Now for a change, a light-hearted post…
With all of the Throw Back Thursday posts bringing back memories, I decided to take a trip down memory lane in two directions. When I was a reporter at the Belleville News-Democrat, I served as a member of the young adults committee to find new ways to engage younger generations to pick up the newspaper. One of our special sections was about Spring Break. I chose to write “10 Survival Tips for Spring Break,” based on the spring break trip I took to Daytona Beach my senior year of college in (gulp!) 1999 with three other girlfriends (Tina, Sparks, Amanda) and three guy friends (Bart, Brent, Mo).
I used to jokingly refer to it as “Real World: Spring Break — Seven people picked to stay in one hotel room for seven days. Find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real.” And oh crap, did things get real.
But I find it hard to believe that our trip was not like countless others who choose random friends, acquaintances, sorority sisters, fraternity brothers, etc. to go on spring break without any inkling of how that week could turn out.
For us, those seven days in Daytona Beach had its ups and downs, twists and turns and absolute complete insanity. But what vacation wouldn’t when you put seven relative strangers together in one small hotel room, especially when all four age levels of college also were represented in one room too. The memories from that trip are still as vivid as the colors of the oceans in the morning hours as we walked the beach and witnessed the dolphins jump over the waves, the sounds of the music playing in the clubs or the smell of the salt water or the stale beer from the multiple beer cans lying around our hotel room.
Fifteen years have passed since that trip to Florida and most of us have gone our separate ways. While some of us have stayed connected on Facebook, the experiences we had over those seven days in Daytona Beach (A1A Beachfront Avenue) will remain with all of us for the rest of our lives.
Below are 10 Survival Tips for Spring Break as written in the Belleville News-Democrat, February 2007, based upon our trip in 1999 to Daytona Beach, Fla.:
Whether you’re going to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, Panama City Beach, Daytona Beach or Gulf Shores, the following survival tips are essential for getting the most out of your Spring Break trip with minimal drama and maximum comedy.
1) When packing, bring extra essentials if possible — clothes, money, toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, brush, shampoo, conditioner and soap). You never know when one of your freeloading spring break companions decides that bringing any of the above are optional. When you are at your destination, you may find yourself donating some or all of these items. But isn’t it ironic that when it comes to money for alcohol or the bars, this freeloading friend will always have cash?
2) When getting ready to caravan down to your spring break destination, make sure you have a good way to communicate between vehicles. Often cell phones can be temperamental when driving through the boonies. And walkie-talkies purchased at a dollar store on your way out of town leave little to be desired and often result in a lot of static and broken sentences when only three feet apart.
3) When planning for a week with extremely too many (more than four) people in one hotel room, remember to bring extra towels for showering after a long day at the beach. When trying to avoid the hotels’ housekeeping staff because you don’t want them to now how many people are actually residing in your room, extra bath towels are essential. Or else you will find yourself drying off with the same sandy towel for the entire week along with the rest of roommates. EW!!!!
4) After arriving at the hotel, the best quick friends are the hotel staff and security. You never know when being friendly with security guards may come in handy. For example, when they conduct a room check after a beer can waterfall starts from your balcony and leads to hundreds of beer cans being thrown down by other hotel room guests. And, unfortunately, the guards have a direct view of where the original can was thrown — your room. With security at your door, the knock may either bring a “Come on, guys, you know better,” rather than “Pack your bags, kiddies.”
5) When traveling with both single men and women, there needs to be a rule made up front about hooking up and not locking your roommates out of the room at 3 a.m. after the bars close. WARNING! When the roommate is finished getting lucky and finally unlocks the door, depending upon the length of the lock-out, death or dismemberment may occur.
6) For the ladies — Before going to bars, remember to have a plan of action for fending off both the scary old men who have no business being “on spring break” and the less-than-desirable men who use bad pick-up lines and decide personal space is optional. Whether the excuse is your friend has a migraine or someone has sun poisoning, remember to only use the severely harsh ones — contagious disease or a vomit-inducing case of bad breath — in dire emergencies.
7) For the men — If you are traveling on spring break without your current significant other, you must set up a game plan for when your girlfriend calls the hotel room incessantly looking for you, especially when you are once again out on the beach or at the club scamming on other prospects. Remember your roommates are not your answering service and having to fend off your girlfriend’s persistent questioning is not their idea of a great spring break.
8) When traveling in a group for spring break, it’s common for different people to take on familiar roles — the mother, the distant father, the annoying kids. While the “annoying kids” often make up most of the group, make sure the others understand their place in grocery shopping, going to the liquor store and taking care of those “kids” who decide to see if they could drink their weight in beer or shots. Note: The switching of roles may occur over the course of a day or week, depending on the scheduled events or the amount of alcohol consumed.
9) If your destination for the evening is not within waking distance from your hotel (Note: 5-20 miles is not walking distance), choose a designated driver or whoever picks the short straw in your group. But remember when choosing this driver, he or she may become impatient quickly while at the bar and become a little testy on the way back to the hotel when one of the their companions decides to open the car door while the vehicle is in motion to vomit on the main highway through town.
10) When choosing a spot to sleep for the night or for just a couple of hours before the sunrise, remember to shake all excess sand from your clothes since the beach should be left outside. Personal space is definitely something that should be left at home and sleeping on the balcony of your hotel room should be the last possible option since the seagulls will wake up long before you. And that’s not going to be pretty!
Ah, memories! So, here’s to being young, a little dumb and stupid, and too excited back then to really understand the difference between a good decision and a really horrible one! Cheers!