Traveling is good for you. It not only provides a great experience but also helps rejuvenate our minds. When we travel, it frees us from our daily responsibilities and allows us to witness how life is around the world. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), more than 1.32 billion people travel every year to their dream destinations. While most people are experienced travelers, a small percentage are newbies, who have no idea on how to behave when they are in unfamiliar territory. There are also people who believe that when you travel to another country, the laws don’t apply to you. Sadly, the laws are the same for everyone and some acts can get you fined or even arrested overseas.
Throughout history, there have been several cases where people have committed innocent crimes because they simply did not care to educate themselves on the do’s and don’t’s. We however, have gathered some information regarding acts that can get you in trouble overseas. From taking photos to eating in public, here are 10 surprising acts that you should never perform when you are traveling.
1. Hiking in flip-flops in the picturesque seaside villages of northern Italy could cost you $2,800.
Flip-flops are often associated with summer and travel. However, wearing flip-flops or high heels in some Italian villages can get you into a lot of trouble. Visitors who wear the summer footwear to the Italian seaside resort of Cinque Terre could face fines of more than $2,800. The rule was created by the city council after the mountain rescue units were exhausted from rescuing improperly attired travelers who find themselves trapped on the narrow trails that link the five picturesque seaside villages in northern Italy. Most tourists are unaware of the fact that the villages are separated by steep mountain trails and are ill-equipped when hiking those trails.
Tourists who find themselves lost or stranded on steep hills often end up calling rescuers, who are basically volunteers. In order to reduce the amount of people walking the trail without proper attire and equipment, the local National Park authorities began imposing hefty fines. (source)
2. Taking photos in Egypt and UAE can get you a hefty fine or even jail time.
Since the invention of smartphones, the world of photography is more accessible than ever before. More than 2 billion digital images are taken every day around the globe. However, there are many places that forbid tourists from taking pictures. For instance, in 2018, a British tourist was arrested in Egypt over an innocent photo. The tourist decided to capture a picture of the airport to post on social media, so he could let his friends and family members know that he is on vacation. Sadly for the man, the image captured a military helicopter in the background, which the Egyptian authorities considered to be collecting intelligence on the Egyptian military.
In UAE on the other hand, you are not allowed to take images of people without their written consent. Pictures of monuments, buildings, or strangers are frowned upon by the Saudis. The same law applies to the Eiffel Tower in France. While taking pictures of the tower during the day is allowed, it is forbidden to capture images of the landmark at night since the lights are considered as a work of art, which is protected under European copyright law. As long as the lights are off, you are fine but once the lights go up, it’s best to put the phone or camera away since they could be confiscated or you could be subjected to hefty fines. (source)
3. Collecting souvenirs such as pebbles and shells from the seashore.
Grabbing an item from your trip as a memento is a habit that almost all of us have. However, there are some people who collect sand, pebbles or shells to recollect those moments. While such acts seem harmless or innocent, they can have serious environmental effects. In 2018, Cornwall, a county on England’s rugged southwestern tip, was fed up with tourists nabbing pebbles from their precious beaches. So, authorities are now placing a hefty fine (as much as £1,000) for those who take the rocks.
The law was imposed after a holiday maker was found to have taken a bag full of pebbles since he thought they would look good in his yard. After tracking down the culprit, authorities notified him that he would be fined £1,000 if he did not return the round grey stones back where he found them. The man obliged and did not face any fines but since then, authorities have been strict with the souvenir policy. (source)
4. Taking a dip in a Roman fountain.
On a hot summer day, it might seem ideal to take a dip in a fountain or just soak your feet for a few minutes. While many countries allow visitors to perform such unsanitary acts, Rome is strictly against it. In fact, after many tourists submerged themselves into some popular Roman fountains, they have put forward a new law that prohibits anyone from bathing, swimming or simply soaking their feet in a Roman fountain. Not only is it unsanitary, but causes bacterial and algae growth in the fountains, which ruins its pristine condition. So, to stop people from performing such acts, Rome is cracking down on tourists and imposing hefty fines as much as €450 per violation. (source)
5. Eating in public in the Italian city of Florence.
Eating while basking in the sun’s rays and enjoying the view is one of the most touristy things you can do. As normal as the act might seem, after being fed up with tourists blocking the entrances to churches, banks and other businesses, the Italian city of Florence is now limiting people from eating in public. According to the new law, it is forbidden to eat in public during lunch and dinner hours, as tourists often like to setup picnics and block the lives of those who live there. Authorities tried several measures to deter tourists, including hosing down steps and sidewalks during rush hours, but it had no effect on the tourists. Currently, those who are caught eating in public and disturbing other can face fines of up to $800. (source)
6. Overstaying your visit at the Taj Mahal and taking pictures once inside the UNESCO World Heritage mausoleum.
Every year, more than 4 million people from all over the world visit the Taj Mahal. UNESCO has designated the Taj Mahal as a World Heritage Site and since then, the number of visitors have been steadily rising. The rise in visitors not only puts pressure on tourists who wish to take a selfie in front of the magnificent structure, but also puts strain on the workers as well as security personnel. On busy days, the Taj Mahal can receive close to 100,000 tourists, so the authorities tasked with controlling the flow of visitors decided to reduce the time a person can spend inside.
According to its official website, a visitor can spend a maximum of 3 hours once they are allowed inside. If anyone purposely or unknowingly overstays their visit, they will face a hefty fine when they exit its gates. Also, taking pictures inside the mausoleum is strictly forbidden. Those who are caught taking pictures will have their camera or phone confiscated and can also face hefty fines. (source)
7. Eating in public, riding bikes or wearing swimwear in public in Venice.
The City of Canals or The Floating City, is known for its beauty. More than 20 million people visit Venice, and some of them leave disappointed, since they are forced to pay hefty fines for acts they consider to be harmless. The surge of tourists has surely had an impact on the city but a small percentage of people would swim in the canals or recklessly ride bikes to save a few bucks. Tourists who eat in public also leave behind the remnants of their foods and drinks. This year, officials in Venice erected laws that prohibit such acts, and those who decide to break them, will face fines of more than €500. The new rules, known as Daspos, were approved by Venice city council and repeat offenders will be barred from returning to Venice forever. (source)
8. Taking plastic or plastic products to the idyllic Italian island of Capri.
This year, the idyllic Italian island of Capri erected a new law that prohibits visitors from brining single-use plastic products. Authorities were forced to enforce the law since the surge in tourists was leaving behind a trail of waste materials; especially single-use plastic products such as plastic bags, cups and bottles. Those who are caught with non-biodegradable plastic bags, single-use plastic plates, cups, straws and cutlery will face a hefty fine of €500 (£430). (source)
9. Making fun of the royal family or stepping on a banknote in Thailand can get you jailed.
More than 33 million people visit Thailand to find their purpose in life. The country is often called the “Land of Smiles,” not only because visitors love its natural beauty and historical riches, but also because of the country’s friendly people and fascinating culture. However, making fun of the royal family or performing acts such as stepping on a banknote can get you years of jail time. In Thailand, stepping on something is considered as the utmost insult. So, if you step on a banknote, which has the faces of the royal family imprinted on them, it is automatically considered as disrespect to the royal family. The country’s Lese-Mejeste law prohibits anyone from performing such an act, so be careful next time you plan a trip there. (source)
10. Wearing swimwear or showing affection in public in India and UAE can land you in prison.
In some Asian and Middle Eastern countries, wearing swimwear and showing affection in public is extremely frowned upon. Both locals and tourists are expected to follow the rules and those who are caught breaking the rules could face years of jail time. Some European countries are also following the same principle, and implementing dress codes to stop tourists from becoming a nuisance to the locals. (source)