The Smart Girl’s Guide to Spring Break


This article was originally published at the Huffington Post.

If only network TV would lead with this news: according to a University of Minnesota study, “hooking up” — casual sex with more than one partner — is NOT in itself damaging to one’s psychological health.

Just like the “free love” generation before us, millennials figured this out long before the men in white coats arrived. For some, hooking up is a way to explore their sexuality without a relationship commitment. For others it’s a form of dating — a good relationship requires a good sexual relationship, so why not cut to the chase?

But — there’s a catch. The study only covers emotional health. It just so happens the hook-up generation is also a primary victim of failed abstinence-only marriage programs and their sexual health knowledge is… terrifying. Another new study, this one by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, found that less than half of young adults use contraception when they have sex. In interviewing 18-29 year olds, they netted what is officially one of the scariest quotes of the year: “it doesn’t matter whether you use birth control or not; when it is your time to get pregnant it will happen.”

Yikes! These are the brainiacs you could be hooking up with over Spring Break?!? With that in mind, it’s time for another round of “Smart Girl Tips” to keep you safe, healthy, and sexy this Spring Break:

  • If there’s even the remotest possibility you’ll be having sex on the beach — or anywhere else, for that matter — buy your condoms of choice before you leave and stash a few in your purse, the rest in your carry-on. Condoms are the only way to prevent sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, so use one every single time you have sex. (A condom can also be cut in half to be used as a dental dam for safer oral fun!) If you’re on birth control, make sure to pack enough pills for your trip and remember to take it at the same time you usually do — the beer pong can wait a few minutes, we promise!
  • Safe sex is the goal — no one wants to get a diaper bag for graduation! — but it’s not always the reality. If the condom slips off (or never makes it on in the first place), there’s Plan B® One Step, the only one-pill emergency contraception that can be taken up to 72 hours after unprotected sex to prevent unintended pregnancy. If you’re 17 or older, you can get it without a prescription at the pharmacy — pick it up before you leave (Plan B® One-Step is only available in the US) so a slip-up doesn’t ruin your vacation.
  • If it’s mom you’d want the hospital to call when you’ve got heat exhaustion, program her numbers into your phone under ICE (“In Case of Emergency”) before you set off. When you’re on the ground, put the hotel’s phone number and address into your contacts and ask the front desk for the digits of a local cab company. If the hotel has a shuttle service, get a paper copy of the schedule and take a picture of it on your phone for later reference.
  • Hop from place to place in a pack and designate a ‘sober sister’ to make sure no one is slinking out the door with that gelled up, spray-tanned creeper or undressing for an ill-advised turn on the bar. As a rule, no one should leave alone with a new-found “friend” — but if you absolutely must head out for a hook-up, have a friend program your prize’s phone number in her phone and take a picture of you together. Set a time to check-in by text — and make sure to follow through.
  • The same ‘drink rules’ you follow at frat parties apply tenfold on Spring Break — never accept a drink from someone you don’t know and don’t leave it unattended while you dance or go to the bathroom. Same goes for those glowing vials of alcohol — take it directly from the server before it gets passed down the line.

More than 60 percent of employers take social networking profiles into consideration when making hiring decisions. Don’t let a week of debauchery ruin your job prospects by remembering that everything is a camera, including phones, iPods, and computers. Don’t do anything at a club you’d be mortified to see on CNN tomorrow. Be selective when posting your own pics — booze bottles, red eyes, and lots of skin are probably best kept under the ‘private’ setting for you and your fellow revelers to enjoy.

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