The majority of backpackers come from the Western World where the justice and prison system is struggling to contain those who break the law and get themselves arrested. We have all heard about Paris Hilton and Lyndsey Lohan spending roughly 2 minutes in Jail thanks to overcrowding, and many people show their frustration when inmates claim to be watching cable tv whilst simultaneously studying towards their degree. The politics raises many a debate.
It seems strange to have to mention this but not every country is as accommodating or lenient, which is why backpackers need to remind themselves that they are not invincible when it comes to the law. "I am a backpacker, I didn't realise" is no longer a viable excuse.
So, before you go backpacking, have a read of this just to remind yourselves of what to avoid to ensure that you don't have to spend the next thirty years sharing accommodation thirty times worse than the hostel you had been living in.
1. Insurance Fraud
You wouldn't do this at home and no matter how many other backpackers have got away with it, it really isn't worth the mass of legal fees and impending doom. If you need money, get a job or phone home.
2. Getting naked
There is definitely some bizarre intrinsic link between nudity and backpackers. Possibly something to do with the freedom of being away from your old boring life, I'm not too sure. However, if you want to get naked, by all means, go ahead. Most of us like the giggle and the filthy conversations but bear (pun intended) in mind where and when you strip. If you happen to be in public and anywhere near law enforcing officers, abort mission. Should you be so unfortunate as to get caught out make sure you have done your research as to whether or not the country you are in accepts cash deposits in exchange for your eternal promise to behave.
3. Being mean about a place
There are certain countries in the world that allegedly monitor derogatory things that you might or might not say about said country. If you are visiting one of those countries and you are displeased about various aspects of your trip it may be best to refrain from venting your displeasure until after your plane has taken off. And never insult the royal family in Thailand!
Toilets are there for a reason - to be used. However, there are moments when toilets are unavailable and you just cannot wait. Just be careful where you go and ensure that it is hidden. Not all countries are as understanding of the plain fact that you were drunk and did not want to wet yourself.
Both using and smuggling. Now neither are a good idea wherever you are in the world but it is each individual's own choice. Seriously though when it comes to drugs and airports, just don't do it. You will end up in prison and in some places lacking a limb or even dead. That is a come down you really just don't need. You are not Bridget Jones and you do not have a man who is in love with you, who just so happens to be a Human Rights Lawyer who personally knows various leaders around the globe.
6. Getting frisky in public
Sometimes you get the urge, most of us can appreciate this. However, there are countries in the world that really do not and find it offensive. Regardless of your own opinion these are also countries where you really do not want to upset anyone, so keep your hands to yourself until you get back to your room.
7. Treat police with respect
This is not always easy and many backpackers have come from Britain where it really isn't easy but yelling at the law never does you any favors. Try to remember that they do not want to know where you would like to shove their heads and do not care how drunk you may be at the time. Also try to remember that most law enforcing officers around the world carry guns, and it is always best to avoid upsetting anyone with a gun.
If your visa has expired, get another one or leave the country. There are no viable excuses when it comes to immigration no matter where you are. If you have no visa or it has expired then you shouldn't be there. If they march you to the airport and pop you on a plane, consider yourself lucky that they haven't put you in prison.
I think if you manage to adhere to most of these points of how to not get yourself arrested you should be able to enjoy your backpacking trip without the misfortune of coming face-to face with the law and the inevitable phone call, "Mum, minor problem..." I'm sure many of these points have conjured up images of famous stories widely reported around the globe, so please don't become one of them.