Traveling is a lot of fun until you do something that will land you in hot waters. Every country, and every city for that matter, has its own customs. While tourists will rarely knowingly disrespect locals’ culture they may end up doing so anyway.
Most travelers stay out of trouble with local law enforcement, but mistakes happen. There is a whole new pool of legal tests to negotiate when you’re traveling to another country.
Different people have different understandings of what is impolite, normal or offensive.
Every person in the world will sympathize if you want to wear eight pair of pants and ten shirts so you don’t have to pay extra fees for luggage, but the airline will likely not find that amusing. One person who tried to pull this trick was denied a boarding pass and was arrested when he refused to leave.
This may be the most famous incident of tourists being arrested for something that wouldn’t be a criminal offence in the U.S. Their crime, according to police, is “pornographic dancing.” Ten people from different countries were arrested for allegedly posing in sexually provocative positions.
A British couple was on a 47-day sightseeing tour in China. They were in their hotel room watching a BBC documentary about Genghis Khan, founder and first Great Khan of the Mongol Empire. Police thought it was a terrorist video and saw the video as “propaganda material.” The couple was arrested and spent a week in prison before the misunderstanding was cleared.
A British man was sentenced to three months in jail for putting his hand on a man’s hip. He says he put his hand out so he won’t bump into anyone and spill drinks. He was arrested for public indecency.
While you may be OK showing your buttocks on a busy street, absolutely do not attempt to see what will happen if you do that at a scared site. Two American tourists did that at Bangkok’s Wat Arun; they were arrested and fined for public indecency. They were also blacklisted from going back to the country.
Those who take care of the 2,000-year-old arena will call the police on you. Two women from California are just one example of people behaving badly at the Colosseum. They were arrested for carving their initials into a wall with a coin. The charge of aggravated damage on a building of historical and artistic interest carries a fine of more than $20,000.
It won’t take you very long to climb to the top and witness an absolutely stunning (and different) view of the pyramids, but this is a very risky move. It’s illegal. Once you get to the bottom you are likely to be arrested, as one German tourist was. The Great Pyramid is open to the public, but they can’t climb the structure.
Gambling in any form is illegal. Authorities may say they have reason to believe you plan to engage in such activity if you carry too many cards in your luggage. Two Australian tourists were arrested for playing bridge and held for 12 hours. The law states that no one can carry more than 120 playing cards.
This may not be a surprise to people who are familiar with the conservative, especially when it comes to language, city in the UAE. Profanities and any form of vulgar language are not tolerated. They are considered to be obscene acts and those committing them can be fined or jailed. An Emirati man spent a month in jail for insulting another man on Instagram.
Do yourself a favor and find a trash can. Throwing chewing gum on the pavement may lead to an arrest and a fine of about $455. Jail follows if you “forget” to pay the fine.
Cows are scared in Hinduism. Killing one can lead to years in prison or even a maximum sentence of life in prison in the state of Gujarat. You can kill buffalo cows only after they no longer produce milk. Sometimes locals take matters into their own hands. News of people beaten to death by a mob after being accused of killing a cow is not uncommon.
Hawaii is not another country, of course, but this is worth mentioning. Some people are ready to do whatever it takes for the “perfect selfie,” including risking their lives or going to jail. When Mount Kilauea erupted in May, many thrill seekers were caught going close to the lava and taking selfies. Dozens have been arrested and fined. Roadblocks were even set to deter photographers, but they didn’t work.