Digital nomads are no strangers to cultural differences. As we travel, our world-views are constantly shifting as we have encounters with unique, and sometimes bizarre ways of life. What seems to remain constant is the moral compass that we abide by throughout life, and this is often a reflection of how we were raised and the laws we were brought up to follow. Nomads need to keep in mind that morals and laws are just as subjective as culture. And as such, travelers will benefit from remembering these countries’ stranger-than-usual laws as they make their way around the world!
Singapore: Gum Chewing
To keep surrounding areas of the city clean and inviting, Singapore has adopted an unusual law. Popping a stick of gum has been banned since 1992, unless it’s used for purposes like curbing smoking (nicotine gum). Trying to sell packs of this popular breath freshener can even land you a 100,000 SGD fine.
Hawaii, USA: Billboard Bans
In most parts of the USA, these large advertisement tools are scattered along frequented roads in spades. But Hawaii, in all of its spectacular beauty, considered the repercussions of huge billboards blocking the views that people spend thousands to enjoy. This island state has since banned these scaffoldings to keep the natural landscape and its wildlife intact.
Milan, Italy: Frowning in Public
The city of Milan has a particular law in its history books, which for some reason still stands today. The regulation requires citizens to refrain from frowning in public unless they are at a funeral or hospital. While the origins of this old law aren’t very clear, the hilarity of it is hard to beat. Rest assured though, the likelihood that a traveler would actually get punished for frowning on their morning market stroll is slim.
France: A Pig named Napoleon
Nomads visiting the home of croissants and romance may encounter a bit of history that still lingers in the law books of the present. Some French citizens disliked Napoleon Bonaparte, the self-proclaimed first emperor of France. To curb any stirs of discontent that might embarrass the monarch, the law that French pigs cannot be named Napoleon was established. Weird flex? Yes. Will you think about it the next time you eat bacon? Maybe.
Brazil: Banks and your Cell Phone
Digital nomads traversing Rio may find themselves in need of additional funds as they travel. Long-term stays may even spark the interest of opening a bank account. To lessen the rate of crime, the government has stated that using your cell phone inside of Rio banks has been made illegal.
Western Australia: A Potato Weight Limit
Ah, the potato. The miraculous food that is delicious in basically any shape or form. Its popularity is hard to beat and has remained throughout history a staple in sustainment, particularly during the Great Depression in AU. Western Australia law books still have remnants of these struggles in effect, stating that one person can’t own more than 50kg of potatoes once. Ration your French fries, guys, or you may end up with a fine of up to $5,000.
Egypt: Sharing a Room
Adventurers have listed the pyramids of ancient Egypt on their bucket list for many years. Unfortunately, the climate of political unrest in this region prevents many from visiting. Daring travelers that refuse to be dissuaded should pay mind to the various laws that pertain to the opposite sex. One, which can get you reprimanded, is that you must not share a room with a native Egyptian of the opposite sex unless you are married.
Russia: Social Media Regulations
Be careful what you share on your Facebook page as you explore Russia. While it isn’t necessarily a crime for travelers, anti-government ideals can land locals in big trouble with law enforcement. Censorship of citizens has eased up a bit over the years, but can still be seen today in what platforms they have access to.
Switzerland: Flush on Time
Apartment dwellers need to be timely when they “do their business” in some Swiss buildings. The ban states that you must not flush your toilet after 10 pm, as it can disturb other residents. Travelers needn’t worry too much though; it has become more of common courtesy and less of a rule over the years.
Share with us the most bizarre laws you’ve encountered on your travels in the comments below!