouver for sightseeing and front-row seats to some of the city’s best-known comedy venues — and all on a student’s budget.
Eduardo Madrid, commercial director for Doublee (Barcelona, Spain) and also an ASTA YPS member, has arranged everything from paintball and indoor Grand Prix karting to tickets to FC Barcelona matches and helicopter flights for students who venture overseas for Spring Break. For those with a less adventurous streak, he has arranged flamenco and cooking lessons, tapas tours and balloon rides.
Regardless of the trip, ASTA recommends students and parents know the following things before traveling. ASTA’s suggestions:
• Do your homework. Some offers might sound great on the surface, but be sure to read the fine-print.
• Run a “background check.” Vet the companies from which you purchase travel services. You can do this by searching for the company on the Better Business Bureau’s Web site or by checking to see if they are members of ASTA. Other sites to check are www.complaintsboard.com and www.ripoffreport.com.
• Protect yourself. Always pay with a credit card if possible. Even legitimate companies can go out of business. Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, credit card customers have the right to refuse paying for charges for services not rendered. Details of the Fair Credit Billing Act can be found at the Federal Trade Commission's Web site.
• Learn the law. Before leaving home, make sure you learn about the local laws and customs of the countries you are visiting, especially rules pertaining to drinking ages, drugs and curfews.
• Constant contact. Give parents/guardians the address and phone numbers of the hotel where you are staying, relevant cell phone numbers and a full trip itinerary. If anything changes, e-mail or text your parents immediately.
• Leave the bling behind. It’s best to avoid flashy accessories, and don’t draw attention to yourself. Leave the good jewelry or anything you really care about at home. Bringing a camera or an iPod? Do not flaunt it—you’ll be a walking target for thieves.
• Keep your bearings. When arriving at the hotel, grab a card from the counter with the hotel’s name, address and phone number on it and keep this card with you at all times.
• Respect. Be respectful when visiting churches, mosques, temples, synagogues, government buildings and military installations.
To find a travel agent who specializes in student travel or to learn more on student travel, ASTA urges travelers go to www.TravelSense.org and the Find a Travel Agent search directory.