It’s Spring Break. Yay.
For me Spring Break means a week of not teaching (twice a week I mislead communication majors enrolled in a “Social Media and Public Relations” class at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point), replaced by a trip to the tip of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and a visit to Michigan Tech University with my son. A three-day dive into the heart of the Snow Belt, in other words, where winter hangs on like one of James Thurber’s bull terriers.
To repeat an earlier statement, yay.
Now, I’m not buying travel insurance for this trip, but in the words of a famous T-shirt from the Steve Jobs Apple days, I am not the target audience.
The target audience is my students and their friends and those who are a few years older but not necessarily any wiser. Coincidentally, they are also going to be hitting places by the water, like Houghton only without the breezes.
Most of them aren’t buying travel insurance, either.
It’s unfortunate, really, because if any group of travelers taken as a whole need travel insurance, it’s students going on Spring Break. And here are some of the big reasons why.
- It’s not like they have a lot of flexibility to reschedule their trip. Most of them have none—flexibility, that is. They have a week off of school and that’s it. Next week will not work for them. As a result, they really need the nuts-and-bolts of their trip to work out. They need their flights to work and their transportation to and from the airport to work and the hotel room to be what they were promised. (Though if it’s not, our fresh-out-of-college Molly Jensen has a raft of tips and tricks for you to deal with that situation.) Baggage is less of a must-have, but they’re still going to need at least another swimsuit and a toothbrush. ExactCare from Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection can help replace items in lost bags; BHTP’s AirCare pays travelers instantly for missed connections, cancelled flights, and flight delays. But what makes travel insurance even more valuable for Spring Break travelers is the 24/7/365 assistance, so if you’re flight’s been cancelled or delayed you can get quickly rebooked and on your way, or if you’re absolutely lost you can get directions. Travel insurance is great, but travel insurance plus travel assistance is better.
- Things just happen more often when you’re on spring break. Let’s go through just a couple: having your pocket picked and your money stolen, and losing your passport. Both these mishaps are more likely to happen to college students and the slightly post-college because they tend to be a little more devil-may-care than the average river cruiser, and more likely to rely on cash instead of credit cards. Now, there are great resources to help prevent these sorts of mishaps (we are partial to Pick-Pocket-Proof Clothing and the U.S. State Department’s STEP program), but these are a little bit style-cramping when all you want out of Spring Break is five days of flip-flops and boat drinks. The assistance feature of travel insurance can help get you in contact with the nearest consulate or embassy, and can also help arrange for emergency cash advances, so spring breakers can keep breaking with a minimum of inconvenience.
- Things always seem to happen back home when you’re on Spring Break. Not always good things, either. People get sick. Cars skid off of icy roads and their occupants get hurt. National Guard members get called up to help deal with the inevitable Mississippi River flooding. Travel insurance can reimburse Spring Break travelers for these and many other reasons that might force a trip to be cancelled.
- Not everyone who organizes Spring Break travel is on the up-and-up. The vast majority are, but a few aren’t. And while stories are less common of tour operators taking the money and running and leaving their student travelers high and dry, these things still do happen. Travel insurance can protect Spring Break travelers from fly-by-night operators – never a bad thing.
- Travel insurance doesn’t cost that much. Two of the big things that go into setting the price of travel insurance are age and trip cost – and both of those break in favor of Spring Breakers, who are mostly young and mostly traveling on the cheap. It’s hard to say exactly how much travel insurance will cost for a Spring Break trip, but it may cost a lot less than you’d expect.
- You can buy BHTP up to 11:59 p.m. on the day before you leave. So if you’re heading out tomorrow, you’re in luck. It’s available here.
Kit Kiefer is a member of the marketing team at Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection and a former travel writer for The New York Times.