Most holidays pass without any major problems, but being the target of theft or other incidents can at best sour the experience, at worst ruin it completely. Living in Barcelona, I see tourists all the time making themselves vulnerable. The city has a reputation (in my opinion, somewhat exaggerated) for theft, but where there are tourists there will be people eager to relieve them of their valuables. Here are some tips for staying safe.
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You’re on holiday, and you want to take photos. That’s understandable, but it marks you out as a tourist. Be vigilant while snapping the sights, and watch your other belongings.
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I once had to call in to the main police station, which was full of tourists reporting thefts (and almost no locals). Do avoid carrying more than you will need – leave your credit cards, extra cash, passport etc safely locked up at your hotel.
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A lot of holiday problems are caused by excess alcohol. Someone who is under the influence makes an easy target for theft – or worse. Your judgement is impaired, you are more likely to get into fights and take risks. Go easy on the drinks.
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If you don’t know a city, do some research. Find out which areas to avoid, stay in a safe area, and don’t wander down dark streets at night. Barcelona has lots of dark little streets in the Old City, so be careful and stay where there are other people.
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No, I don’t mean everyone has to wear a dress, but some outfits mark people out instantly as tourists. Try to dress in a way that doesn’t identify you as a stranger in town – so no souvenir t-shirts!
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Inevitably, at some point you’re going to have to look at a map. Wherever possible, work out your route at your hotel. If you need to look at the map while out, try to be discreet – a book is better than one of those flimsy free maps you have to unfold.
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Keep a close eye on them at all times. Once in an internet café, I noticed a man kneeling on the floor by me to ‘do up his shoelace’. As soon as he realised I was watching him, he left. I have no doubt that he was planning to steal my bag, which I was watching closely.
Photo Credit: Mistifarang - el primero Unico de l'Escala
It is well known that thieves use distraction techniques such as offering to help you clean up after something has ‘accidentally’ been splashed on you. I’m constantly amazed to see crowds watching the ‘three cup trick’ – any ‘winners’ are the thieves’ colleagues. Also be careful while watching any street entertainment – the entertainers may be genuine, but it can be a good opportunity for thieves to snatch a wallet while someone’s attention is elsewhere.
By taking some simple precautions, you can reduce your chances of having your holiday spoiled. Enjoy yourself but stay alert – take the same precautions that you would at home. Have a good vacation!
Top Photo Credit: peasandgrunions
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