By Olivia Shortall

Heading to one of the many festivals abroad this year? Great decision – you’ve got a choice of a lot of different festivals out there. From the fashionable festival of Coachella (California, U.S), to the biggest electric dance music festival that is Tomorrowland (Boom, Belgium), to the bass vibes from Outlook Festival (Pula, Croatia), there’s sure to be a line up perfect for you! Thinking about doing drugs though? Maybe you need to read this to see why that might not be the best idea:

To be very clear: if you are caught with illegal drugs in a foreign country, their laws will apply to your case, not the laws of Great Britain. According to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office(FCO) and charity Prisoners Abroad, depending on the crime and the country, if you are convicted you may face a sentence ranging from fines and jail time, to years of hard labour or even the death penalty.

Despite recreational marijuana now being legal in the state of California (home of Coachella festival), other drugs such as cocaine or ketamine are still very much illegal and can result in heavy jail time, over a $1,000 fine and the risk of being deported. In Thailand and China, the penalty for some drug crimes is execution. Is your life worth a temporary high one time?

If anything it’s more dangerous to try drugs abroad – you have even less chance of knowing who you are buying from, what exactly it is that you’re taking or what is in it (not saying that you would necessarily know this information if you were to buy drugs in the UK). It goes without saying that drugs can be extremely dangerous so you need to make the decision if it’s worth the risk of ending up in hospital or even the chance of death – that’s not exactly going to give you a happy festival experience.

Any health incidents abroad can be scary, not to mention the risk of ending up in a hospital somewhere with poor conditions – not all countries have the same health standards as the UK and not all hospitals abroad understand English either! This is why travel insurance is key if you are thinking of making any trip abroad – without it, in a medical emergency, you can be left with a hefty medical bill e.g. a fall resulting in a broken hip, treatment in a Spanish hospital with return flights cost £15,000. The best advice: ensure you take out appropriate insurance – some insurance policies are voided when you have broken specific laws of the country you are in.

Remember if you are thinking of jetting off to a music festival abroad, check the rules and laws of the country you are visiting before you go – just because something is legal or acceptable in Britain, doesn’t necessarily make that legal in another country. The FCO website gives useful advice for every country including an outline of their laws and policies – it’s always best to know before you go!

As Prisoners Abroad’s CE says:

“It takes a matter of minutes to look at the advice the FCO has to offer; minutes that could save you months of grief by preventing you being detained for something you were unaware was a crime.

People should enjoy themselves when travelling and come home with happy memories that last a lifetime, not having served a sentence that will take a lifetime to forget.”

Be safe, do your own research before you go but most importantly have fun! Festivals are once in a life experiences, so make the right choices and it can be a time you’ll never forget, for all the right reasons!

Read about the 10 best musical festival in Europe. #TravelAware