What To Avoid When Travelling Abroad

Whether you are about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime or just looking to get away for some end-of-summer sun, you will often need to be cautious when abroad. It’s important to let your hair down and relax, but always try to educate yourself before travelling to a foreign country, particularly if they have a very different culture from your own.

Some countries and even regions within countries have some very unusual or unsuspecting do’s and don’ts which, if they are not adhered to, can land a jolly traveller in some serious trouble. Follow this guide to find out the ones we think you are most likely to not know about. This might help you avoid any international confusions, trouble with the law and even potential fees and fines in some of the world’s most popular destinations.

Alcohol – Around The World

Alcohol is perhaps the easiest way to get yourself into trouble and is outlawed or heavily restricted in 14 countries in the world, primarily on religious grounds. These include:

  • Maldives
  • India (some regions)
  • Bangladesh
  • Yemen
  • Sudan
  • UAE (Dubai)
  • Brunei

If you are travelling to these areas, you can still go but be respectful of their rules. For example, in the Maldives, alcohol consumption is prohibited for natives but not for guests of the resorts, so you can still enjoy a glass of wine with your meal. Similarly, countries that restrict alcohol because of religion often serve the non-Muslim community without any trouble. Do your research before you travel to ensure you are safe.

Other notable drinking laws that many overlook includes the minimum drinking age in Thailand, which is 20. This law leaves many 18-19 year olds looking for fun at a full moon party sadly disappointed. The legal drinking age is 20 for Japan and Iceland, too.

Chewing Gum – Singapore

This is often cited as one of the most unusual laws in the world. Chewing or bubble gum has been illegal in Singapore since 1992. This law is based on the $106,000 spent per annum on cleaning up the litter and damage caused by gum, particularly to the public transit system.

Singapore is renowned for being one of the cleanest cities in the world. The price you pay for littering and chewing gum can be This could lead travellers to reach for an instant loan to get themselves out of trouble which could throw their whole travel budge off-balance.

As the go-to stop off for Brits travelling to Australia, other laws in Singapore that a might catch you out when travelling include using WIFI without permission. There does not seem to be an individual law for this offence, but it’s better safe than sorry!

Wearing Camo – Caribbean

Wearing camouflage is outlawed in many Caribbean islands. As a current fashion trend and a revival from the early noughties, this is something many visitors to the stunning Caribbean islands could run into political and financial trouble with on their travels. Camouflage materials and clothing are prohibited as a result of a crack down on gangs acting as officials from the army or police.

When the law is explained, it makes sense. The rule applies, in varying severity in the following Caribbean nations:

  • Jamaica
  • Barbados
  • Antigua
  • Trinidad & Tobago
  • Grenada

Grenada seems to take the law the most seriously and insists that any uniform-replicating attire is offensive and can be punished by a year in jail or a fine of up to 10,000 East Caribbean Dollars, approximately £2400 (circa 2013).

Wearing Beachwear On The Street – Barcelona

Laws in Barcelona came into action in 2011 to prevent holidaymakers roaming the Spanish city in just their bikinis. It comes as part of the city council’s attempt to improve the image and quality of the city, allowing restaurants and other businesses to enforce and “maintain standards”.

Fines range from £100 – £262 for “semi-nude” offences and £265 – £440 for pure nudity.

The restrictions to not apply to the beach, the beach-side promenade and the street that runs adjacent to the beach. This means you can usually get a drink, an ice cream or make it back to your car without worrying about pilling on the clothes, but don’t be surprised if there are very prominent ‘No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service’ signs on beachfront eateries.

Certain Shoes – Athens

To ensure the archaeological sites can continue to be visited by travellers from around the world, the Greek government have put a ban on anyone wearing high heels to a performance or visiting the Odeon, the Epidaurus Theatre and other sites. This is because the effect the heels have on the ancient monuments.

The offence is not punishable by a fine, but you could be refused entry. Food and drink consumption are also heavily restricted, and you might not gain access to a performance if you are considered drunk.

Gambling ‘Equipment’ – Thailand

It is illegal to own or be seen using playing cards in Thailand. Whilst many reports suggest that the laws differ slightly, The Playing Card Act was established in 1935 but is still enforced today. The act decrees that anyone visiting in the country (or indeed living there) are prohibited from owning 120 playing cards. This is because it is considered illegal gambling equipment and this many playing cards would suggest illegal activity. The Thai laws can be extremely strict and there are lesser known bans on poker chips or anything that could be considered ‘gambling equipment’.

Gambling and placing bets on sporting events or similar are also strictly prohibited. The rules come as the government attempts to ‘crack down’ on crime and corruption. Those who attend illegal casinos on a night out in Thailand could find themselves being detained by the police.

Other laws to take note of in Thailand, include;

  • As a visitor you must be able to present formal identification when asked by an official

Responsible travellers investigate the place they are planning to visit before they leave for their travels to avoid fines or any trouble and focus on their We have only picked out some of the quirkier or lesser-known laws or regulations. Before travelling to a destination you are unsure about, consider contacting the country or local tourist board before you travel. The most accurate information is always available on government websites, Thailand even have a dedicated section on their website to educate you before you travel!

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