In the same week that Vienna was named the world’s top city for quality of life, one unfortunate resident, bartender Edin Mehic, was fined €70 for burping near a policeman. Perhaps the two are connected. Perhaps life in Vienna is so damn perfect that the police would be completely redundant if they didn’t slap fines on people for uncouth bodily broadcasts. It’s either that or we live in a world full of trivial laws that are hard to comprehend and easy to fall foul of.
You guessed it – it’s the latter. Here are some you should watch out for.
Barbados: Don’t wear camouflage clothing
With the news that All Saints are back – finally – it’s only a matter of time until we see a resurgence in baggy camo pants and khaki belly tops. If you decide to celebrate the return of the UK’s most musically discerning girl band by digging up your old Gap outfits, then don’t, we repeat DON’T, rock those togs in Barbados. It’s against the law for anyone, even children, to dress in camo-gear or even carry any items with camo material. Only the army gets to do that.
Florence: Don’t eat near churches or monuments
This is an important one to know, because it’s hard to think of anything more touristy than sitting down on the steps of a city centre sight and having a picnic. Doing so, however, is a offence in some Italian towns, such as Florence, and you could be fined. Burping is OK, though. Italy actually has a burping festival. Police in Vienna, if you’re reading this: it could be a lot worse.
Denmark: Don’t turn your headlights off, ever
In Denmark it’s the law that you have to have your headlights on, dipped, even during the day. If you’re in a Danish car it should do this automatically, but it’s one to watch if you arrive in a foreign vehicle. Apart from that (and let’s face it, it’s hardly something to get flustered about) Denmark is one of the happiest countries in the world and we should all move there.
Saudi Arabia and UAE: Don’t kiss in public
Let’s face it: lawmakers anywhere in the world would make terrible party planners. But those in Saudi Arabia and the UAE are probably the biggest buzz kills around: kissing in public can get you arrested (in 2013 one couple got jailed for a year for doing so), cross-dressing is illegal, e-cigarettes are illegal and all sex outside of marriage is illegal. So, you know, watch yourself.
Maldives: Don’t bring a bible
Like Saudi Arabia, the Maldives is another hit holiday destination with strict Islamic laws. Here, it’s an offence to import materials deemed contrary to Islam, so bibles are definitely not allowed. Porn will also get you into trouble, so, um, leave both of those things at home.
Fiji: Don’t sunbathe topless
You could probably get away with this in some of the high-end resorts, but, for the most part, public nudity is out of the question, and this includes topless bathing. Locals are very much on board with this too. There’s a discussion on Tripadvisor in which a traveller recounts seeing a girl try to pull her friend’s top off in the water, at which point one of the native boatmen ran over screaming, “NO!”
Virginia Beach and Ocean City, US: Don’t swear
Maryland’s popular beach town Ocean City and Virginia Beach, Virginia, have both decided to clean up their coastlines in the last few years, bringing in bans on cursing and giving moms on holiday with their kids some serious backup in the process. While Ocean City opted for signs stating: “No profanity please”, Virginia Beach went for a spiral followed by a lightning bolt, a hashtag and two exclamation marks with a red strike across it. In 2014, 25 people got caught cursing on Virginia Beach, putting $6,000 in the city swear jar.
Barcelona: Don’t walk around in your swimsuit
Unless you’re on the beach, obviously. Apart from that, you face a fine of up to €500 for being naked, semi-naked or adorned in swimming clothes on the streets of the city. The law was passed in 2011 to stop Barcelona getting a reputation as a beach resort.
Germany: Don’t stop on the autobahn
It’s a serious offence to stop unnecessarily on a German motorway – and running out of fuel is not an excuse. You can face fines and driving bans for this.
Singapore: Don’t do graffiti (or chew gum)
Ok, graffiti is illegal in most places. But in Singapore it could get you caned, as two German tourists found out last year after getting caught tagging a train carriage. They also got nine months in jail. While you’re remembering not to do graffiti, also remember not to chew gum, which has been illegal since 1992. You can face fines or caning for this too, though there are exceptions for medical reasons. Tourists particularly should be careful bringing gum into the country: any more than two packs could see you charged with gum smuggling. It’s possibly the funniest sounding offence out there, but one year in jail or a £4,000 fine would probably slap the smile off your face.