10 Tips for How to Avoid Issues with the Police while Traveling

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A Brief History

In July 2019, American rapper A$AP Rocky was arrested initially for aggravated, then for simple assault in Stockholm, Sweden, after an altercation in the street against Mustafa Jafari and another person that involved the America rapper and his entourage on June 30th.  Travelling is one of the most fun things to do, especially when it is for vacations; however, it may turn out to be your worst nightmare if you rub shoulders with the law enforcement system. In the recent past, there have been incidences with police brutality that have warranted people to be more careful to ensure safe travels.

Digging Deeper: How to Avoid Scuffles with the Police while Travelling

As a traveler or explorer, you can give more than a hundred reasons why traveling is important to you as an individual. Sometimes, it is all for sheer fun and adventure while other times it is for business. How can you avoid issues with police while on vacation? Here are some few tips you can use to be assured of safe travels.

1. Always carry your identification documents

Passport message found inside the United States passport.  Photograph by Kissimmee FL.

This is a must, especially if you are in a foreign country. Recently, I came across an essay on police brutality, which made me realize the importance of having your identification documents with you at all times. The essay gave details about how a tourist was brutalized by law enforcers for failing to produce valid identification documents. You would not want that to be you.

2. Research about the laws and regulations of your destination

French legal system.  Plan by Optimiste122.

When you are travelling outside the country, you need to understand what is illegal and what is not. You can use the internet for that. This will ensure that you are on the right side of the law at all times. After all, it is said that ignorance is no defense.

3. Never argue with the law enforcement officer

A reduced resolution screenshot of Eric Garner being tackled by police is used in an article intended for educational purposes per fair use under the Copyright law of the United States.  The original home video was shot by Ramsey Orta

Most cases about brutality arise when people decide to argue with the police. If you want to be on the safe side, fully cooperate with the officer. These officers have been commanded to use all means necessary to ensure that there are law and order.  If you read any essay on police brutality, you will find out that many writers discourage you from engaging in arguments with the officers. In as much as you have rights, it is important to be cool and composed.

4. Never resist arrest

A reduced resolution screenshot of Rodney King being beaten by LAPD officers is used in an article intended for educational purposes per fair use under the Copyright law of the United States.  The original home video was shot by George Holliday.

When you encounter the police, you have to cooperate with their demands; it is unlawful to resist arrest. All the essays about police brutality always start with suspects resisting arrest, which is a crime in many countries. You do not have to be a statistic of police brutality while traveling. Do not resist, even if you are innocent.

5. Do not let your emotions take control of you

The United States of America (green) and its diplomatic missions, including embassies (blue), interests sections, and other representations (light blue).  Map by Ithinkhelikesit.

This is one of the reasons why many incidents with the police escalate brutality cases. Even if it is a case of mistaken identity, remain calm and in control. Do not engage the officers trying to plead your case. Instead, wait until you can get a lawyer or embassy to help you out.

6. Make sure that you understand all the limitations of your visa

A United States visa issued in 2014.  Photograph by Alvaro molinas.

If you are a tourist, you will be you may have a tourist visa with some restrictions. To avoid any incidents with the boys in blue, respect and abide by the regulations of the visa and ensure that you do not overstay your stay; your visa could expire.

7. Never carry anything illegal or suspicious while travelling

No sharp objects sign at Gatwick Airport.  Photograph by Edward Betts.

Avoid carrying anything that may seem suspicious or illegal. Possessing such items may lead to the withholding of your travel documents, and in extreme cases, deportation. To avoid such situations, do not carry anything that is not allowed, especially to the airport or anywhere. Leave it at home or dispose of it.

8. Have a clear plan of where you are going

A statue dedicated to the traveler in Oviedo, Spain.  Photograph by Astur.

Police will arrest you for looking suspicious and lost. Therefore, you have to make sure that you know exactly where you are going once you alight the flight.

9. Never run from the police

Protesters running from the police during the first riot against the increase of the passage in São Paulo, 2015.  Photograph by AmandaLemosNeuroMat.

Whether you are scared or not, never make the mistake of running away. The situation might get worse, leading to you even being shot dead. Think like a cop and remain calm at all times. The police are there to help you if you need assistance, not scare you away.

10. File a complaint when you think that your rights have been violated

A police station in Mapo, South Korea.  Photograph by 사랑.

Do not take it up with the police when you feel like your rights are being violated. Instead, take the necessary legal action through the right channels and file a complaint, which should be easier than confronting the law enforcers; it will save you unnecessary drama.


As a tourist, never assume that you are safe from police brutality because you are a traveler. When you read any sample essay on police brutality, you will see that no one is immune. You need to take all the necessary measures to ensure that you have safe travels with no issues whatsoever.

Safe journey!

Question for students (and subscribers): Have you ever had any interactions with the police when traveling?  Please let us know in the comments section below this article.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Fruge, Patrick G.  How to Stay Safe While Traveling: 50 Tips to Enhance Travel Safety and Security.  P FRUGE TRAVEL, 2018.

The featured image in this article, a photograph by Frankie Fouganthin of outside the court just before the trial of ASAP Rocky on August 2, 2019 in Stockholm, Sweden, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.


About Author

Abdul Alhazred

“But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked. "Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat: "we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad." "How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice. "You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland