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Why You Need To Take Extra Care When Visiting These Popular Tourist Spots
Traveling should be a relatively carefree experience for us all. But unfortunately, the world’s most popular tourist spots don’t always operate in the same manner as the towns and cities we come from. From the ancient city of Rome to the English countryside, rules and laws vary drastically, turning what could seem like an innocent act into an expensive fine.
But before you get annoyed at what sometimes seems like heavy-handed rules, remember they’re almost all in place to help keep these places as wonderful as they always were or to make living there as comfortable as possible for the locals. Always check local laws before your trip and help keep them amazing.
Here are ten of the strangest fines out there!
Sitting Down In Venice
Venice made headlines this month after two, as the mayor called them “idiots,” power surfed through the city’s canals. While both men were justifiably fined, it’s doubtful that most of us would be doing something similar. What you may not know is that sitting in some places is against the rules.
In an effort to reduce crowding, sitting is banned in hotspots like St Mark’s Square and the Rialto Bridge. The city almost went even further by banning sitting anywhere on the ground within the city, punishable by a $580 fine! While the full city ban never came to fruition, the previous hotspot ban remains. And definitely don’t eat or drink while hanging out there.
Venice is easily one of the most strict cities in the world for tourists, mainly due to its fragile structure and history. You can also be fined there for going topless, feeding the pigeons, riding a bike, swimming in the canals, and littering. Most of those have hefty fines of over 300 euros.
Italy as a whole is packed with similar rules. Florence bans eating in public places at certain times while being in Roman fountains is also illegal.
Drinking in Public In Amsterdam
This is an important one. Americans often have a distorted view of Amsterdam. Its seemingly relaxed stance on recreational drugs and its famous red-light district lead many to believe the city is the perfect party town. In reality, the city and its residents view Amsterdam as a far more chilled-out city. All of those seemingly wild aspects of its legal system are actually heavily regulated, and you can be fined heavily for disrespecting them.
Drinking or being drunk in public is not tolerated, especially for tourists, and the same goes for recreational substances. That’s what the cafes are for. Even in the red-light district, taking pictures of the workers is illegal. It’s a fully regulated industry, and regardless of your personal view, it has to be respected as such.
Taking Sand or Rocks As Souvenirs From Many Places
While that empty beach you found in Greece may be held fondly in your memory, be careful about taking a physical souvenir. Beaches across the world, in places like Hawaii, Greece, Italy, and the UK, have protected status for an array of different reasons, and taking sand or rocks from them is a punishable offense.
One French couple found this out the hard way in Sardinia when they tried to take 88 lbs of sand back home. They were arrested and faced punishment as high as six years in prison and a $3000 fine. While their case was extreme in volume, taking even a small amount can get you a fine. As a rule of thumb, just don’t do it. Opt for a postcard instead.
Chewing Gum In Singapore (kind of)
While the city-state of Singapore has a multitude of strict rules that help keep its pristine appearance in place, the chewing gum ban is easily one of its best-known. It’s just one law brought in by the mastermind behind Singapore’s meteoric rise, Lee Kuan Yew, who believed heavily in tidiness and cleanliness. His goal was to create “a first-world oasis in a third-world region,” as it was at the time.
It didn’t take long for Singapore to go above and beyond most western nations in many aspects of daily life. Singapore functions like a well-oiled machine, and in Lee’s opinion, it started with tiny things like gum. While it’s technically not illegal to chew it, the sale of gum was banned, and importing or smuggling it into the country was punishable with thousands of dollars and even caning.
The reality is that the risk comes from the country’s steep littering ban, which gum is viewed as a particularly annoying type of, thanks to people’s tendency to stick it places. To avoid smuggling rules, tourists can only bring in two packs for individual use.
Using a phone while driving in the UK
This is less weird and more common sense, but it’s something Americans will get caught on and pay heavily for doing so. Despite there being laws in the States regarding phone use while driving, the general consensus is far more relaxed than elsewhere. Some states still don’t have outright bans, and some even allow texting at the wheel. It’s not uncommon to pass ten cars on the interstate and see seven drivers glancing down at their phones.
In the UK, however, phone use while driving is taboo. Police are extremely vigilant when enforcing the law and can pull a vehicle over if they suspect a phone may have been used in any manner. The penalties can be huge and are set to get even stricter this year. Thanks to strict enforcement, UK drivers as a whole are far more respectful of the rules.
So be careful if you grab a rental on your next trip. Leave the phone in your pocket. And maybe take the habit back to the states, where almost 400 thousand injuries occur every year thanks to texting and driving.
Swearing in Australia
Despite Aussie’s reputation for dropping some heavy swear words on a regular basis, it’s possible to land a fine and even jail time if you’re caught doing it in the wrong place. According to the law, offensive language can’t be used “near a public place or a school.” In some states, the maximum fine is $21,720, and community service or, worse, jail time could be tacked on.
Those punishments are extremely unlikely, but it’s possible because swearing can sometimes be classed as disorderly and violent behavior. That usually involves some kind of threatening behavior as opposed to a casual swear word at the park, but it still pays to be aware of your surroundings. If there are a lot of kids or families around, maybe dial it back just to stay on the safe side.
Hiking naked in Switzerland
While it might seem like a funny idea to grab a memorable photo at the top of a mountain in the Swiss Alps, it’s best to keep your kit on. The Swiss government doesn’t find it funny at all and will fine you $100 for doing so. One man back in 2011 tried to fight his ban but failed in court. The rise of social media has made it even easier to go after anyone who does so, so think again before doing so.
The law emerged after a group of German nudists took a hiking trip, much to the dismay of a local alpine village, who promptly voted to ban the act.
Running out of gas on the Autobahn
The Autobahn is one of the most famous motorways in the world, and many rent a car in Germany just to try out speed-limitless driving. However, thanks to the high speeds found on the road, stopping is illegal, whether you run out of gas or not.
That makes it super important to keep track of your gas-guzzling while here. Although the fine is only around $34, that’s money you could be spending on a few beers in Munich that night!
Wearing Camoflague in the Caribbean and other countries
While that wonderful pair of camo shorts (are they really, though?) might seem perfect for your next trip to the Caribbean, you might want to think again. Wearing camo is actually illegal in a number of countries, including Antigua, Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines, Trinidad and Tobago, and Nigeria.
The reason for this is pretty simple – camo is reserved for the official military only. Some just want to mark the distinction between civilians, while others view it as a symbolic reminder of uprisings and that wearing it might encourage that again.
While you might not be fined, you’ll probably say goodbye to the offending piece. It’s not uncommon for them to get removed from checked bags too, so if your bag is late and you had camo in there, you know why.
Public displays of affection Dubai
This rule applies to many countries in the Middle East, but as Dubai is one of the most popular destinations in the world, it’s important to know that for all its modern trimmings, it’s still a drastically different place.
While significant progress has been made, evident in dropping the law regarding non-married couples living together, public displays of affection can still land you in trouble. While it’s not technically illegal, there are some grey areas that make it more complicated.
While hugging or holding hands can be acceptable, it cannot be construed in any way as sexual. What that means is a subjective opinion could impact your time there. If someone complains to the police that you were being sexual with another person, you could wind up in trouble. As a rule of thumb, avoid it where possible.
This article originally appeared on Travel Off Path. For the latest breaking news that will affect your next trip, please visit: Traveloffpath.com
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories