Traveling is a great way to release some pent-up stress, unwind, and generally have a good time. But one wrong move could easily ruin your holiday trip. It’s all fun and games until you come in conflict with the law.
Being involved in a legal crisis isn’t good. It’s even worse if it happens while you’re traveling in a foreign country. For one, the laws would be different. Second, the language barrier could make it more difficult for you to reason with a police officer or law enforcers. And, most of all, securing a reliable lawyer would be difficult.
According to Ryan Gibbs, there are various destinations that are great for family trips and scenic getaways. While no one wants to get in legal trouble while touring Italy, for example, it’s still best to be prepared for the worst. So, in case you get involved in a legal crisis during your travel, here’s what you can do:
1. Contact The Embassy
Once you’re arrested in a foreign country, officials would ideally contact your embassy. If they won’t take the initiative, you can make the call yourself. So, before heading out to a foreign nation, make sure you keep a record of your embassy’s number in your phone contacts. You never know when you might need it.
The embassy or consular office may be able to help you by making sure that you get access to legal assistance. Officials could even arrange for safe and prompt deportation. Most of all, embassy officials and representatives can check and make sure that you’re afforded your rights while in detention.
2. Call A Trusted Family Member Or Friend
Whether you’re traveling locally or internationally, you need to inform at least one family member or close friend about your ordeal. If you’ve been in touch with embassy officials, they can also contact your immediate family on your behalf. However, it’s also best to talk to them personally to alleviate their worries. So, make that phone call count!
3. Reach Out To A Nonprofit Organization
There are various nonprofit organizations that are staunch advocates of travel safety. You can reach out to these organizations to ask for help and assistance.
The members of nonprofit organizations can help educate you about local laws and the options you can take to resolve or secure a compromise for your case. They may also be able to provide a translator and legal assistant who can help you communicate better with local law enforcers.
4. Avoid Overexplaining Yourself
You must make use of your right to remain silent, especially if you’re dealing with foreign officials who might misunderstand your tone and language. As the saying goes, “Less talk, fewer mistakes.”
Sure, you can give brief details about your personal information, like name and nationality, and the circumstances that led to your legal trouble but avoid saying too much until an embassy representative or lawyer arrives.
How To Avoid Legal Troubles While Traveling
The principle ‘prevention is always better than cure’ is also true when it comes to legal repercussions–it’s easier to avoid legal troubles rather than dealing with one. So, aside from making sure that you have proper travel documents and valid visas, you must also take note of the following:
- Do Your Research – While most rules and regulations are universal throughout various cultures and countries, some do have stricter protocols and special rules. For example, Singapore is very particular about cleanliness. Hence, they prohibit spitting in public places. Another example is Germany, which prohibits the Nazi salute. Certain hand gestures can also be deemed offensive in Middle Eastern countries.
So, before you visit another country, make sure to do your research and read their laws, culture, and basic history.
- Use Public Transportation Or Hire A Local Driver – While it seems tempting to rent a car and drive around your dream destination, this also poses a huge risk. You never know what could happen on the road. If you’re unfamiliar with the traffic rules of the place, you can easily end up with a series of violations.
As much as possible, just use public transportation or hire a tourist driver while on holiday. This will avoid you from incurring personal liabilities in case of accidents and traffic violations.
- Retain A Lawyer – The embassy cannot give you legal assistance, but they can only make sure that you have access to one. Therefore, it’s best to have a lawyer on call. Retaining a lawyer is costly, but if you can afford it, then might as well have one.
Being a paying client, your lawyer can focus on your troubles and could even follow you to your destination with just one call. You may ask your travel insurance company about this. Most of them don’t cover legal assistance, but they may be able to refer you to a reliable lawyer.
Everyone wants to guarantee themselves a good time while traveling. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your due diligence before hopping on a bus, train, boat, or plane. Wherever you may travel to, there are always laws to be observed. While rules and regulations may vary from place to place, some principles are universal, one of which is ‘ignorance of the law excuses no one.’