Travelling abroad to a country or continentyou’ve never set foot in before is undoubtedly very exciting, but there may also be a touch of trepidation at taking that step into the unknown. Customs, of course, very wildly from country to country – in some you can inadvertently offend by showing the bare soles of your feet, for example, but this won’t get you in to serious trouble the way other misdemeanours might, whether they are committed inadvertently or not. The consequences for various dangerous activities undertaken outside the UK can lead to anything from a ticking off to the death sentence.

Public displays of affection

If you’re travelling to the Arab states, it’s worth reading up on the attitudes and laws to public displays of affection there. In Dubai for instance, kissing in public along with any other form of familiarity won’t win you any favour with the locals. Men should wait for women to extend their hands to be shaken, and not offer theirs first. Both male and female homosexuality is illegal in all the Arab states. Gay and lesbian travellers in Russia and Jamaica should also refrain from any public displays of affection whatsoever.

Religious holidays

If you’re travelling to the UAE during Ramadan, you can be fined or jailed for eating during daylight hours, as it is considered a form of disrespect towards Islam. Some Islamic states may well have restaurants that remain open for visitors during this time, but even then, discretion is key.


Firstly, never agree to carry anything through customs for anyone under any circumstances. You mayroll your eyes at the suggestion that you’d ever be so stupid, but the financial rewards offered for such a huge risk have seen many Brits abroad lose all sense of reason and go through with it. While many Western democracies would punish you with a jail sentence, countries in south-east Asia will show no such leniency and have no qualms about sentencing drug traffickers to death.

Be discreet and polite

This is a good a philosophy to live by generally but especially so when you’re abroad. Discretion is this sense means not drawing excessive attention to yourself and becoming vulnerable as a result. It means not looking and behaving quite so obviously like a tourist too as you could be reprimanded severely for something such as snapping away with your huge, gleaming new camera in a place where photos are forbidden or become the target of local muggers who will see only a wealthy Westerner, whether you’re minted or not; leave your jewellery and best spanking-new trainers at home.

Be wary on public transport

This is especially true for women travelling alone – or even women travelling in small groups, in some cases. Never take unlicensed taxis and be wary on public transport such as buses, trains and underground systems. On buses, sit near the front if possible. On trains of any kind, try and take a seat in the busiest carriage in the middle of the train and avoid lingering on badly-lit and lonely platforms etc. If possible, it’s best to hire a car.

It is not only worth reading up extensively on the country you are planning to visit, so you can enjoyyour holiday without worry, but also to get the address and phone number of your consulate or embassy there – especially if the country is politically unstable. If you do find yourself in a situation, you can contact them easily along with the no win no fee lawyers at Jefferies Solicitors.


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