We travel to different countries to have new experiences, wash our eyes and take in fresh sights. But every culture has its quirks, so if you prefer tasting the best local cuisine to learning a new legal system, follow the laws, however absurd they may seem to you as an outsider.
We're products of culture and conditioning, so what seems strange in one place may make perfect sense in another setting. You don't have to approve of everything you see abroad, but you do have to follow the rules in the places you visit. So take a minute to review this list of 10 laws, compiled by Smarter Travel, that might strike an American as strange and that you should be aware of if you're going abroad.
Don't Feed the Pigeons. Also:
When in Venice: You may be tempted to feed the pigeons who gather en masse in Piazza San Marco but resist or risk paying fines.
Gumming up the Works in Singapore: Tired of cleanup costs that chewing gum and related littering caused the public transport system, Singapore outlawed the stuff. While there are exceptions for therapeutic purposes, in Singapore you're better off smoking.
Booze and Smut in Muslim Maldives: This chain of tropical islands in the Indian Ocean bans booze and porn.
Gambling in India: Making a money wager over a game is gambling, and that is banned in India. You can play cards and other games, but don't bet on outcomes or you might find yourself in more than just financial trouble.
Drug Possession in Southeast Asia: Most countries regulate drug possession and distribution. But few have penalties as severe as Southeast Asian destinations like Bali, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines, where drug traffickers face execution.
Transport Ticket Toss in Europe: While you will not be arrested for tossing out your metro ticket in Paris, you might have to pay your fare again, plus fines, when you reach your destination. Some European cities, including Paris and Madrid, require you to present your ticket at the beginning and end of the ride.
Propagandizing in China: Avoid offensive political discussion in China and be aware that what you might consider a harmless topic could be seen as propaganda by the Chinese government.
Camouflage in Barbados: Take your fatigues and other military-style gear out of your bag before you head to Barbados. Camouflage is outlawed in that country to prevent gang members from impersonating soldiers.
Kissing in the UAE: Travel is romantic but don't lock lips in public, or hold hands, when you're in the United Arab Emirates.
Bathing Gear in Barcelona: Make sure to cover up when wandering around Barcelona, even if you've just come from the beach. Failure to do so means you risk fines ... and a lot of local stink eye.