It has almost become an “American tradition” today in the United States for students to take a senior trip. Most often a small group of friends, who have just graduated from high school, decide to travel to an exotic location for a great time. While a senior trip serves as a great “we finally made it” reward, in recent years there have been some concerns. These trips should prompt parents and students to engage in serious discussion and problem solving before departure.

Whether to the beach or skiing in the mountains, thousands of seniors each year head to far away destinations. Although most trips do go off without a hitch, there are some things you should know and be prepared for prior to your departure to paradise.

First, familiarize yourself with the emergency contacts in your country of destination and, if possible, do research before you go. If this is not possible, then once in country, take the time to find and share the essential information with everyone in your party. You can contact your travel agency, U.S. embassy, tour operator, an information center, or online resources for more information about the area. These sources should provide you the information you need to have a safe and enjoyable trip. Be sure to include:

• The location of the nearest hospital or health care facility
• Where and how to contact the authorities
• Who to call in case of an emergency
• How to use your cell phone or public phone in country
• Emergency contacts for all those traveling

This basic information could help you or a friend in an emergency and you need to make sure your family at home has a copy of this information too. There are some additional questions that you and your group of friends should seriously discuss prior to departure.

• Is legal drinking ok? Discuss possible consequences
• Are we going to have a guardian or adult with us at all times? If not, who will be in charge?
• Establish groups or “partners” for every event
• What are the rules on curfew?
• If a conflict arises, how will it be resolved?

Senior trips can be fun, but if you and your friends do not establish rules, bring a guardian, or become familiar with emergency procedures; your senior trip could potentially become a nightmare. It is not uncommon for well-intended senior trips to go terribly wrong. In the end, a little preparation can go a long way.