By Rachel Bosler

With the countdown to summer well on its way and wanderlust setting in from scrolling through the endless holiday photos on social media feeds, it is critical to read up on local laws and customs before planning a trip during the upcoming holiday season.

While many countries have strange laws that are not actively enforced (though peeing in the ocean is illegal in Portugal I highly doubt they’ve come up with way to monitor this), and many violations carry only a minor fine as a penalty, with the reality that 5,500 Brits are arrested abroad each year it is critical to know what can get you in more serious trouble on holiday.

Something as simple as having a tattoo of Buddha in Sri Lanka resulted in arrest and deportation for one British tourist in 2014, and the ban on chewing gum in Singapore means that selling gum carries a hefty fine and up to two years jail-time!

In addition to educating yourself on the different standards of behaviour when visiting a country that is not your own, be sure to check local regulations before you begin packing as items that may seem essential or for everyday use at home may be illegal elsewhere. For example make sure to not bring any camouflage print clothing if you are planning a holiday to the Caribbean or Zimbabwe as it is illegal there! In addition it is best to leave the nasal inhaler at home if traveling to Japan as under Japan’s anti-stimulant drug laws Vick’s Inhalers, some allergy and sinus medications, and painkillers containing codeine are illegal.

Whether your holiday plans consist of lounging by the beach, living the high life in the city, or exploring the countryside it is critical to educate yourself on the local norms in the country that you are travelling to. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) offer country specific travel advice for 225 countries and territories here and in partnership with the FCO, Prisoners Abroad have launched a Travel Aware campaign  to provide useful information for British citizens before they travel overseas.

Also, be sure to check out our Country of the Month campaign, drawing attention to lesser-known laws and customs in popular tourist destinations and afterwards test your knowledge with our Travel Aware Quiz

Staying safe abroad is important and when you are looking up local emergency numbers or whether or not the tap water is safe to drink in your holiday destination, make sure to also educate yourself on the local laws and customs. Educating yourself not only ensures you are not offending the locals and outing yourself as a tourist vulnerable to crime or scams, but also is essential to avoid fines or arrest. Make sure to always #TravelAware

Here’s some information if you or someone you know is arrested abroad