Making Spring Break safe and fun

Posted by
On March 21, 2023

Photo credit: Hassan ~ Pixabay

In mid-March, thousands of college students leave their schools to take a break from their studies. During a traditional Spring Break experience, students travel to warmer locations such as Florida and Texas to blow off steam and relax. Parents often worry about their students joining thousands of others in resort locations with little supervision. There are risks associated with attending Spring Break, but there are also ways to minimize the risks and anxiety.

Why do we have Spring Break?

There’s no single answer to this question. But giving students a mid-semester rest makes sense. Going to college is a full-time job with lots of overtime, and anyone with a job appreciates a break now and again. Spring Break helps re-energize the students and the faculty, so they can return to their work with renewed vigor and commitment.

Students who don’t participate in a traditional Spring Break sometimes have a case of FOMO—Fear Of Missing Out, and may feel they aren’t fully engaged in what college students have to do. Well, no they don’t, but for most students, some kind of Spring Break experience is here to stay.

What parents worry about (and others should).

We’ve seen the videos: college students going crazy on the beach, seemingly without morals, scruples or common sense. And whether we worry about alcohol poisoning, unprotected sex and STDs, or being a victim of a crime, as parents of college students, we worry. Let’s take a step back, though. This list of concerns isn’t much different from our concerns when they go to college in the first place. They are just exacerbated by Spring Break, when many more students—most of whom don’t know each other—are thrown together far away from adult supervision. So, if you’re concerned, I get it. And while I’m not trying to scare you, you’re probably thinking of these things anyway.

Making a plan

Addressing expectations about Spring Break between you and your student is key, including sharing your concerns and fears. They probably have them, too. This may not make your student choose not to travel for the break, but that’s your opening to talk about the downsides, and help them make decisions that will make their experience the safest it can be.

This means asking questions such as:

  • How will you and your friends keep each other safe?
  • What will you do if you are left at a bar?
  • If your roommate tried to drive after drinking, are you ready to take their keys?
  • Sure, you’re 21 and can drink legally, but you don’t have to, and do you really have to get drunk?
  • When will you say ‘enough,’ and walk away?

These are very much adult to adult conversations, not parent to child ones. When you have these conversations, you are communicating with your student as their senior consultant. This challenges them to consider and to make mature decisions that will keep them safe, and still have fun.

Step by Step

Smart Spring Break participants are aware of what’s happening around them. You know the drill: take note of who is around, and both women and men watching their drinks in case someone puts something into them. (Or, just drink bottled or canned drinks!) I also encourage students to walk in groups, and share a safe word that tells their friends that they need help. We also urge everyone to lock their hotel or motel room, and make sure everyone does it. Finally, agree that no one brings guests back to the room unless all agree (this is a tough one). Encourage your student to follow these and other simple guidelines to keep themselves safe.


Alternative Spring Breaks emerged some years ago as a way for students to get away for the break, enjoy themselves, and provide service as well. Alternative break experiences feature fulfilling and engaging work, and evenings of quieter enjoyment with like-minded people. There are national organizations and nonprofits that organize alternative Spring Breaks and many colleges offer their own programs. If your student is drawn to service activities such as building houses, clearing hiking trails, or providing direct services to the homeless, they should consider alternative Spring Break.

But these programs are not for everyone. For one thing, students usually have to pay to participate in alternative Spring Break. These costs cover food, lodging, and transportation to the service location, though the costs are often lower than for a traditional Spring Break experience. In addition, some students who are perfectly happy providing service at home might still miss the sun or relaxing time of a traditional Spring Break. But if your student says they want to get away with friends, but they’re really not “feeling” the traditional Spring Break experience, suggest that they consider an alternative program.

While all Spring Break options are here to stay—with all the fun and challenges they present—there are ways to make them safer and better for your student. But the first step in that process is a straight talk conversation. You can do it!


Author of Article: fjtalley. Article adapted from Please Note: Missouri S&T does not endorse or have a relationship with SOURCE and articles are provided for information purposes only. Missouri S&T and SOURCE do not assume responsibility for error or omission in materials.  

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On March 21, 2023. Posted in Parents and Family