Most travelers know the importance of certain safety strategies, like picking the right travel insurance and learning how to say “pharmacy” in your destination country’s language. However, travel safety doesn’t stop there.
Before traveling abroad, it’s essential to know how to stay out of trouble once you arrive. Generally, that means adhering to the same rules you follow in your home country, but some foreign laws are a little more… unusual. Since we know you don’t have time to wade through dry legalese, we’ve broken down some of the weirdest ways you might get in trouble as a traveler around the world – plus, how to avoid them.
Antigua and Barbuda: Wearing Camouflage
Camouflage is never in style in Antigua and Barbuda, where wearing the print is considered an attempt to impersonate a member of the military. The crackdown came after multiple reports of attacks committed by individuals dressed in camouflage attire. While this law might sound a little silly, breaking it is no laughing matter. Travelers have described customs officials confiscating personal property ranging from a camouflage jacket to a camo-print suitcase (with all of its contents still inside).
Singapore: Chewing Gum
Make sure to check your pockets before traveling to Singapore, because bringing gum into the city-state is a crime. Exceptions are made for “therapeutic gum” (e.g. nicotine and dental gum), but bubble gum is a major no-no. If you do manage to sneak in a strip or two of Double Bubble, don’t even think about littering: there’s a $700 fine for spitting out gum on the street.
Venice: Feeding Pigeons
For decades, pigeons have used Venice’s most historic landmarks as outdoor toilets. In 2008, the exasperated Italian government decided to crack down on the pigeons’ presence. How? By criminalizing the sale and distribution of grain for the purpose of feeding birds. Anyone caught selling pigeon feed faces a minimum fine of 50 euros. While this ban has more of a direct effect on vendors than on tourists, visitors should do their best to resist the temptation to feed the pigeons of Venice. Otherwise, you might be on the receiving end of an irritated look from the polizia.
Greece: Wearing High Heels
You won’t be arrested for wearing stilettos to the club, but you should plan a different outfit for touring ancient Greek monuments. After archeologists found that high-heeled shoes contributed significantly to the wear and tear of ancient landmarks, Greece announced an official prohibition on the damaging footwear. The punishment for those who violate this rule? Walking barefoot around an archeological site. Don’t risk the splinters – just wear flats or sneakers.
Paris and Madrid: Trashing Your Metro Ticket
The metro systems in many European cities, including Paris and Madrid, require a ticket to both enter and exit the station. Even if you bought a flimsy single-trip ticket, you’ll have to keep it until you reach your destination. That little slip of paper is your proof of purchase, and if you don’t hold onto it, you may not be able to exit the station without paying a fine. Most metro stations have plenty of signs posted about this rule, but if you can’t read the language, you might not notice – and police officers are not known to take kindly to tourists’ mistakes.
Germany: Stopping on the Autobahn
Germany’s autobahn highway is best known for its lack of speed limits. Drivers are free to zip merrily along at whatever speed they wish – as long as that speed isn’t 0. Except in the case of an emergency, stopping for any reason is illegal on the autobahn. If you plan to drive in Germany, take this as a warning: pay attention to your fuel gauge and be sure to fill up before it’s too late.
United Arab Emirates: Kissing in Public
No one likes excessive PDA, but in the United Arab Emirates, even a quick peck on the lips is against the law. In 2010, a British couple was jailed for kissing on the mouth due to the country’s strict decency laws. Thinking of ending it with your significant other during your trip to the UAE? Make sure the break-up is amicable, because the Cyber Crime Law prohibits sending swears or insults via messaging apps and social media.
Glad you’re reading! Here’s an invite to gain access to our app.