If you are traveling internationally some important things to consider and try to do could save your life and your future3:
- Avoid underage and excessive alcohol consumption
- “Overdoing it” can lead to an arrest, accident, violent crime, or death. As in the U.S., disturbing the peace, lewd behavior, littering, driving under the influence, drinking on the street or on public transportation may all be considered criminal activities by local authorities — is it worth it?
- Don’t import, purchase, use, or have drugs in your possession
- It just makes good sense. Drug charges can carry severe penalties, including imprisonment without bail for up to a year before a case is even tried. A conviction carries several more years of imprisonment in a foreign jail. In some countries it doesn’t matter if you’re underage either; you can still be charged as an adult.
- Obey the local laws
- An arrest or accident during spring break can result in a difficult legal situation. Your U.S. citizenship does not make you exempt from full prosecution under another country’s criminal justice system. Many countries impose harsh penalties for violations that would be considered minor in the United States.
- Take warning flags on beaches seriously
- This seems like a no-brainer, but many drownings occur when swimmers are overwhelmed by the water conditions. If black or red flags are up, do not enter the water. Strong undertow and rough surf along beaches are more common than you may think, especially on the Pacific coast. Being under the influence of alcohol while swimming is also a bad idea as alcohol impairs good judgment and is a sedative.
- Only use licensed and regulated taxis
- Some illegitimate taxi drivers are sometimes, in fact, criminals in search of victims. Some passengers of unlicensed taxis have been robbed, kidnapped, and/or raped. When in doubt, ask the hotel, club or restaurant staff to summon a legitimate taxi for you.
If you find yourself in a legal jam, contact the closest U.S. embassy or consulate for assistance.