It’s the time of year when regular travelers come face to face with young partygoers trying to escape the cold. But is it possible to get along with spring breakers when you’re on the road?
Seth Beckerman, a consultant from Pittsburgh, remembers a recent confrontation with a crowd of young spring breakers at a Key West, Florida, hotel.
“Seems there had been more than a bit of drinking the night before and these young lads had locked themselves out of their room,” he recalls. “So they removed the window of their room to gain access, not only destroying the window but also damaging the frame as well as the furniture they had fallen on after crawling into the room.”
Beckerman recalls the scene: The young men who had destroyed the furniture were apologizing to police officers. A hotel manager was also there, ordering the students to depart immediately.
Similar scenarios will play out across the country in coming weeks. A recent survey of spring breakers found the No. 1 priority for millennials will be to “kick back and relax.” So how do you get along with these revelers? It’s as simple as setting expectations and stepping outside your comfort zone.
Find common ground
I asked Drew Johnson, who runs Lagerhead Cycleboats, a party boat company in Fort Myers, Florida, how to handle spring breakers. His answer? Tell them what you want.
“We set expectations ahead of time,” he says. “We do our best to set up people that are more alike whenever possible. Also, we let the groups know who they are getting paired up with. We find common ground – this is critical but easier than you think.”
For travelers, setting expectations means talking to a hotel or resort, and of course to the spring breakers, when you check in. Introduce yourself. Let them know who you are and if it’s appropriate, what you’re doing in town – assuming you are not there to party. If you’re a spring breaker, why not introduce yourself to the other hotel guests on your floor? That way, if there is a misunderstanding or conflict, they’ll know who you are.
Offer an olive branch
Engage in a dialogue with the other side. That’s the advice of JP Faiella, a Boston publicist who has worked in crisis communications. “In any conflict resolution, you have to listen and find a way to make everyone appreciate various vantage points,” he says. “Hopefully let everyone win just a little.”
Practically speaking, that means opening a dialogue between you and the noisy partygoers. And, if you’re a spring breaker, then it means listening to the complaining resort guests who are trying to get some sleep. The first step toward a resolution is talking with each other, so when things get loud, your first call should not be the front desk, but a polite request in person to turn down the volume.
“Step out of your comfort zone,” he says. “Offer an olive branch.”
Be friendly and polite
A friendly tone opens the door to a compromise, says Ana Jovanovic, a clinical psychologist who works for Parenting Pod, a site for promoting family mental health.
For example, imagine a group of spring breakers at the airport talking loudly to each other, laughing and playing music while you’re trying to finish a spreadsheet for work.
“No matter how annoyed you are, try to stay calm,” advises Jovanovic. “Approach them with, ‘You guys really seem to be excited. Where are you traveling to?’” Ask a few friendly questions and make some friendly comments: “Lucky you. That sounds like a lot of fun.’”
Only then you should ask them politely: “I have an awfully boring spreadsheet to finish for work. I know you are super excited about your trip, but I would really appreciate it if you could be a bit quieter. Would that be okay?” she says.
The reverse is true for all you kids and young adults out there on spring break. Being polite can cover a multitude of complaints about loud parties. Remember your “pleases” and “thank you’s.”
I admit, I’m not a fan of spring break. Whenever I’ve been on the road in March and early April, trouble has followed me. I’ve been threatened with arrest in Daytona Beach and punched in the face in New Orleans. So I try to avoid inexpensive, warm-weather destinations around this time of year (see below), and if you’re not into big parties, you might want to as well.
How to avoid a conflict
Maybe the best way to avoid a conflict with the spring break crowd is to avoid the spring break crowd. Here’s a list of the most-loved spring break destinations for 2019, according to the market research company Crimson Hexagon. It’s not too late to change your itinerary and visit these places after things cool off in April.
1. Puerto Rico
2. Atlantic City, New Jersey
3. Napa Valley, California
4. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
5. Nashville, Tennessee