With a wealth of Blue Flag beaches, warm Mediterranean seas and reliably hot summers, not to mention low cost of living and spectacular food, Spain is a permanent favorite for British holidaymakers seeking a beach holiday. Kids can splash on muddy waters and play on the sand while adults watch them from the beach chair with an iced beverage. No one can dispute that Spain is truly one of the best places in Europe for a family beach holiday.
Although most family vacations on the beach are far from dangerous, there are some things to watch out for. No matter how careful you are, it seems that someone always gets sunburned (sometimes severe enough to require treatment), and there is always the possibility of food poisoning from some exotic kitchen. Add to this the possibility of heatstroke and minor risks that can afflict rested people anywhere – crooked ankles from unfamiliar stairs, fall to crowded sidewalks – and it's clear that it's worth making sure your entire party is protected by a family vacation policy, a chance for something to go wrong .
A visit to the doctor
Many injuries, illnesses and accidents can occur or become apparent at your hotel. Shower slips and stair injuries are relatively common injuries for adult hotels, while children are known to peel on hot water or injure running or playing in the room. Everyone is susceptible to food poisoning, which is unlikely to be the case until you return to your hotel after dinner.
If the injury or illness is serious enough that medical attention is needed, you can ask a doctor at the front desk, but be sure to state that you need a state-appointed doctor, not a private doctor. If a hotel requests a private one, it may not be covered by your family vacation insurance policy (and definitely not the EHIC).
Make sure you know where to put your hands on each EHIC family member, find their EHIC and proof of family vacation policy. Present these documents as soon as you can to avoid new costs. Please note that some family travel insurance policies will allow you to privately treat unhappy people such as sunburn, food poisoning, and other illnesses, so if that is the case, feel free to request a private treatment and provide proof of arrival upon arrival.
Getting to the hospital
Although it is rarely necessary to call an ambulance, it can happen – for example in cases of severe heatstroke, dehydration and traffic accidents. If this happens, don't worry about the cost: in Spain, unlike some countries, your EHIC will provide coverage for ambulance travel.
If you have called a doctor – maybe because of an accident at a hotel or an incident of food poisoning – and they refer you to a hospital, make sure it is not a private hospital before you go. It is not unknown for state doctors to make private referrals, and although private care is covered on a family vacation insurance policy, it may not be – and this has never been covered by EHIC.
Adults and children are sometimes prescribed medication when they get sick on vacation – for example, broad-spectrum antibiotics for acute infection (e.g., bacterial chest infections) or perhaps antihistamines in the event of an unexpected allergic reaction.
Regulations are not free in Spain, so if a family member is needed and is covered by EHIC only, you will have to pay 40% of the cost of completing them. This is rarely a very big expense, since the most commonly prescribed medications are relatively affordable, but it is still worth knowing if your family holiday covers prescription holidays. If you bring some older family members on vacation, they should not have to worry about prescription costs as long as they can prove that they are EEA pensioners (retirees are not subject to subscription costs to Spain).
Overall, all EHIC owners traveling to Spain can be assured that it is fairly well covered by the high quality state healthcare system, but travel insurance is definitely still recommended in case you need a prescription or want access to private medicine (especially useful if get injured during busy times).