• Rita M. Perez

Traveler, don't break these laws!

Did you know, simple things we take advantage of here in the United States, can be illegal in other countries? Observing the customs of the country or countries you are visiting is courteous and appreciated, but did you know that there are some “unexpected” laws in several countries that could impact your wallet…or worse? Here are few of the craziest and most unexpected laws you want to avoid breaking when you're overseas. 1. Not Flushing a Public Toilet in Singapore Singapore likes to keep its streets and facilities clean. Neglecting to flush could cost you $500! Littering could cost up to $1000 and being caught chewing bubble gum can get you for $600! While the only penalty is a stiff fine, it’s probably a good idea to respect the city’s wishes and keep that gum at home…and remember to flush (everyone appreciates that, not just the law). 2. Feeding those pigeons in Venice For many years, it has been a tradition for tourists to turn themselves into human statues in St. Mark’s Square by holding out a handful of birdseed or breadcrumbs…but, sadly, that practice is now illegal. Those who violate the rule can be fined up to $700. The residual from the overfed pigeons (aka pigeon poop) is actually damaging the statues and building facades in the historical city. I'm not too upset about this law because getting "christened" is never part of my travel plans :) 3. Wearing Camouflage in the Caribbean St. Lucia is a gorgeous Caribbean island, often called the “Hawaii of the Caribbean” because of its lush tropical greenery and dramatic mountain landscapes. But, did you know it is illegal to wear any form of clothing with camouflage on it? Same with Barbados, Jamaica, and St. Vincent. Reason being is that only members of their military are allowed to wear camo. So leave the camo at home…and bring that nice tropical shirt instead! 4. Wearing stiletto heels in Greece or Rome Okay, it’s not illegal everywhere (although I don’t know why anyone would want to navigate cobblestone streets in spike heels), but if you show up to an ancient Greek or Roman site in high heels, you may have to remove your shoes and tour barefoot. In order to preserve the sites, the governments have banned shoes that could do damage to the ancient monuments. That includes the Acropolis (Parthenon) in Athens and the Colosseum and Forum in Rome. 5. No PDA in the United Arab Emirates! Public displays of affection (kissing, hugging, or even holding hands) should be avoided while traveling in the UAE…even it’s the main city of Dubai. Tourists have been arrested and thrown in jail for kissing in public. And, did you know that it is technically illegal for non-married couples to share a hotel room? A little harder to enforce, but a law, nonetheless! 6. Going “commando” in Thailand Thailand has many strange laws, but perhaps the most difficult to enforce is the law prohibiting leaving your house without underwear on. Make sure you take that into account when packing or plan on washing your unmentionables frequently so you don’t run out! It’s unclear to me how this could be enforced, but I don’t think I’d want to find out what the inside of a Thai prison looks like. .. would you?

So, be sure to familiarize yourself with some of these strange and baffling laws before you travel. I appreciate my clients greatly, but I really don’t want to add “arranging bail” to my list of services! Happy Travels, Rita

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