19 ways how to get around… without unpleasant surprises.

Even though COVID-19  impacted our lives and more or less confined us to our homes, quarantine time could also be the perfect time to aspire to some adventures, inspire your wanderlust and get you up and running for the upcoming projects you might undertake with AIESEC around the globe.  

As you might know, AIESEC is present in more than 120 countries. So before going to any of them, you are not ill-advised to look up and follow its laws and intrinsic rules! While some “no-go’s” might seem ridiculous and unnecessary, they could be pointing out some cultural values which might differ from your own! So here are 19 ways to be an exemplary world traveler.

1. Don’t be surprised if you “get a cobra” on a train in France.

Kissing is forbidden on French trains; it is allowed, though, at the train station but only just before the train arrives. So make sure you time your farewell kiss wisely. Did you know that there is another “kissing law” in Nevada that prohibits men with mustache from kissing women?

2. Keep your shirt on… seriously.

There is a law in Thailand that prohibits anyone from putting their shirt off while driving a car. So next time you are renting a car or a motorbike make sure to keep that in mind.

3. Hiking naked… it’s a thing!

The Swiss government had to remind its citizens that public indecency laws also apply to mountain hiking as well after some Swiss and German hikers made it “a thing”, fining a bare-bottomed man with $100.

4. Ready, set, fire!

A heads up if you are one of those people who love wearing camouflage attire: there is a law in many countries in the Caribbean that forbids it! So check the countries before visiting.

5. Just be sexy. 

This one is exclusively for men. If you want to wear loose-fitting trunks on French beaches, swimming pools or other places where swimming attire is needed, you probably won’t get to swim at all. In France, only Speedos are allowed for hygiene reasons! 

6. Pigeons and breadcrumbs… Are you sure you want to do it?

While tourists are waiting amidst the numerous pigeons on St. Mark’s Square in Venice to get the perfect Instagram picture, the yearly cost for each citizen to clean up after the pesky birdl rounds up to 275 euros per year. This considered, the government prohibited feeding the pigeons in 2008. So just spare yourself the fine.

7. Sightseeing in high heels.

In Greece, high heels are banned from places like Acropolis or any other ancient monuments out of fear of causing damage.

8. Have a prescription to chew!

Any manufacturing, selling or importing chewing gum in Singapore is forbidden. It could get you fined or even imprisoned unless your “chewing” has a medical or therapeutic purpose.

9. Just plan your last loo time.

In some flat blocks in Switzerland it is forbidden to flush the toilet after 10 pm, because apparently some residents get disturbed by it.

10. Take care of your chicken!

Yeah, sure, we all like to casually pet chicken. Just don’t take it with you for a hot-air balloon trip in New Zealand…there is a law restraining you from it. But make sure you don’t leave it wondering freely if you are staying in Georgia (Quitman); chickens are prohibited from crossing the street.

11. Sharing bathrooms.

There is a law in Scotland stating that if anyone should knock on your door asking for a toilet, you should let him use it. How considerate!

12. Show some decency, Winnie!

If you have some Winnie the Pooh shirts tucked in your backpack, make sure you don’t wear them in public in Poland. The cartoon bear isn’t wearing knickers, so it is considered inappropriate.

13. It is illegal to wear a suit of armour in British Parliament.

We all have this one suit of armour lying around at home for that trip to London, which is fine, just don’t go to the British Parliament wearing it. There is a law from 1313 which prohibits it; but since it is not as fashionable as in the Middle Ages, the British government won’t revoke it. Because why would they?!

14. Registering to a hotel room reconsidered.

A law in North Carolina states that if a man and a woman register together at a hotel and say they are married, they would by the common law marriage rules legally be considered just that, married. 

15. Taking an Uber in Colombia

 This is a weird one. Uber is illegal in Colombia because they failed to register as a taxi company. Maybe consider using a regular city cab instead.

16. When not to ask for time.

Think twice before asking for time in Madrid between 3:40 PM and 6:50 PM, as there is a socially accepted ban of “time-asking”. This isn’t an official law, though, but wearing a watch might spare you the looks

17. Hanging your underwear outside in Seville

If you are spending your holidays in the state of Seville next summer, make sure not to hang your underwear or any “suggestive attire” outside.

18. Selfie with Buddha?

In Sri Lanka turning your back to Buddha is considered disrespectful and it is also punishable by law. So selfies are a big no-go in sacred places.

19. Be a responsible driver!

When driving on the German motorway, make sure you don’t run out of gas because you will end up paying a fine. And if you want to quickly walk to the petrol station to get some spare gas, you might be advised to restrain yourself. That’s prohibited as well.

Are there some weird laws and rules I missed? Feel free to comment and add your own experiences with strange laws. Remember, empowering others is an AIESEC leadership skill; so let’s keep our criminal records clear.

Written by Klara Pahor