Customs and customs

Respecting the rules abroad

Today's globalised world grants travellers the amazing ability to go and experience utterly alien cultures, all in an incredibly quick space of time. Before you jump on the plane and enjoy a holiday away though, it pays – quite literally – to ensure that you're completely aware of the rules and regulations that govern that particular neck of the woods. Simply heading to a country and acting in the same manner as you would back home can be insulting to the locals, and indeed dangerous, from the point of view of your own safety.

Customs regulations

Different countries across the world allow or deny the bringing or taking away of all sorts of goods, so always check the customs website of the country you are visiting.

Common goods that often cannot be brought in to countries include meat, vegetables, alcohol, and weaponry, while when you're exiting a country there may be restrictions placed on the volume of liquor, confectionary, or tobacco products being taken. Always check what the rules are, otherwise fines or even jail time could be levelled against you.

Local laws

All across the world there are strange and often confusing local laws and regulations that need to be obeyed, even by tourists. To make sure you don't find yourself on the wrong side of these, first be aware of the basic religious and cultural rules that are followed in your host nation. In Dubai, for instance, unmarried couples are forbidden from displaying affection in public, and alcohol is illegal unless served in a hotel or resort.

Some rules only apply to tourist sites. In Greece, women are forbidden from wearing high heels at the many historical sites that dot the nation, as stilettos could harm the ancient structures, and visitors to Venice can also be fined for feeding the pigeons.

There also might be a number of more niche laws followed in your host nation. Going commando is illegal in Thailand, for example.

Unwritten rules

Always try and gauge the mood of the particular culture you're exploring. In some countries, taking an excessive number of pictures is frowned upon, and so too is the taking of photos at sensitive locations. Negative gestures, rude words, and local etiquette rules should all also be observed and kept in mind. As an example, in many Asian countries, rubbing chopsticks together before a meal is a seen as saying the cutlery is cheap!

Not too sure of the rules? Search the net for cultural guides related to your particular country, and ensure that you're in the know.

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