Mark it

This year's spring break is March 24-28. To get involved in CU's Alternative Breaks and do a little good with your week off, go to http://volunteer.colorado.edu/alternativebreaks and decide early — these trips fill up fast.

 

It's only January, but this is the perfect time to start thinking about WOO SPRING BREAK.

I know it seems early. But if you start now:

1. You'll have something to look forward to on dreary winter days and/or when school is getting stupid.

2. You can plan a little, and planning is one of the first things people tell you to do in articles about spring break. (Oh hey, look at that.) Planning will get you a cheaper flight or access to a trail, river or campsite you can't get at the last minute. It also will get you a gold star. I'll send it to your mom.

Now that you're totally planning something, you can start thinking about a few other factors that might prevent your spring break from going south. (Unless by "going south" you mean that you intend to go south of here for warmer weather, which is of course a fine idea.)

Plan a way to keep an eye on your money. One way to do this is to get a pre-paid credit card, which comes with protection if it's stolen (unlike cash) and will prevent you from spending more than you have (just like cash). If you're traveling abroad, think about getting one with a chip, which is more secure and in some countries is more useable than a card with a magnetic strip. Travelex has one with PIN-and-chip technology; check it out at travelex.com/US/Products/Cash-Passport/.

Choose your companions wisely. Your travel companions will make or break your trip, even more than a lost wallet or cancelled flight. Think about it: who do you want with you if your wallet is stolen or your flight is cancelled? Who do you want with you if your road trip halts on the side of a highway in the middle of nowhere with a steaming, immovable car? Not your friend who is easily steamed, or has an immovable attitude about how to go through life.

Once you're off and away on your trip, you'll want to choose your companions wisely all over again. Let's say you have a beach condo somewhere. Let's say you are partying with some super cool people who happen to be sleeping out of their trucks, and hey, they end up drinking at your beach condo late, and you are finally ready to go to sleep and realize they smell awful from sleeping in their trucks and you want them to leave, but they stay up and keep drinking and playing macala, and they invite other smelly friends over after you go to bed, and then next morning you wake up with a tiger in the bathroom, a baby in the closet and your best friend is missing a tooth.

Wait.

WOO SPRING BREAK is totally happening in this scene from Panama City Beach, Fla.
WOO SPRING BREAK is totally happening in this scene from Panama City Beach, Fla. (Terry Barner / The News Herald)

OK, so that exact scenario is unlikely to play out in real life, but no one wants smelly, drunk strangers passed out in the living room come morning. So choose wisely.

Don't drink the water if you're traveling to Mexico or Cambodia or some other place where they tell you not to drink the water. Remember that not drinking the water means not drinking ice cubes that have melted into your Coke. It also means not being tempted to do it when you notice that the wacky Aussie in the hostel room next door (who is awesome and says things like "I'll stop rabbiting on about dancing all night, it was just so fun though") slurps it right out of faucets like they're not breeding Montezuma's revenge or Dehli Belly or whatever. Be strong! Don't drink the water!

Do drink (safe) water, however, before you go drinking (and during and after), regardless of where you've gone on spring break. You'll thank yourself the next morning.

Don't be stupid. My grandma used to say this. Actually she still says this. This rule applies any time you're tempted to pick a fight with a really big dude, to not use a condom, to go see the donkey show, or, if you're skinny and you visit my grandma, it applies when you don't take thirds at dinner. It's a good rule of thumb for spring break and life.

But don't get too rule-bound. Have an adventure. Grandma still loves a good story.

Contact Jenn Fields at fields@coloradodaily.com or twitter.com/jennfields.