SOURCE: Europ Assistance USA

February 27, 2008 09:44 ET

Europ Assistance USA Says Avoid Being a Spring Break Cliché

Travel Tips Help Ensure Smart, Safe and Healthy Trips

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - February 27, 2008) - Every year, millions of students participate in the annual rite of passage that is spring break. However, each year more families, young professionals, and other travelers join coeds in ditching the dreary days of winter for a week of fun in the sun, a cross-country road trip or giving their time on community service-based trips. As Americans prepare for their travels, Europ Assistance USA, the professional ally for people in crisis or distress, offers the following tips to ensure smooth spring break trips.

1. Do your Homework. Find out whether you will need to have a passport or visa to travel to your destination. The U.S. Department of State website (http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/safety/safety_2836.html) provides this information. Get background information about where you are going by visiting the CIA Factbook site (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html), which features overviews of the history, climate, political situation, demographics and industries of countries around the world.

2. It's All About the Benjamins. Read up on exchange rates and make sure you know how much you are really paying for your purchases. Contact your bank and credit card companies with your itinerary so they know to authorize payments. You may also want to ask them about ATMs and getting the best exchange rates.

3. Get to Know the Phone. Learn how to make phone calls from your destination, whether you are in an emergency or just to check back with friends and family at home.

4. Share Your Plan. Make sure to leave copies of your itineraries and passports with family members at home. If you should lose your passport or luggage, having additional copies of these important documents can help you get out of a jam.

5. Lock it Up. Once at your destination, make sure to secure your personal documents. Take advantage of in-room or front-desk safes by locking up passports, credit cards, and other important documents and valuable.

6. Speak the Language. If you have food allergies, be sure to write down how to say those foods in the language spoken in the country you are visiting. It is amazing how people can communicate without speaking the same language, but if your throat swells after eating shellfish, you may want to learn how to say shrimp in Spanish.

7. Empty Your Wallet. Avoid carrying excessive amounts of money and multiple credit cards and make sure to have a back-up credit card. If you become a victim of theft or lose your card, you won't be stuck without money. When you return home, make sure to check your statements to ensure safe transactions occurred.

8. Get Covered. Check with your health insurance company to see what medical coverage you have in your destination country. Make sure to get the necessary vaccinations if there are country specific health warnings where you are visiting. Avoid illness by visiting your health care provider 4-6 weeks ahead of time, following his or her recommendations for preparation and treatment in the case of sickness.

9. Look both ways: Too many spring breakers are hurt or injured each year while vacationing. Make sure to set and follow personal rules for safety: always travel with at least one other person, limit exposure of valuables including jewelry, avoid excessive drinking, and beware of unmarked taxis or other public transportation.

10. Behave Yourself. For Real. Respect local customs, establishments and people and remember that spring break is an excuse to relax, not to act inappropriate. Many countries have different laws regarding public safety, water safety, and violations of law, so make sure you know these rules before visiting. If you find yourself in trouble, contact the closest U.S. Consulate.

"Expect the unexpected couldn't ring more true when it comes to travel, especially during spring break when spirits are high and often carefree," said Europ Assistance CEO Guillaume Deybach. "Lost passports, sudden illness, or unforeseen expenses can turn a dream vacation south. By taking precautions to ensure our safety and well-being we can, perhaps, achieve peace of mind when it's most desired."

About Europ Assistance USA

Europ Assistance USA, headquartered in Washington, DC, is a part of the multinational Europ Assistance Group and its network of 71 companies, 5,000 employees and more than 850,000 service providers and medical personnel offering assistance services in 208 countries and territories around the globe. For close to half a century, the group has tailored solutions for assisting people wherever they may be and helping them respond to the unexpected throughout their daily lives. Services include emergency medical transportation, medical referrals, case monitoring claims management, identity theft resolution and data breach response services. Twenty-four hours a day at 34 assistance centers worldwide, multilingual assistance coordinators answer more than two calls per second and handle one assistance case every two seconds. www.europassistance-usa.com

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