When you're abroad and travelling around you are guaranteed to be looking for a good time, and part of this is enjoying the local nightlife no matter where your destination is. New clubs, new drinks and new people can be great but it can also be easy to get caught up in the excitement and forget to make sure you're safe. This article will tell you what steps to take to ensure you and your possessions stay safe and what to do if the worst happens.
Ensure you know what you're drinking
In almost every bar that you enter whilst you're abroad you will find some form of local alcohol on offer. Although the cheap prices may be attractive, be careful with what you are ordering. As you won't have tried them before, local spirits may be stronger than anticipated and drinking too much will end in disaster. Ask for more information on local alcohol before you order, such as percentages and unit numbers so that you know what it is you're drinking and how much it will affect you.
You will also find that some clubs located on well-known strips offer a cocktail of various spirits for cheap prices. This may also seem a good idea as the drinks usually come in a pitcher-sized jug containing around five different spirits including sugary alcopops to drown out the strong taste. Be careful of drinks like these as you may not taste the amount of alcohol you're consuming but your body will definitely feel it. Don't drink too much and should you want to try one of these cocktails we suggest sharing with a large group of friends responsibly.
Saying 'no' to drugs
In party areas it isn't uncommon to find drugs being sold or used on a regular basis, this includes drinks being spiked. In order to keep yourself safe and to ensure your drink doesn't get spiked, keep your drinks in sight at all times as well as your friend's beverages. If you need to leave your drink momentarily, make sure you leave it with someone you know. We also advise that you do not accept drinks from someone you don't know if you haven't witnessed them purchasing it. You can never be sure what they have slipped into there between leaving the bar and visiting you.
Bottled drinks are usually safer than large jugs or glasses as it's harder to slip drugs into these. Some clubs can also offer plastic stoppers that only allow room for a straw to enter the bottle, you can ask if these are available at the bar. The most common drugs used to spike drinks are gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), gamma-butyrolactone (GBL), valium, benzodiazepines, rohypnol and ketamine. When mixed with alcohol these can cause you to pass out leaving you very vulnerable, and in extreme cases lead to coma or death.
If you notice that you feel drunker than you should be or your drink smells or tastes funny, get help immediately. Making new friends whilst you're abroad is always a good idea as you can expand your friendship group and create more memories while potentially making friends for life. It is important, however, to know who you are mixing with. Locals can be good to make friends with however you should avoid making friends with people who are heavily involved with drugs or who seem to get into violent situations as you could accidentally get involved.
How to keep your possessions safe whilst partying
When you're out partying your mind can be focused on having fun rather than your possessions, but come the next morning you're sure to have regrets when you're missing your phone or money. If you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of an incident, your travel insurance will NOT cover you. In order to keep things safe, take a bum bag or zip purse out with you to keep your valuables in. It's very hard for thieves to steal your things when they're in clear view of you, plus there are many stylish bum bags available thanks to their increasing popularity at festivals!
If you have brought your smartphone with you on your travels, it is a good idea to bring a 'party phone' with you as well. This is an old mobile phone or a cheap one that you can buy in supermarkets which you won't miss if it gets lost or stolen. It will also help you stay in contact with your friends should you lose them. Leave your more valued mobile in your room in the safe provided for peace of mind. Think carefully about money when you are planning on going out.
If you have your money stolen you want to ensure that it's not your entire fund for the holiday. Taking out a reasonable amount of money and leaving the rest in a safe at your accommodation is highly advised. This way if the worst happens you know that you will have more at home. We also advise against taking your bank card out with you. As tempting as it is 'just in case', if this gets lost or stolen it can be harder to cancel whilst you're abroad and you could end up having a huge bill racked up should someone be using it! You should also leave this in your safe.
Action plan for staying safe
Before leaving for a night out it's a good idea to come up with an action plan. Agree with your friends which venues you will be visiting and always arrange to meet at a certain place at random points in the evening so that if anyone gets lost or separated, they will be able to find you easily. For example, 'meet at the toilets at 10pm, 12pm and 2am'. It can also be a good idea to leave a spare key at the reception desk of your accommodation so that if someone gets lost or arrives home at a different time to the rest of your group, they will be able to get into your accommodation.
What to do if you get injured or spiked
If you're injured, or a friend gets hurt, no matter how small the injury, you should always seek medical attention. If you have a small cut this could potentially get infected if not treated properly. If you are a UK citizen and are travelling within Europe, ensure you have an EHIC card before you set off and keep it on you at all times. Should you get injured this will allow you healthcare for a discounted price (or sometimes free) within a European Economic Area.
It is important to remember that your EHIC card may not always cover you depending on what treatment you require, and you may end up with a hospital bill. Some party areas will have ambulances that patrol around the strip on a regular basis, however if you cannot find medical attention it is best to go to the local hospital. If you start to feel unwell or think your drink may have been spiked then tell someone you completely trust, such as a close friend or relative. Alternatively tell the police or a medical professional. It is important that you are tested to see if there are any harmful drugs in your system and are taken to the nearest Accident & Emergency department. Some drugs can take up to three days to leave your system, although common date rape drug GHB takes just 12 hours.
Getting around when under the influence
We advise that you NEVER travel alone when abroad and under the influence as you become a prime target for criminals. Travel in a group of people and when it comes to getting taxis, make sure you're using a registered taxi from a company. It can be easy to confuse private cars with taxis but these are only permitted to pick up pre-arranged bookings. Make sure that if you have pre-booked a taxi that you are in the right one and if not; ensure you're using a proper company.
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