Invaluable travel tips, particularly if you’re renting self catering accommodation like a villa.
Before going into detail on important issues such as avoiding car rental tricks and security tips, then some key must-pack items should be listed first.
What should I take with me to Spain?
Apart from the obvious luggage requirements we would suggest:-
A torch – particularly if you arrive on a late flight or arrive late due to delays, as you may find that the villa is more difficult to navigate when you are not familiar with the property and need to locate the door keyhole and steps.
Ear plugs – for swimming in the pools to help prevent any possible ear infection (available at chemists) – see pools below for more info; Pool caps – particularly for those with dyed hair, which could react to chlorine in the pool and change its colour (available at large stores or local baths);
Suntan cream – waterproof and of a high factor. Remember you can get the sun even through your clothes or parasol.
Mosquito repellent plug-ins – liquid ones are best, as opposed to tablets (available at the airport or cheaper in the Spanish supermarkets). Tip – if you close the window & door to the bedroom and leave the plug-in on for 1 hour before you go to bed then you should be able leave the window open all night without any disturbance from mosquitoes. Note the more elevated or breezy the property is the fewer mosquitoes are around.
Other items to remember: medications, hair dryer, adaptor for 2 pin plug, camera, CDs (where useable), directions to the villa with contact details, driving licence, passport (10 year one), contactable phone number on GSM for your family. Keep cash and credit cards with you at all times in a useful money belt.
A phrase book. Helpful to have, although most Spanish people on the Costa speak English. Get to know some key words like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. Try to pronounce some words in the local language – it will give you really good pleasure to interact with local people.
GPS handheld Sat Nav. Most useful for driving around, and for walking too. If you have a Smartphone, then you can download a map.
Do I need to hire a car?
Although there are some rental villas you may find that are close to the beach and supermarkets that can be walked to, it is generally recommended to rent a car for the enjoyment of your holiday, flexibility and cost saving over taxis. Villas with private pools tend to be set back in the valleys and therefore generally considered too far to walk to shops, although would only be a few minutes’ drive away. Buses do service the many small resorts, although you may have to wait quite sometime, whereas taxis are much more readily available, but would be more expensive than car rental for the duration of a holiday, taking into account also transport to and from the airport. Note that there could be few pavements and very little street lighting on the access roads to many villas, so walking at night can be more precarious.
Beware low-cost car rental: Ensure you get fully comprehensive insurance cover, not just CDW and TC. Many price-compare-website results show the cheapest agency rate, but invariably when you arrive to your destination airport car rental reception desk they ask for more money for insurance protection, which then equates to double the car hire cost. Obtain in writing, before you leave for your holiday, that the car rental includes Fully Comprehensive cover, or don’t book it!
If you go in summer then look to buy a foil reflective windscreen protector, thus saving the interior of your car from heating up too much.
Animals and insects
Stray and wild small cats should not be fed or allowed into your accommodation, as they tend to have fleas and can destroy the furnishings, as well as irritate members of your own party.
Ants are constant visitors to all self catering accommodation in warm climates, particularly as most properties are surrounded by gardens. Locally bought ant powders are a good repellent, but it also helps to keep crumbs to a minimum.
The following points are important for travellers to know, but to put it into prospective the UK has twice the number of burglaries than Spain does, according to Civitas, so one should not be overly concerned, but observant and mindful.
Be particularly careful upon arrival to airports. It has been reported that sometimes thieves will identify possible targets at the arrivals hall. When one is on holiday the mind is pre-occupied with simply moving luggage and getting to the destination. Thieves may identify potential targets for many reasons. Some include seeing expensive luggage, video cams, a pre-occupied family in a flustered state and others perceived as a vulnerable target.
Without being alarmist it is in your interest to be more vigilant. It is possible that you may be watched at the airport and followed to your accommodation. Keep valuables with you when you are out, or in a safe if the villa has one. Opportunistic thieves tend to seek portable items, usually non-identifiable and include cash, and would normally attempt a break-in shortly following arrival, but invariably when the premises are unoccupied.
Tricks. It has been known that certain tricks are played on tourists in Barcelona. Whereby a passing señorita, or señor. passes you by and then brushes your shirt and tells you that some bird has made some droppings, when it was her/him that actually put it on you in the first place. By the time you overcome the confusion the accomplice runs off with your wallet.
Other tricks involve a helpful fellow motorist that flags you down indicating that you have a flat tyre on your car. When you both get out of the car to see what is wrong they run off with a handbag.
If the entrance door to the villa is some way from the pool, then do ensure you lock the door.
If you do experience a theft then go directly to the police station and report the incident and ensure you get a crime number, as you would in the UK.
Remember in Spain as well as the UK or elsewhere in the world:
Do not leave unattended luggage anywhere, including your car.
Be careful if the car is loaded when parked, and left unattended. Best go to a secure car park in cities rather than park in the street.
Be mindful of what is going on around you. Particularly at airports, and when leaving the airport and leaving the villa. If possible leave a car in the driveway and leave a light on.
Keep possessions close to you.
Hold less cash. Use travellers cheques or use credit cards more.
Beware of whoever knocks on your front door, as you could well be being assessed.
Do not let into your property anyone that is not your agent’s representative. Some practice includes pretending that the gas tubes are due to be replaced, which in every case is a scam.
If you are suspicious then do call the local police or your representative at the villa, or mention it at a bar or restaurant close by.
As you would be security-conscious at home so you should be in Spain. Opportunistic thieves have made simple break-ins into villas in the past, mostly due to the non mortise locking of doors or the failure to properly close windows, which are not protected by the local decorative metal bars on windows and sometimes gate doors.
As at home in the UK or other parts of the world insurance cover on any break-in is only honoured provided that a mortise lock is used (not just a Yale type key) and any other fitted bolts are also used (if fitted), so do ensure your accommodation is securely locked when you are out.