Having spent a few years on the road in Spain I have met many travellers who all have their stories of trouble or danger on the highways. Since our encounter with robbers posing as police officers on the C-32 near Barcelona I have since been made aware of other people’s experiences in the same mould – without actually raising the issue myself.
Although our incident shook me we were lucky to escape intact but others I have spoken to weren’t so lucky. The story goes much the same in most cases; people pretending to be police officers pull someone over and rob them, thieves wait until night and gas campervan/caravan occupants before breaking in and stealing what they can, tourists are hit by a car who pulls over for insurance information before robbing them and so forth.
The scams are familiar and the trend seems to be that the thieves patrol the main roads (not autopistas) along the coast line where they know tourists in vans and cars full of euros and valuable technology will be ripe for picking.
Having had several conversations about these issues (and being subject to car crime no less than four times in 14 months) it now seems more prudent to travel along the more minor inland roads that steer you away from the busy motorways.
Some of the advantages that come with getting off the beaten track include wonderful, scenic views of mountains, small villages and other pockets of existence.
The fuel prices tend to be lower inland as well so although your route might be a longer and slower one, you’ll be compensated by cheaper diesel. I have never encountered any scammers, thieves or other less savoury characters while on these minor roads and the villages, sights on interest and dramatic vistas we’ve seen have been well worth the diversion.
I understand that the motorways are a faster route but given the worsening economy and equally increasing waves of crime targeting tourists, the minor roads are a much safer bet.
Wild camping along the east coast is now pretty much inconsiderable whereas inland there are much safer options in abundance.
Particular roads to avoid if you want to increase your chances of not being robbed are the C-32 and A-7 in Catalunya, and the N-340 which connects Catalunya to Valenciana.
Places like Barcelona, Benicasim, Tarragona, Castello and Valencia are great to visit but should not be considered as places to wild camp any longer.
Until the police stop taking the easy option of targeting dog walkers and drivers and tackle these highway robbers who are slowly ruining tourism and the economy the situation will only get worse. Do not avoid coastal towns as there is much beauty to be seen, but heed my advice and consider your route carefully.
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