Everyone has a to do list when they go travelling, there wouldn't be any fun without one.  The "not to do list" is the one below; as you don't want to hand over your valuable travel fund to a foreign authority for dropping a sandwich crumb in front of a pigeon in Venice, or spend your leisure days reclining in a jail because you happened to kiss a friend goodbye in Dubai.

The do not do when travelling list:

Airbnb - not a hotel alternative in some cities

This type of accommodation for intrepid souls is predominantly illegal or has limits on the length of stays in cities such as Santa Monica, Paris, New York, Singapore, Amsterdam, London, Barcelona, San Francisco, Berlin and Dublin.  So check out the city's policies before you go booking that long stay unless you like hiding in closets.


Don't think you can hide your alcohol, sex toys or dirty magazines in your luggage when you go to the Maldives.  It is primarily an Islamic country, so you may be subjected to a thorough bag search and a fine with a smarmy airport official relishing your red face even if you can travel to Maldives on a budget


Don't even contemplate having a game of poker that involves money or marked chips, as gambling is banned in India. You can be fined or jailed for up to 3 months.


If you are going to Barbados for that luxurious holiday of a lifetime, make sure that you haven't packed any clothing with a "camouflage" edge to it.  Wearing camouflage of any description is totally banned in Barbados and you can be fined or mistaken for a gang member.


No chewing gum is allowed in this neat freak city.  You can't even bring it into Singapore with you, as you will face being fined up to $100,000 (SGD) and a prison sentence.

Other actions considered to be against the law include dropping litter, smoking in public, jaywalking, spitting, eating or drinking on the metro, flying a kite if it interferes with the public, walking around your hotel naked, annoying someone by playing a musical instrument or feeding the pigeons and you must always remember to flush the toilet!  If you happen to be a repeat offender (after a few fines) you will be given a jail sentence. 

Even though Singapore rates the best airport in the world every year, remember this is the country with the death penalty for drug smuggling.

Weird and Wacky Laws that Affect Travellers - Don't Chew Gum In Singapore

United Arab Emirates - Dubai and Abu Dhabi

You have to join in with the locals in the United Arab Emirates during Ramadan and fast.  Yes, that means don't eat on the streets whatsoever; even if you have a really bad case of the tummy rumbles.

Both Dubai and Abu Dhabi have public decency laws, which ban public kissing or touching.  So no patting your missus on her rear end, or vice versa, when you are out seeing the sights.  You can be fined or even jailed if you transgress their sense of decency which includes such actions as being drunk in public, dancing in the streets, flipping the bird with your finger and heaven forbid that you should have sex before marriage.  Having an illegal drug in your system is enough to send you to jail.  In other words, be on your best behaviour.


Even tourists are subject to the law of " lèse majesté" - don't insult the king of Thailand or members of the royal family. This includes failing to stand for the national anthem, swatting mozzies with a Thai baht note or standing on a note, as the King's face is on their currency.  Just remember to stand up whenever everyone else around you does, even if you don't know the tune to the national anthem. Here are 17 more shocking facts about Thailand.


Always keep a copy of your passport on you at all times as you have to be able to identify yourself when asked by a person in authority in heaps of countries such as Germany, Hungary, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria and Spain.


It's illegal to wear a mask of any description in Denmark, so forget about this dress-up accessory if you are there during Halloween.


Not sure how they enforce this law, but you are not to pee in the ocean.

Weird and Wacky Laws that Affect Travellers - Don't pee in the ocean in Portugal

Image: Marius Popescu @ flickr

United Kingdom

It is illegal to hail a cab if you have the plague, a rabid dog in tow or a corpse under your arm.  Obviously London cabbies take offence easily.


Always make sure you have plenty of gas in the tank before entering the autobahn in Germany, as you are not allowed to stop at all, unless you want to get fined that is.  Yes, that definitely rules out walking on the highway as well.

A quick bit of advice for those that like to play dress-ups, it is totally illegal in Germany and Austria to impersonate or glorify Hitler in any fashion, so get rid of that moustache before you leave home.


If you happen to hire a car to drive or be the designated driver for friends whilst in Spain, remember not to have flip-flops on whilst behind the wheel, as it is illegal.

Spain is also the land of "no spitting"; so think twice before you indulge in this disgusting public display of "hoikerism".

When in Barcelona it is illegal to be in the public eye wearing only a bathing suit.  Ok you can on the beach, but not once you step off the sand.


Another country obsessed with your footwear.  High heels and archaeological sites do not mix and you will be fined.  Think of the pressure in that heel digging into ancient stone and multiply it by the hordes of tourists that frequent historical sites. Keep your Imelda Marcos attributes away from the relics of the past.

Weird and Wacky Laws that Affect Travellers - Parthenon, Athens, Greece

Image: Dennis Heller @ flickr

Paris and Madrid

Don't even think about tossing out your metro ticket as you may be ambushed by authorities and fined.  You will need your ticket to exit the underground.  The alternative is to buy a multi-trip ticket, so that you aren't tempted to throw it away.


Don't feed the birds in St Mark's Square in Venice (yes those flocks of pigeons that poop everywhere including on your head). Apparently this traditional pass-time has been banned due to the birds' vandalism via their claws and droppings on those beautiful old stone buildings.  The penalty:  a fine plus probably a bit of embarrassment at being singled out.

If you wish to make mayhem by singing and dancing in the streets of Rome and there are more than 3 of you, you will have to get a permit to execute this frivolity.

Rome's stunning landmark water fountains are not to be used as wading pools, even in sweltering heat.  You will get fined for this travesty.

The licking, slurping or gulping down of any food (this includes scoops of gelato) at any of Rome's historical monuments, is a big no no.


So now that you have the run down on what you can't do in some countries, be on your best behaviour if you wish to survive your travels with your money intact and without being branded an ex-con.

Gail Palethorpe, a self proclaimed Australian gypsy, is a freelance writer, photographer and eternal traveller. Check out her website Gail Palethorpe Photography and her Shutterstock profile.