Anyone who has done a lot of travel understands that travel-related bureaucracy falls into its own special category of weird and unusual. The bizarre questions you get asked on customs forms or during the immigration process can leave you scratching your head, and now a new survey has revealed the truly wacko questions that are sometimes asked during the visa application process.
A poll by a visa submission website asked travelers to recount the most unusual questions they had ever been asked. Among the strangest, was a question on a Mexican visa form asking the applicant to “describe their beard/mustache.” The responses applicants could choose from included “scanty,” “bushy” or “clipped.” Meanwhile, a man traveling to a Middle Eastern country was asked “how many wives do you intend to bring?” during his application process.Some seemingly odd questions may have a rational basis for being on the application form — Australia, for instance, which takes quarantine very seriously, asks if travelers “have been to a farm in the past six weeks.” Others just boggle the mind. Several travelers were asked, “What side of the bed does your wife sleep on?” when applying for a U.S. visa, while those heading to China were asked about the reason for visiting, with “visit” being one of the available responses.
Those behind the survey say that while the questions may seem weird to us, it’s simply a sign of cultural differences, and travelers should be careful not to joke when filling out visa forms or answering immigration questions.
Tell us, what’s the strangest visa question you’ve ever been asked?
The Henley & Partners Visa Restriction Index ranked countries around the world based on how freely their citizens could travel with just a passport. The United States came in 2nd place, tying with Denmark, Germany and Luxembourg. American citizens can enter 172 countries without having to worry about red tape, according to the study.So what is the best passport to have? A British, Swedish or Finnish passport is as good as it gets, giving passport holders access to 173 foreign destinations visa-free. In general, being a member of an EU country helps a lot if you want to travel spontaneously, with nine out of 10 of the top countries all part of the European Union.
Some countries however, are not so lucky, with citizens in Lebanon, Nepal and Pakistan finding themselves towards the bottom of the list. Iraqis, unsurprisingly, are expected to jump through a lot of hoops to travel abroad, and have access to just 31 countries visa-free. And the country with the most restrictions? Afghanistan, whose people have passport-only entry to 28 nations around the world.
Getting arrested is probably far down the list of most people’s travel concerns. After all, we’re usually focused on checking museums and monuments off our bucket list — not engaging in illicit activity. But seemingly innocuous behavior can get you into trouble in many parts of the world, including things like wearing bikinis and chewing gum.
The British Foreign Office has released a warning about strange foreign laws after a report revealed that nearly a third of Britons seeking consular assistance were arrested or detained abroad. They say many travelers don’t realize that activities that are perfectly legal at home could get you locked up or fined in another country.
A few of the unusual foreign laws they highlighted include:Venice: It’s illegal to feed pigeons here.
Nigeria: Taking mineral water into the country could land you in hot water.
Singapore: Chewing gum on public transit is a big no-no.
Japan: Watch out if you have allergies. A lot of nasal sprays are on this country’s black list.
Wondering what other laws could get you locked up abroad? Here are a few more we rounded up:
Dubai: Kissing in public could land you in jail in this conservative country.
Thailand: Stepping on the local currency — which bears the image of the king — is seen as disrespecting the monarch and could get you arrested.
Greece: Wearing stilettos at archaeological sites in Greece will get you into trouble. The pointy shoes are banned because of the damage they cause to the historic monuments.
Germany: It’s against the law to run out of gas on the autobahn. Stopping unnecessarily on this fast-paced high way is illegal, and that includes those who forget to fill up their tank.
What other unusual foreign laws have you come across?
Traveling often involves eating things you’d never imagine ingesting at home. Fried tarantulas, grilled bull testicles, ant eggs, fish eyes… the list of unusual foreign foods goes on and on. But one thing we’ve certainly never imagined would make the list is human toes. However, that’s exactly what an American man ate over the weekend, during a peculiar drinking game in Canada.
According to the tradition, you’re expected to plonk the pickled toe into a beer glass filled with a drink of your choosing and ensure the toe touches your lips as you chug down your booze.
The drinking ritual has been taking place at the Downtown Hotel in Dawson City, Yukon for more than 40 years, but few have dared to swallow the toe. Doing so is frowned upon and will earn you a $500 fine. But that didn’t deter the American tourist who gulped the toe down along with his beer on Saturday. The man made off with the pickled digit lodged firmly in his digestive tract before the bar owner could stop him.The bizarre drinking game apparently started back in the 1970s when a local riverboat captain came across a frostbitten toe while cleaning out a ship cabin. It’s thought the toe was already about 50 years old at the time. In the years since, about 60,000 tourists have taken part in the strange custom, with a few brave souls chowing down on the gnarly body part. The first toe was apparently swallowed in 1980 and altogether about 15 toes have been lost or consumed. Where exactly the other 14 toes came from, however, is anyone’s guess!
While early explorers may have spent countless weeks plotting their journeys on maps and charting the best course to get to their destination, it seems many modern day travelers don’t have a clue about where they’re actually going.
A new study has found massive numbers of travelers can’t find their vacation destination on a world map. When asked where Cyprus was located, 53% of respondents were stumped, pointing to countries like Greece instead. This is despite having traveled to the Mediterranean island within the past year. Turkey also had recent visitors scratching their heads, with around half of those surveyed hard-pressed to locate the nearly 1,000 mile long country on an atlas.What’s most bizarre, however, is those people who seemed to have trouble locating their own country on a map. When asked where France was, a surprising 14% of French respondents pointed to their northern neighbor Belgium.
But perhaps we shouldn’t be so hard on the French. After all, remember this famous gaffe a few years back, when a Miss Teen USA contestant was asked why a fifth of Americans couldn’t locate the US on a world map?
But it’s not just beauty pageant contestants that are stumped by geography. Even politicians can get tripped up, like in this interview where John McCain refers to the problems at the Iraq/Pakistan border…which doesn’t exactly exist.
And then there was the time that President Obama managed to visit all corners of the US, including “about 57 states”.
Do you think it matters that so many people are confused by world geography? Or is understanding maps irrelevant in this day and age of GPS and technology?