Beware Strange Local Laws When Travelling
Travelling around the world can be a fantastic enriching experience that will be with you for the rest of your life. But there are some things you should study up on before you set out in a strange new land as some local laws might be very odd and catch the unwary, landing the traveller in a heap of unintended trouble.
Take for example the sad tale of the young Australian who crossed from the USA into Mexico by foot – a totally legal thing to do – but she failed to ensure her passport was stamped by a Mexican border official. A spot check on a bus weeks later found the stampless passport and she spent six days in jail before she was thrown out of the country. So double check you have got the right stamps in your passport.
Or the traveller who bought an antique sword at a Turkish bazaar only to be told by customs as he left that it was a valuable historic artefact and he could face 12 years in jail. He spent eight terrible days in prison before – and after much money in legal fees – it was established that is was all a terrible mistake and he agreed to leave the sword behind.
Beware travelling with unknown people who ask you to carry a bag for them as their baggage is overweight. In fact never carry anyone’s luggage but your own – they mean it when they ask whether you packed this bag yourself. Some folk have been arrested just for sharing a taxi with a person who later turned out to be carrying drugs.
Some local laws are decidedly odd but can land you in hot water. The Thai government has banned tourists from taking selfies that expose too much flesh, a pic that can land you in jail for five years. In fact women should brush up on local laws regarding wearing bikinis wherever they go – the tiny bit of material can have serious repercussions in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
Never stop on an autobahn in Germany where cars zip along at more than 130kph. Running out of petrol on an autobahn is illegal and can park you in jail for up to five years.
In Singapore it’s illegal to sell chewing gum. Bring in more than two packs and you can be charged with gum smuggling and be fined $5,500. In Rome and Venice it’s illegal to eat or drink at historic sites and there’s a law against feeding pigeons in St Mark’s Square. The pigeons are looking thin, but the square looks a lot cleaner.