Written by Emily Abbott

There are a number of cases that make it into the news which highlight a lack of awareness of foreign laws and customs which can have very serious consequences for the people involved. Each country has particular customs and specific laws, some of which we may struggle to accept are true. Ever knew that Vicks rub is illegal in Japan? That back-of-your-drawers’ classic for when the weather is gloomy and your sinuses crave the refreshing smell of that little blue pot is considered illegal because of the stimulants it contains. Meanwhile in Singapore, feeding pigeons could result in a $500 fine. Seem strange? Even closer to home, in Venice, giving a pigeon your leftover sandwich crumbs in St Mark’s Square could cost you dearly.

It’s not all gloom and doom though. While organisations such as Prisoners Abroad exist to help British citizens who may find themselves in situations like these, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is also a rich resource which many of us are not necessarily aware of. The suggestions below include a few ways to make sure you’re travelling trouble-free.

When in the UK

Wondering how you can easily stay informed about what’s going on in a country before travelling there? A simple and quick way to do so is signing up to the FCO’s email alerts. While selecting all alerts will result in a huge influx of emails, you can tick the relevant country you are interested in and receive an email as and when anything may occur.

When Abroad

If you are abroad and unsure of what help you can access, it’s worth consulting the FCO’s Support for British Nationals guide. The FCO has both embassies and consulates around the world, with larger countries often having several consulates, such as Egypt having an embassy in Cairo and additional consulate in Alexandria. Check out the Find a British Embassy page for contact details. It also provides a number for anyone abroad needing urgent help, as well as a separate number for family or friends in the UK worried about a British national abroad.

So, next time the travel bug bites and you’re packing your suitcase ready for an adventure, it’s worth spending the few minutes it takes to inform yourself on any country-specific laws to make sure it’s a holiday you remember for all the right reasons.