A college student recounts how she almost became a victim of human trafficking shortly after she arrived at the airport in Barcelona, Spain.
Heather Bailer is a student from the US who studied in Barcelona and Madrid. While she was familiar with the country, and was used to traveling alone, an incident made her believe that she almost became a victim of human trafficking.
She never imagined she could become a victim of human trafficking
In her Facebook post, Heather writes, ” I feel compelled to share a story about something very scary that could have happened to me, in hopes that my fellow ladies who like to travel can keep some of these things in mind while traveling abroad.”
“Trust me when I tell you this situation could happen to anyone.”
When she arrived at the airport, she saw a group of guys speaking English, asking if anyone needs a taxi. She went towards them and said that she was looking for a cab. They took her to a place where there was a line of unmarked cars which looked like taxis.
Heather thought that it was safe since she saw other people were riding the cars.
One of the men took her to a nearby car. The driver put her bags in the back and they soon drove off.
“RIGHT as I got in, the first guy got into the passenger seat of the car, the older man locked the doors to where the lock disappeared completely and wasn’t able for me to unlock, and they sped away. Obviously this was immediately scary to me because why do two men need to drive one person in a taxi?”
Soon after, Heather “immediately realized they were taking me the opposite way of the hotel.
“I then asked why he was taking me the way he was taking me, saying I knew a faster way.”
The driver informed her that they’re taking a different route to avoid traffic. At that point, she was already in the car for 25 minutes.
She heard the men saying they “need to change plans”
At this point, the men thought that she didn’t know how to speak Spanish, but she was proficient in the language.
Worried for her safety, Heather told them that she knew where she was and that they should immediately take her to the hotel.
She then overheard the men telling each other that they “need to change plans” in Spanish.
“The younger guy then started yelling at me about not being buckled in, but I was afraid that if I buckled in it would lock or something and I wouldn’t be able to get out.” she continues.
“I said I know what you all are trying to do and people will come looking for me and the men look at each other, the older man driving accelerated across 6 lanes all the way from the left to the right, and turned the corner, and just said, “get out here” in Spanish. I grabbed my bags and quickly got out of the car and they drove away, obviously not asking for money or anything since clearly this wasn’t a taxi.”
Heather shared that she wanted to tell her story to warn others that human trafficking could happen to anyone. She added that if she didn’t speak Spanish, something worse might have happened to her.
Always keep yourself safe when traveling
Here are some useful tips for women to remember when traveling:
1. Do your research
Planning ahead helps you avoid any problems and gives you an idea of what to expect on your trip.
2. Don’t leave your valuables in your room, especially if there is no safe
Make sure to keep your passport, money, and other important things with you whenever you travel.
3. Bring only what you need
You don’t have to take all of your credit cards with you, and you don’t need to withdraw all of your money whenever you travel. Bring only what you need.
4. Don’t be too trusting.
As much as we want to trust people around us, there’s just a lot of risk involved in trusting each and every person that you meet. If someone feels off, avoid that person.
5. Go easy on the drinking
Drinking while traveling might seem fun, but it can cause a lot of problems, especially if you overdo it. Drink moderately and resist the urge to get too drunk.
6. Don’t try to stand out
Be as inconspicuous as you can, and try to act like you’re a local or at the very least, you’re familiar with the place. This helps prevent you from being a target.
7. Check in with a friend regularly
Make sure to contact a friend or a relative and inform them of where you currently are. Make sure to tell them where you’re going and update them whenever you go to a different place.
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