Spring Break for Smart Travelers
The U.S. Department of State has no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens traveling and residing abroad. This includes the tens of thousands of U.S. students who travel abroad every year for Spring Break.
Unfortunately, spring break travel can sometimes include unforeseen problems like a lost passport or a missed flight. Students may also encounter more serious problems, like arrest, injury, or even worse. That’s where the State Department can help, with a number of resources to aid in keeping students safe and connected to their families.
Smart travelers are safe travelers. Before they travel, we encourage students to learn as much as possible about their spring break destinations at our website dedicated to student travelers: studentsabroad.state.gov. Students can find out about entry requirements, crime, health precautions, and road conditions; and, if trouble does occur, contact information for U.S. embassies and consulates. Consular sections at these embassies and consulates provide a full range of services to U.S. citizens, from replacing lost or stolen passports to emergency services such as help in arranging medical evacuations, responding to arrests, and assistance in natural disasters.
Smart travelers stay connected. The State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) keeps students up-to-date with important safety and security announcements. Enrolling also helps the Department provide critical assistance in emergencies. To make it easier than ever to stay connected, the Bureau of Consular Affairs launched a mobile version of STEP that is accessible by students through their mobile devices. In the airport lounge, at the mall, even poolside at a hotel – students can enroll in STEP and update their travel plans to stay connected. The mobile version of STEP is also available through the popular SMART Traveler App, available through iTunes and the Android market.
For more information about tips for traveling abroad, please visit us on studentsabroad.state.gov.
Ministry of Tourism of The Bahamas
Over 200,000 U.S. citizen teenagers and young adults travel to The Bahamas for Spring Break each year. While the vast majority do so without incident, a small number of travelers are not so fortunate. Using common sense will help you avoid unpleasant and dangerous situations.
Nassau is a growing city with increasing crime. Most criminal incidents take place in a part of Nassau not usually frequented by tourists, but crime can occur anywhere. Reminders to Ensure a Safe Spring Break in The Bahamas. Drink Responsibly. Drinking, drug use and unruly behavior can lead to serious problems and possible arrest.
Excessive alcohol renders you more susceptible to crime. Drinking to excess can lead to impaired memory or unconsciousness, making crimes more difficult to accurately report.
Violent crimes such as rape often happen at night or in the early morning hours, and frequently involve alcohol and date-rape type drugs put into drinks in the club environment. Remain with known friends; most incidents of sexual assault reported to the U.S. Embassy involve persons the alleged victim encountered at a bar or nightclub and agreed to accompany elsewhere. Most reported tourist-upon-tourist crimes (including rapes) allegedly involve heavy drinking and a lack of memory of the facts
Do Not Purchase Drugs.
Drug dealers will often tell tourists that marijuana or other drugs are legal in The Bahamas. These drugs are not legal and could lead to arrest and imprisonment. The penalties for importation, purchase, possession or use of drugs are much greater than one expects in the U.S., and all persons 16 years of age or older are tried as adults.
Don’t Become a Victim of Theft.
Be aware of your surroundings, take appropriate precautions, and make smart decisions. Valuables should be left in a safe place or at home. Do not leave belongings unguarded on the beach while swimming. Passports and other valuables should be left in hotel safes. Keep a copy of your document with you in case you are requested to show ID. Walking at night on secluded beaches alone or in small groups is not advised.
Water Sports Safety
Regulations governing the water sports industry in The Bahamas are not strictly enforced. Unlicensed operators have been linked to assaults, and a number of Americans have been killed or injured by the improper use of jet-skis and other personal watercraft. Ask to see a copy of the operator’s business license, inquire about their insurance coverage and insist on training before using the equipment. Verify the number and location of life/safety equipment when renting or boarding a water craft.
Accidents in The Bahamas can result in difficult and expensive legal or medical situations. Verify now (BEFORE an accident) that your medical insurance covers you outside of the U.S. If you find yourself in trouble, contact the Tourist Police and the U.S. Embassy.
If you get arrested overseas, a consular official can visit you in prison, provide information about the Bahamian legal system, and furnish a list of Bahamian attorneys or doctors, among other assistance. The U.S. Embassy cannot arrange for your release from prison or pay medical and other bills.
Remember: Reckless behavior while in another country can do more than ruin your vacation; it can land you in a foreign jail or worse. It is possible to have a safe and fun trip if you avoid risky behavior and become familiar with the basic laws and customs of the country you plan to visit before you travel. To obtain more information about traveling abroad, check the Department of State’s web site.
For Additional Information
U.S. Embassy Nassau
American Citizen Services
Ministry of Tourism Bahamas
Visitor Relations Department
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Public Affairs
For Emergencies involving American Citizens, please call the U.S. Embassy at 242-322-1181 ext. 4406 or 4547 or 4584; after hours Duty Officer at 242-357-7004
Spring Break Reminders:
- It is mandatory that you wear a helmet while riding motor scooters/cycles.
- In The Bahamas, drive on the left.
- The possession, use or sale of drugs is illegal and subject to prosecution.
- Bathing suits are inappropriate wear on streets, in churches, restaurants, casinos, and other public places.
- To ensure a pleasant vacation, purchase of all tours and water sports should be conducted through a hotel tour desk, or your Social Director.