Spiking: Stay Safe on Your Summer Travels

August 1, 2023

With summer holiday season now here, many people will be packing their suitcases and embarking on a week or two of sun, sea, and sangria. Whilst holidays are a time to relax and enjoy some down time, they also require caution and one area about which to be cautious is ‘spiking’.

Spiking is often associated with leaving food or drink unattended whilst in a restaurant or bar but it should be remembered that these things can be equally vulnerable when the shades are on and the eyes are shut, whilst laying in the sun by the pool. 

A recent Europesure research survey found that 21% of women think that it would be easy for somebody to spike their drink whilst they are sunbathing, yet we doubt that many have considered this possibility.  Fitting drinks lids or opting for drinks in lidded bottles may be advisable, if a little sun-dozing is likely, especially if away from the hotel and on the beach.

Why travellers are susceptible to spiking

Focusing on the issue of spiking can be highly advisable when travelling. Both drinks and food can be spiked as a precursor to a robbery or a sexual assault and both men and women can be targets.  It is also worth noting that there have also been incidents of needle spiking in Spain, where a swift dose of an incapacitating substance is injected by someone passing by. 

Tourists and travellers are often selected because they are not as au fait with their surroundings as locals and also because they frequently carry cash, passports and valuables that are attractive to thieves.  It pays to stay alert!

Having food or drink spiked can also result in injury and illness, as well as the potential trauma of sexual assault, so it is vitally important that precautions are taken when travelling.

What is food and drink spiking?

Food and drink spiking is illegal and involves putting alcohol or drugs into somebody’s drink without their knowledge, this can include:

  • adding additional alcohol to already alcoholic drinks
  • putting alcohol in non-alcoholic drinks, such as soft drinks and mocktails
  • adding prescription or illegal drugs to somebody’s drink.

What can you do to avoid getting spiked?

Unfortunately, somebody may not be able to tell that their drink has been spiked by smelling or tasting it.  The ‘date rape’ drugs of rohypnol and GHB, as well as ketamine, are all colourless, odourless and usually tasteless too, making them easy to slip into unattended food or drink.  As you cannot be too trusting, here are some tips on what you can do to avoid spiking.

  • Buy your own drinks and, if possible, watch them being prepared.
  • Don’t leave your drink unattended.
  • Never accept drinks from strangers.
  • Avoid easy to spike drink sources such as punchbowls.
  • Where possible, buy bottled drinks with screw tops so that you can put the lid on, should you want to save some for later.
  • Go out for the night, or take to the beach, with trusted friends and family and operate a buddy system, whereby someone will always watch food and drink.  
  • If you have to leave your drink, whilst you go to the toilet or take a dip in the sea, it is best to just write it off and get another one.
  • If you feel incapacitated, try to ask for help from someone you think you can trust, or attempt to call emergency services yourself.  Do not accept any lifts from strangers.
  • Don’t flash valuable items around, be that cash or other items.
  • If you’re going out alone or with somebody new whilst on your travels, let a friend or family member know where you are going, give them as much information as possible about the person you are meeting and check in with them regularly.

What difference does insurance make to whether or not I get spiked?

Insurance cannot prevent you from being spiked but may be able to step in to assist, if you are injured or robbed. Many policies will have exclusions related to being under the influence of drink or illegal drugs, so it is important to check your policy and speak to your insurer before you go away about any exclusions.

One thing that helps in these situations is ensuring that you report the crime.  If you can prove to your insurer that you were the victim of a crime, your claim may be easier to progress, so make sure spiking incidents are reported to the local police.

Take as many precautions as you can on your travels and ensure that you also have the essential back-up of a travel insurance policy safely packed away in your hand luggage.  Do make sure, however, that this is from a trusted provider, with resilient backing.  

To find out more about our travel insurance, backed by the world-renowned Lloyds of London, visit www.europesuretravelinsurance.com

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These travel insurance products are brought to you by Europesure Insurance. For EU and EEA policies: Status Europesure Insurance Cyprus is a trading name of Status Insurance Agents, Sub-Agents and Consultants CY Ltd which is authorised and regulated by the Insurance Companies Control Service in Cyprus, number 5015. Incorporated in Cyprus, Number HE394801: 5 Rafael Santi, 1st Floor, Office 101, 6052 Larnaca, Cyprus. Status Insurance Agents, Sub-Agents and Consultants CY Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of Status Insurance Management Ltd. For UK and Gibraltar policies, Europesure Insurance is a trading name of Status Insurance Management Ltd which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK. Their FCA number is 305697. Registered in England Number 1785590: First Floor, Jebsen House, 53-61 High Street, Ruislip, Middlesex, HA4 7BD.
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