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Nanny State Department runs amok

Cancun (Photo: Melina Mara/Washington Post Cancun (Photo: Melina Mara/Washington Post)

The State Department  publishes regular travel warnings urging people not to go to places like Syria — or  maybe these days Ukraine — and other dangerous places.

It also puts out yearly spring break advice for students. For example, back in 2012 it  put out a spring break advisory for students, telling them to avoid certain parts of Mexico because of drug violence.

But Wednesday’s official Top Five Travel Tips for Spring Break  for students is like Helicopter Parent gone wild or a post-Colorado legalization  version of the classic “Reefer Madness” movie.

” Regardless of the destination, the U.S. Department of State encourages students to follow our tips for traveling abroad,” the advice begins.

First, “avoid underage and excessive alcohol consumption.” (Right, that’s not why all those kids are going to Cancun.) ” ‘Overdoing it’ can lead to an arrest, accident, violent crime, or death.”

Next, you should “obey all local laws,” and “don’t carry or use drugs, as this can result in severe penalties.” Who knew? And “don’t carry weapons either—some countries have strict laws, and even possessing something as small as a pocketknife or a single bullet can get you into legal trouble.” So leave the Glock at home.

Some of advice is straightforward, suggesting you check the Web site,, to find out  about visa requirements, road conditions, crime and such. And if you lose your passport or are injured, make sure you have the contact info for the embassies or consulates.

But then the nagging begins in earnest: “Keep in touch with your parents,” the State Department advises, and if you’re going somewhere where you won’t have Internet or your cell phone won’t work, let them know.

Also, remember to always wear clean underwear and, for heaven’s sake, floss regularly!

(Okay, we made that last one up.)

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.

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