Tips to stay safe while travelling in Spain

Spain is a lively destination renowned for its beautiful architecture, nightlife and many festivals. It’s generally a safe destination, but travellers should take a few precautions to help ensure a trouble-free holiday. It’s important to be aware of risky situations before they arise — recently Spain has become a target for terrorists and rising unemployment is fuelling petty crimes such as theft.
Although robbery is a problem, thieves in Spain are more likely to pickpocket tourists than to mug or assault them. Take sensible precautions — don’t flash around money and keep your wallet in a pocket close to your body. Try to avoid carrying valuables, large amounts of cash or important documents with you. Be careful around outdoor ATMs as these are frequented by robbers — withdraw cash instead at machines inside banks, malls and hotels. Also, there has been a significant increase of stolen passports in the Barcelona region since the beginning of 2019. 
Emergency passports can be expensive and lead to travel delays. Make sure your travel insurance covers travel document theft.

The local pickpockets can be quite creative. Common schemes include:

  • Fortune telling - A gypsy woman approaches and offers to tell your future. Sometimes these women
    work in teams, and while you’re distracted you’ll lose your valuables.
  • The ‘good cause’ - If smartly-dressed ‘charity workers’ thrust a clipboard in your face, you may discover later that you’ve made an unwilling ‘donation’.
  • Queue jamming - Teams of thieves deliberately create bottlenecks in busy places, such as on public
    transport, mall entrances and on escalators. The pushing and shoving that ensues is the perfect environment for fast fingers to do their work.
  • Needing Assistance - Thieves also distract their victims with offers of assistance (with directions,
    for example). While the victim is distracted, an accomplice robs the victim.

If you are pickpocketed make sure you obtain a police report as you may need this to make a travel insurance claim for your lost belongings.
Spain has been the target of co-ordinated attacks by religious extremists and separatist organisations. Tourists should monitor official advisory services, such as travel.gc.ca for safety alerts. Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places. Be particularly vigilant if attending sporting events and during religious holidays and other public celebrations, as terrorists have used such occasions to mount attacks.
If you do become sick or injured, you’ll be in good hands. Spain has invested heavily in its medical services to guarantee universal coverage for its citizens. That said, visitors who are not part of the European Union usually have to foot the bill for any medical treatment. Some providers will not give treatment unless payment is made upfront. Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.

Your travel insurer can help co-ordinate your hospital care and cover treatment bills.
The northern region of Spain is prone to violent storms and heavy snowfall that can shutdown roads and transport. Forest fires occur, mainly between June to August in coastal and rural regions. Spain lies on an earthquake fault line, but most tremors are minor disturbances with only the occasional disruption caused to daily life. If you are caught in a natural disaster, make sure you follow all advice provided by local authorities.
Many cities in Spain have banned outdoor consumption of alcohol. Always be sure to understand local laws before drinking in the streets. Also, it is generally frowned upon for individuals to be visibly drunk in public — usually anyone who looks ‘messy’ isn’t a local. Spanish bartenders can be a bit loose when measuring out drinks, so be aware that your order may contain more alcohol than you would usually expect. Assaults on female tourists in clubs and bars do happen occasionally, so women should watch out for ‘date-rape’ drugs and never leave a drink unattended. And if you’re partying into the early hours of the morning, it’s best to take a taxi back to your accommodation rather than walking the streets.
Running with bulls, jumping off fountains — while the locals may participate, these dangerous events may not be covered by travel insurance.
Spain has some of the toughest anti-smoking laws in Europe. Smoking is banned from all indoor public buildings, workplaces, near hospitals and in playgrounds. It’s also banned in the outdoor sections of all bars and restaurants, as well as prohibited in forested areas as a way to prevent fires.

NOTICE: While the Information is considered to be true and accurate at the date of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of the information. We strongly recommend verifying the travel advisory of your destination prior to departure.

DISCLAIMER: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of all information as at the date of publishing, Allianz Global Assistance does not accept liability for any errors or omissions. Allianz Global Assistance strongly recommends seeking the guidance of a professional travel agent/agency for further information on a specific destination. On your next trip, whether to another province or country, ensure you have travel insurance as it may assist you in cases of unforeseen medical emergencies and other types of mishaps that can happen while you travel. Travel insurance does not cover everything, please always refer to the policy document for full terms and conditions, including limitations and exclusions. Allianz Global Assistance is a registered business name of AZGA Service Canada Inc. and AZGA Insurance Agency Canada Ltd. Photography Credits: Sergio TB, Vladimir Staykov, NaughtyNut Shuterstock.com

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