Planning needed for spring break

Every year, college and high school students across the country feel a need to head south for Spring Break.

However, to have a safe and fun spring break there needs to be some planning, experts say.

The calendar tells us spring is just around the corner. And following a brutal winter season, college students and consumers alike will be looking forward to spring break getaways.

Before you make your escape, the Better Business Bureau Serving Wisconsin wants to make sure your trip isn’t ruined by the threat of scams.

“Spring break is an annual rite for many Wisconsinites looking to escape the cold and snow,” says Ran Hoth CEO/president of the BBB Serving Wisconsin. “The possibility of scams starts when you start planning your trip, and the BBB wants to remind you to proceed with caution before heading south.”

The BBB offers the following tips when planning a vacation.

– Book through a reliable travel agent.Check the agency’s report at BBB.ORG. or find a BBB Accredited Business. Accredited Businesses must adhere to the BBB’s 8 standards of trust, including advertise honestly, be transparent, and honor promises.

– Get details about your trip in writing. Be sure to confirm the details, such as total cost, any restrictions that apply, flights, hotel reservations, and car rental.

– Use a credit card as payment. Paying by credit card offers the most protection should something to wrong.

– Consider purchasing travel insurance. Travel insurance provides coverage for particular perils which are specific conditions under which it will pay claims. Be sure to shop around and read the terms and conditions before purchasing.

– Use caution when considering deals. If a deal or package offers a lot for a very low price, be wary. If something seems too good to be true, it usually is.

– Be wary of claims you “won” a trip. Generally if you’ve truly won something, it will be given to you as a gift. Be especially leary if the offer is unsolicited. Check on any offers with the Better Business Bureau.

According to the U.S. State Department, some 3 million Americans travel to Cancun, Mexico, each year, including as many as 100,000 American teens and young adults, during Spring Break.

U.S. citizens should take specific precautions when traveling abroad, particularly to Mexico, during the Spring Break period. The State Department warns of drug-related violence near the U.S. border.

– U.S. citizens should be very cautious in using ATMs in general in Mexico. If an ATM must be used, access it only during the business day at large protected facilities.

– Tourists should be wary of persons representing themselves as Mexican police or other local officials. Ask for the officer’s name, badge number, and patrol car number. You must have that information to pursue a complaint.

– Public transportation is a particularly popular place for pickpockets. Leave valuables in a safe place, or leave them at home.

– Alcohol is implicated in the majority of arrests, violent crimes, accidents and deaths involving American tourists in Cancun.

– Visitors should be careful when crossing streets in Cancun. Public transportation vehicles, specifically taxis and city buses, often do not obey the posted speed limits and do not stop at traffic lights.

– Warning flags on the beach should be taken seriously. If black flags are up, do not go in the water. There is often a very strong undertow along the beach, and minimal lifeguard supervision in most areas.

– Visitors to Mexican resorts should carefully assess the risk potential of recreational activities. Sports and aquatic rental equipment may not meet U.S. safety standards nor be covered by any accident insurance.