As international travel begins to resume, some will be jetting off to enjoy the sun at the first opportunity while others will take more tentative steps towards that first holiday abroad. If you do choose to travel, remember that along with new rules on entry requirements and COVID testing, it is important to read up on lesser-known laws and local customs to avoid getting into trouble.

Take a look at these ten countries from our previous Travel Aware campaign, including articles written by our Student Brand Ambassadors (SBAs). Please be aware that holidays to some of these countries are not permitted under the current restrictions. If in doubt, be sure to visit the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) website for travel advice.

1. Germany

In the last year we supported 26 British prisoners in Germany.

Though generally considered culturally similar to the UK, there are subtle differences that, if not considered, could land you in trouble.

Read Rosie’s (SBA) tips on understanding Germany’s local laws and customs and visit the FCDO website for Germany travel advice.

2. Portugal

Portugal was one of the first countries to be added to the UK’s ‘green’ list for travel in 2021, though it was later removed. 

Portugal has always been a popular holiday destination for Brits. Gaby Heaton (SBA) writes about what she learnt living in Lisbon about the little-known Portuguese laws. 

While you’re here, why not also read Lily’s (SBA) blog with further tips for what to watch out for in Portugal. 

3. Jamaica

All prison sentences are served in Jamaica and prison conditions are harsh. Read Guyanne's (SBA) blog about what it is like to be jailed in Jamaica. 

There are penalties for all drug offences, including those involving marajuana ('ganja'). Every year many British nationals are arrested for attempting to traffic ganja and other drugs.

Read the FCDO's travel advice for Jamaica and check out Isobel’s (SBA) blog about avoiding trouble in Jamaica. 

4. Cambodia 

If you’re arrested and convicted of a crime in Cambodia you can expect a long prison sentence. Pre-trial detention can also last many months. The conditions in Cambodian prisons are extremely poor and overcrowded. Read Guyanne’s (SBA) blog about what life looks like inside a Cambodian prison. 

Ensure you are up to date with local laws and customs before you go and read Kiana’s (SBA) blog about staying out of trouble in Cambodia. 

5. Indonesia 

Indonesia, particularly Bali, is a popular tourist destination. Boasting rich culture, incredible food and stunning scenery, Indonesia has something for everyone. Naina (SBA) shares some top tips for making the most of your trip and staying out of trouble. 

Don’t get involved with illegal drugs. Possession, trafficking and manufacture of any illegal drugs are serious offences in Indonesia. The Indonesian authorities have a zero-tolerance policy and police often raid venues (particularly in Bali) known to be frequented by foreigners. Be sensible when travelling and read the FCDO's advice.

6. USA

In the last year we supported 254 British prisoners in the USA. Read Desmond’s story about being deported from America in 2016 after serving a prison sentence there.  

Many British people travelling across the pond are drawn in by the vast and varied scenery, exciting food and melting pot of cultures. However, be aware that it can be easy to get caught out by complex laws that also often vary between states. Michaela (SBA) writes about laws surrounding marijuana and how to avoid committing a drug offence, which could carry a hefty prison sentence.

7. New Zealand

Despite being added to the UK’s ‘green’ list of countries in May 2021, New Zealand’s borders remain closed to almost all international travellers.

A destination famed for being the filming location of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, boasting beautiful scenery and vast wildlife, New Zealand has been a popular backpacker destination for some years. There are strict entry requirements, however, and rules on what you can and can’t bring into the country.

Read Emma’s (SBA) ‘How to Travel’ guide for New Zealand and make sure you stay #TravelAware.

8. The Netherlands

British nationals make more than 2 million visits to the Netherlands every year, half of whom are visiting Amsterdam.

The Netherlands has a reputation for being tolerant on some drug usage, particularly marijuana, but it is important to remember that possession, buying and usage of drugs outside a few designated spaces is illegal and carries a prison sentence. There are even movements to ban foreigners from Amsterdam’s ‘cannabis cafes’.

Read Rhian’s (SBA) blog about how to enjoy a trouble-free break in Amsterdam.

9. Thailand

Prison conditions in Thailand are incredibly harsh, making it all the more important to stay out of trouble. Possession of drugs is a serious offence carrying severe punishments, including the risk of the death penalty.

Thailand is a very popular destination for backpackers due it’s value for money, rich culture and awe-inspiring landscapes. As a Buddhist country, Thailand boasts incredible temples. Travellers should remember to act respectfully when visiting these sites. Read Matt’s (intern) blog about adhering to the law and respecting local customs during your next trip to Thailand.

10. India

India is a colourful and diverse country which is becoming increasingly popular for tourists. There are delicate laws to be observed surrounding alcohol, drugs and wildlife so be sure to read the travel advice before you go.

Eve (SBA) writes about some of the challenges female solo travellers may encounter during their trip. 


For more information and advice, read about Prisoners Abroad’s Travel Aware campaign.