The Importance of Observing Local Customs in Other Countries

When we go on holiday, it is a chance to unwind and relax. Unfortunately, when letting their hair down, some people take that to an extreme and break the law. It can be bad enough to do this in your own country, but breaking laws in other nations is even worse. Often times, it occurs simply because of ignorance. It is important to remember when traveling that a behavior deemed acceptable at home may not be proper overseas.

This topic came to the fore again recently when a group of tourists from Canada, Britain, Norway, New Zealand, and the Netherlands was charged with “dancing pornographically” and taking pornographic photos while vacationing in Cambodia. Based on the admittedly incomplete evidence available to news outlets thus far, the dirty dancing in question hardly qualifies as such by the standards of their home territories. However, in a much more conservative land like Cambodia, this is a violation of local obscenity standards. Authorities were able to see the photos (also tame by Western standards) because the people in question posted them on social media. Police there say the ten people detained will face charges, but no other details were available as of this writing.

You may have heard the phrase “Ignorance of the law is no excuse” and it applies when you’re on holiday as well. It is your duty to learn about the land you are visiting, and what is or is not allowed, and adhere to those standards.There are many books and websites with such information. You can also ask your travel agent or contact the appropriate embassy before departure.

Think of the way you behave as a guest when visiting friends. They no doubt have things that they don’t consider acceptable in their home; foreign countries are the same way and have the absolute right to dictate such rules.

Banning Plastic Bags

Do you use plastic bags? If you live in the western world, chances are you use them quite a bit, probably more than you realize. This reliance on disposable plastic is causing an ecological disaster that threatens us all. Gigantic masses of garbage, much of it plastic bags, are choking waterways, threatening sea life, and throwing off the balance that Mother Nature has maintained for millions of years.

While some have taken to reusable cloth bags for their purchases, it has not been enough to stem the tide. Consequently, some cities are banning plastic bags altogether, most recently Montreal. This is an excellent start, but many more municipalities need to follow suit before there will be any real impact.

There also needs to be more action on the part of individual citizens. Here are some steps you can do that require little cost or extra planning:

Buy Reusable Cloth Bags

These are highly affordable and available from most retailers right at the checkout lane. Make sure to keep them handy in your vehicle so you remember to take them into the store.

Decline Plastic

Even if you do forget to bring the cloth bags in, decline the cashier’s offer of plastic bags. Take the items out to the car in your grocery container and put them into your cloth bags.

Re-Use and Recycle

It was common for people to bring items home from the store in plastic bags and then toss the bags into the garbage. Reuse plastic bags as many times as possible. Once they have reached the point where this is no longer possible; recycle them. Never simply put them into the trash.

Also, contact your local politicians and ask that a plastic bag ban be put into effect in your city. Or, at the very least, a plastic bag tax that will cause others to wake up and switch to cloth as a way of saving money.