Hello there, I ‘m so excited to be back from my trip after having an unintended summer break. This summer has been a blast though we had an unpleasant incident at the beginning of my trip. My husband and I went on a road trip adventure + family visit to Europe with a rented car and we had thieves broken in the car in Barcelona, Spain. The incident left us with no belonging for the rest of our trip and left us somehow heartbroken for all what we had to go through after the incident. Today, I am ready to put it out of my way and give you tips to stay safe while traveling hoping you can avoid what I could have avoided. But first, Let me take you through what happened.
After taking so many road trips in the US and outside including Barcelona, Spain, I had never had anything stolen from me. I was always careful while traveling until August 6. On August 6, I was on the third day of my road trip and 3 hours away from reaching my final destination which is in Valencia, Spain where my parents live. I stopped to see Montjuic Castle that overlooks Barcelona and its harbor. So we parked in a designated car area and we walked up to the hill to the castle. We spent a total of 2 hours when we got back. The back seat window of the passenger was smashed in. In a hurry, We opened the trunk. And It was empty. Empty!. EMPTY!!!!. The Thieves took everything in the car; one checked-bag, carry on and two backpacks. A loss of thousands of dollars.
We stood there stunned by what happened. It was like destiny was laughing at us; we never left the car in an open area before that. The one time we did. Thieves broke in and stole our belongings. Then, my heart started to beat fast and my feet could not hold me any further so I sat on the ground near the car with my hands on my head and held my self from screaming.
After the incidents
After a few minutes went by, we started to think about what we should do next. Police!! We thought!. However, 911 did not work. The next step is to look for someone who could help us call the police. I looked around and glanced a bus driver standing by his bus. I knew at this point my one year of Spanish needed to kick in. He gave me the number and drove away.
At the police station
Unfortunately, after we called the police, They told us we have to drive with a broken car to the police station which was hard to achieve with our situation. We entered the police station and there was a row of foreigners standing before us with similar theft incidents. After one hour, We filled the forms needed with our stolen items; money, lenses, work laptop and iPhone ( my husband brought his work devices with him since he was planning to work remotely), Tablet, gifts, and clothes. Remember! I have about 5 weeks of vocation and this incident happened during the first week of our trip. Thus, You name it. It was packed. Anyhow! they gave us the final report and they told us you can not continue your road trip with this car anymore.
That’s why we had to call the rented car agency to get it replaced which took us 4 hours to get it done with. At that point, we decided we do not want to spend one minute in Barcelona anymore. Thus, we drove in a newly rented car in the middle of the night which is a NO NO when it comes to traveling abroad. However, We finally made it safe to my parent’s house around 6 am in the morning. Nothing matter to us but to arrive safely…
We had two choices; to spend the rest of the vacation thinking of what happened or to try enjoying the rest of our vacation with my parents who I have not seen for 3 years. You guessed it. We chose the second option. Plus, My parents were like the magic cream on our wounded scar.
Tips to stay safe while traveling- What I learned I should have done.
As heartbroken and annoyed I am from the incident and after the incident hassle. I learned I could have avoided the theft from happening. If we had stuck to our precaution safety till the end, the incident would not have happened. Despite the fact that our car was parked among other cars and people are coming back and forth, Thieves broke into the car. However, I learned a very hard lesson and here are my tips to stay safe while traveling on a road trip.
Be careful with your rented car.
Since you are renting a car and crossing countries. It will lure thieves to it while driving and stopping in public places. I rented a car in Germany and I crossed France coming to Spain. The whole time I parked the car in paid parking lot and I made sure the parking lot is not an open area but closed with camera surrounding it even in the hotels I booked in our way. The one time that I trusted the beautiful castle and its surrounding so much, thieves got their chance. Villains watch their victim closely and they will get the chance if they could. These bad people must have used a detector to see if we have something in the trunk. Something I discovered after I heard so many similar stories in the same area from locals.
I would have recommended buying theft insurance but really you have to make sure it covers your belonging 24 hours. Some if not all of Europe rented car insurance cover from about 10 pm till 8 am at least t. If the incident happens during the day like in our case. the insurance will not cover a penny from the theft.
Do your deep research.
While we did some research on Montjuic castle before getting into Barcelona, It did not cross our mind to check the safety of the place. After the incident, I discovered it is a targeted car theft. Hence, many people recommended parking the car in a paid parking lot. Sadly, we were so blind sited by the amazing view and distracted to do a safety research on Barcelona and its tourists’ areas. I recommend doing safety research on any place you decide to go to. It will save you. This is one of the important tips to stay safe while traveling. whether you decide to go by rented car, your car or by walking.
Travel precaution- other general tips to stay safe while traveling
Do not stand out in the crowd when traveling.
I have talked about how I like to fit my dress to go with the local briefly in here. By choosing a wardrobe that goes with the country I am in, I am less target for mugged or bugged in tourist areas. Also, walk like you belong to the place you are in. Do not act like a tourist and avoid big maps. Of course, our DSLR camera prevented our low profile no matter how hard we tried. but we did not have any incident where we were mugged or bugged in all of our road trips before. I was always looking when my husband took pictures and this helped us a lot on our trips.
Notice the people around you.
I remember I glanced a man sitting in his car from the back of the passenger seat three cars away from where we parked. he looked away when I glanced at him. As he did not want to notice him. I did not think of it then. But now, it flashes back to me what he was doing alone in his car in a tourist area like this. Of course, the car was gone when we got back and noticed the smashed window. We could have avoided the incident if I thought about what was he doing and changed our mind to leave the car. But we trusted what we thought a peaceful place.
Put your belonging in a safe bag with you and take some copies.
The only thing that saved us from a bigger trouble is that our both passports were in my crossbody bag glued to my shoulder in front of me in all of my trip. For ladies, always have practical crossbody bag while traveling with your passport in it. For men, always put your passport with you in a safe pocket or Anti-theft backpack. Besides, before traveling, I scanned and photocopied our passport and ID in case something happens. I talked about it briefly in here.
Try to divide the money and do not put them in one place if you decide to have cash with you.
Otherwise, I would suggest relying on the credit card or traveler’s cheques. Unfortunately, One of the things that we were not lucky is that the backpack my husband left in the trunk had dollars and Euros in it. We divided the money between us which was a good idea. Then, he decided to divide his money between his wallet and his backpack. But in Montjuic castle visit, He thought the backpack will be safe in the trunk for an hour or so.
I know these tips to stay safe while traveling might scare you off from going on road trips. But with these precautions, you could travel safely to so many places anywhere you like with no issue. In fact, We traveled back to catch our flight back home to the US. During our road trip back, we stopped by France. We also visited Switzerland for a few days. It was a meditation with the Alps view. I cannot wait to share my adventure with my fashion look next. So stay tuned.
Now that I have shared my tips to stay safe while traveling with you. What’re your tips to stay safe while traveling? Let me know in the comment below or share it by tagging #chez_rama on my Instagram @chez_rama.
Have a wonderful day.