The Ugly American: A Jaded Curmudgeon Tells You 10 Ways to Keep Your Young Ass from Getting Murdered During Spring Break

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I get it. You’re young. You’re invincible. And to prove it you’re about to head to some ass-crack of a tourist trap to spend spring break blind drunk and waking up every day encrusted in a cocoon made of strange DNA. (Sigh. Memories.) But in between body shots, bear this in mind; crime rates skyrocket at spring break party destinations. So please, somewhere in that hormonal cinder block of a young brain you have, tuck away the following tips to keep your parents from having to make the long trip to some out-of-state county coroner’s office just to come identify your dead fool ass.


If a stranger approaches you and tells you he’s a famous photographer and wants to make you a cover model, just kick him in the nuts.


Lock your hotel-room door. Lord Christ. Derrick Todd Lee, a serial killer in Baton Rouge, picked his victims just by jiggling door knobs. Don’t be an idiot.


Zip-tie handcuffs are easier to escape than you think. Rapists and killers like to use zip ties to subdue their victims, but in truth those things usually pop right off with a quick snap. So don’t just lay there like a defeated bag of hammers just because you’ve been abducted and bound by zip ties. Show some effort.


Don’t Announce to the World Where You’re Staying. And your hotel clerk isn’t supposed to announce your room number out loud during check-in, either. If she does, just hand back your key back and ask for a room that hasn’t been broadcast to every rapist within earshot.


Learn how to escape a choke hold.


If you’re abandoned by your useless friends and need help, approach another female to ask for assistance. Less than 10% of predators are female, so go with the odds.


Learn how to escape a locked car trunk. Here are some tips: In recent-model cars, glow-in-the-dark escape handles have been installed for you to pull and free yourself. In all model cars, there should be a jack in there somewhere, find it and use it to jack the trunk open, or yank out the wires to the tail lights so the killer/rapist will get pulled over by the police.


If someone jumps in your car, pulls a weapon on you and demands you drive to a secluded area, jump out of the car and run. If you can’t do that then floor it and steer straight into the next streetlight. The airbag will deploy. You’ll be fine—maybe a little banged up, but that’s better than dead. If there is no streetlight nearby, rear-end a police car.


Don’t succumb to peer pressure! Your friends are idiots. Don’t listen to them when they say things like, “Drink this,” (said the date rapist with the roofie cocktail), or, “It’ll be fun,” (said the soon-to-be-dead friend who wants to hitchhike to Bisbee), or, “It’s not addictive if you only do it once,” (said the crack dealer/future pimp).


If a stranger asks to use your phone, say no. If a stranger asks you for directions, ignore him. If he asks you to get in the car and show him how to get somewhere, you might as well just have him drive your idiot ass to the morgue because that’s where you’re bound to end up anyway.

Hollis Gillespie writes a weekly travel column for Paste. She is a writing instructor, travel expert and author of We Will be Crashing Shortly, coming out in June. Follow her on Twitter.