Regardless of where you are, food and drink safety should always be top of mind – both at home and on vacation. Traveller’s diarrhea and food poisoning are often expected on vacation, but spiking is a whole different story.

Typically, when people hear the term “spiking”, they automatically think of drinks, but you should be just as cautious of your food! In some countries, strangers offer fruit or snacks laced with drugs, and it may seem like a nice gesture, but they may have other motives, and it’s up to you to be aware of them. Use your common sense, and politely decline any food or drinks from strangers.

What is spiking?

Spiking is when people try to add substances such as drugs or alcohol to your food or drink without your permission or knowledge. It can very well happen to anyone, anywhere, but it’s particularly popular in certain areas of Asia and Mexico. In Asia, it’s common for women to spike a foreigner’s last drink before leaving the bar, only for the foreigner to wake up in their hotel room with nothing but clothing left; they will take all your valuables and belongings, so be very careful if you’re alone in a bar or a nightclub! Most recently, there have been numerous reports of spiked alcohol at Mexican resorts, so be extra cautious if you’re planning on travelling there, even at your hotel.

Drinks at a street vendor
Be cautious when selecting beverages on vacation, especially from smaller cafes and street vendors. 

How can I avoid spiking?

To protect yourself from being spiked, follow these helpful tips the next time you’re in one of these situations:

  • You are more of a target if you are alone, so if possible, travel with trusted friends, or say you have friends on their way to meet you
  • Buy your own drinks and watch the bartender make your drink
  • Opt for bottled beverages when you can, as cans can easily be spiked with a syringe
  • Don’t accept food or drinks from total strangers
    • If you do accept a drink from someone, accompany them to the bar to ensure nothing is put into your drink
  • Keep your eye on your drink throughout the night, and always have it with you
  • Take note of suspicious looking food or drinks that have been tampered with (i.e. straw is missing; plate or glass has moved)
  • If you suspect something in your drink or food, tell a host or manager immediately
  • Use mobile apps like Companion so friends and family are always aware of your whereabouts

What are some of the symptoms of spiking?

You may not realize your food or drink has been spiked, because it’s often unnoticeable and/or tasteless. To be on the safe side, here are some of the symptoms you might experience after spiking, depending on what you’ve been spiked with:

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Slurring of words
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness

If you notice one of your friends has been spiked, call an ambulance immediately, as it could be more serious than you think. Remember, your travel insurance may not cover you for all alcohol-related accidents or illnesses, so remain vigilant and drink responsibly on your vacation.

Travel safely!

Linnea