Check local laws before you travel

January 22, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO, CA. Jan. 22, 2010/ Bon Voyage / — Sometimes, when you travel, you may find some strange laws, at least they may seem strange to you. They are perfectly logical in the country you are traveling to, however.

But while you may think they’re a little funny, if you break some of them, you may not be laughing for long. It is really important, if you can, that you know what they are ahead of time.

While some minor infractions may be overlooked in some countries, things you don’t even think about may result in costly fines, or even get you in serious trouble and might even land you in jail!

Using common sense

Much of the time we’re talking about common sense things here, but you might run into some strange laws that you just never thought about and ignorance of the law won’t help you in some cases!

Go to government websites to check before you go on your trip. Look under “Local Laws and Customs” on the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office website. On the Australian and U.S. government sites, check under “Travel Advisories.”

At one time even HAVING chewing gum was illegal in Singapore. Now tourists can have it, but don’t chew it and spit it out on the sidewalk. They are watching, and it could result in a big fine. They’re serious about keeping things clean and orderly. Even leaving a public toilet un-flushed could cost you. And don’t even think of jay walking.

Jaywalking is a tricky one anywhere. When we travel we cross at a crosswalk and wait for the light (even with no traffic). It only costs you a few steps and a few seconds, which is much better than landing in big trouble.

When you fly into Dubai, you may purchase duty-free liquor to take into the country, but be careful where you drink it and where you travel. You can take it to your hotel room or to friends if they have a liquor license, but don’t even think about drinking it on the beach.

Drug laws are very strict in the Emirates too. You even need to be careful of medications. Some prescription drugs and even some over-the-counter drugs are considered narcotics. Carry your doctor’s prescription and leave the drugs in their original container, especially if they contain codeine.

In most Muslim countries, men and women shouldn’t hold hands when they walk around in public. And, whatever you do, leave the magazines with sexy pictures at home.

In Thailand, criticizing the King is illegal and for heavens sake, don’t drop any local money and inadvertently step on it: It has a likeness of the King! It’s also illegal to drive shirtless, so guys, while this may seem like a strange law, if you rent a scooter at the beach, keep your shirt on.

We all know you are not supposed to leave your baggage unattended in the airport, but in the UK it is illegal.

Don’t hang out with shady characters in Morocco: If you are with someone who possesses narcotics, even if you’re unaware of it, you can be tried for possession.

In Mexico it is illegal to shout offensive words in any public place.

Don’t run out of gas on the Autobahn

In many countries, it is illegal to take pictures of police officers, military officers, and military installations. Always ask or check on that one.

In Australia, you can get a ticket for leaving your keys in an unattended car. In Germany, it is illegal to run out of gas on the autobahn. It is also illegal to walk along the autobahn, so be sure your tank is filled up!

Reading up on strange laws before you travel  won’t only give you a giggle: it could save you money or keep you out of jail!

Do you have a story about your run-in with laws in other countries? Leave a comment below.

This article is FREE to use on your websites or in your publications. However, Troy Media’s Bon Voyage, with a link to its web site, MUST be credited.

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