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3 Tips for Planning a Safe Trip to Spain This Summer
Avoid being a target for thieves while traveling abroad.
Keeping guidebooks and expensive jewelry out of sight can help reduce your chances of being a victim of theft.(Getty Images)
In 2015, 12.6 million Americans traveled to Europe – out of which more than 1 million Americans visited each month during the summer – making traveling with safety in mind a must. And while Spain is considered a safe travel destination for tourists, the Overseas Security Advisory Council, with the Bureau of Diplomatic Security and U.S. Department of State, reports that "street crime continues to be a concern" in their Spain 2016 Crime & Safety Report.
Though crime rates in Spain have fallen overall, the OSAC's crime data from January to September last year reveals over a half million occurrences of theft. And the most recent Crime & Safety Report points out that foreign visitors continue to be "the targets of choice" for pickpockets and thieves. Read on to learn the most common schemes to dodge and warning signs to watch out for to maximize safety while on vacation in Spain this summer.
Understand the Tactics Thieves Use to Avoid Being a Target
The OSAC's report reminds us that theft in Spain among tourists happens most often in dining establishments, airports, hotel lobbies and public transit. Common tactics used on tourist targets include baggage theft while checking in or out of hotels, criminal distractions, such as dropping an item or asking for assistance and allowing a partner to take it from a tourist and stealing items from street side tables (cellphones from tabletops, purses hung over chairs). It's also not uncommon for pickpockets to corner tourists on public transportation.
Take Extra Steps to Improve Safety and Stay Vigilant of Your Surroundings
By taking some basic precautions, you can avoid being taken advantage of. The OSAC suggests carrying limited cash, only keeping one credit card with you at any given time, carrying an extra copy of your passport with you and avoiding carrying all of your valuables in one pocket. Additionally, the OSAC recommends utilizing a hotel safe to store passports, extra cash and credit cards, and securing personal items in hard-to-reach places. While exploring, it's also best to ensure your bags are within clear sight, avoid wearing attention-grabbing jewelry and place your wallet in a buttoned or zipped front pocket (and conceal your pockets while riding the Metro). You should also keep expensive cameras, guidebooks and maps out of sight to avoid being targeted.
[See: 9 Ways to Travel Better.]
Know the Steps You Should Take if Something is Stolen
If you do fall victim to a pickpocket, call your bank to cancel your cards first. The number you would need to call in the event of such an emergency is usually found on the back of your credit card, so make a note of important numbers in advance of your trip to keep wherever you're staying.
The next critical step is tracking down the nearest police station. While it may feel like a lost cause, you'll need a report on file if you hope to receive a payout from your insurance company. Generally, you should be able to find someone who speaks English to help if you're in a larger city, such as Madrid or Barcelona.
If you find any of your travel documents have been stolen, you'll need to replace those materials as soon as possible. Get in touch with the nearest embassy or consulate if you discover your passport was stolen.
The Bottom Line
Make an effort to look confident anytime you're in a public space. If you look like you know where you're going, you'll be harder for thieves to pin as a tourist. And while petty crimes like pickpocketing are common in Spain, fret not: If you can remember and implement these safe travel tips once you're on the ground, it's easy to plan a relaxing, stress-free and rewarding vacation.
About En Route
Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.
Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.
Edited by Liz Weiss.
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