London - Going travelling? Here's a list of things it's important to remember, according to the US Department of State''s Bureau of Consular Affairs: passport, travel documents, money, bags.
Oh, and conventionally sexist standards of beauty, of course. You don't want to forget those.
The US Department of State was forced to issue an apology on Wednesday after posting a tweet which suggested that unattractive people are more likely to be robbed when abroad.
The tweet - which read: “Not a ''10'' in the US? Then not a 10 overseas. Beware of being lured into buying expensive drinks or worse - being robbed,” - has since been deleted after it was accused of being sexist and offensive, with many critics taking to Twitter to condemn or lampoon the bizarre advice.
Naturally, it wasn't long before parody accounts popped up tweeting similarly ridiculous guidance. “If you are a ''3'' in the United States you must carry a “hand-written”letter of apology with you in order to travel,” read one tweet, while another joked: “Before travelling, if you aren't certain whether you're a 10 a good test is to ask yourself if you've ever felt bad looking at a magazine.”
The ill-judged advice was, however, initially well intentioned. The Bureau of Consular Affairs has been running a campaign advising youngsters heading overseas for Spring Break (a weeklong holiday for US students) on how to stay out of trouble when they go abroad. The department has since reiterated that the aforementioned tweet was originally meant as a warning against foreign scams initiated by either flattery or alcohol - or, perhaps, both.
Interestingly, though, it transpires a number of other countries' authorities have, in the past, issued equally unusual advice for citizens travelling to America. Bureau of Consular Affairs, take note.
Germany, for example, proffers this useful tip for its wanderlusting, and perhaps overzealous, citizens: “In the US, repeatedly following or repeatedly harassing another person, called 'stalking', is punishable by law.” German authorities, perhaps wisely, also remind German citizens that in some US states nudity is considered “indecent exposure” and classed as a criminal offence. So, you know, keep your lederhosen on, folks.
The Chinese government warns its citizens heading to the US to 'take good care of flowers and trees' In China, travellers to the US are rather sweetly advised to “take good care of flowers and trees” when in America, as well being as warned not to push into queues. “Failing to observe this convention could lead to unnecessary disputes,” the Chinese authorities caution.
Curiously, Russian citizens are reminded by their government that in some parts of America “the majority of people prefer to keep their doors closed”, which is useful advice for travelling Russians who might be concerned or offended by the US's closed-door policy.
Russian travel advisories also get quite sassy about the classic “American Dream” ideal, telling Russians that in the US “inequalities in socio-economic status between rich and poor are no lesser than in any other country in the world.” Ouch.
Meanwhile, Austrian citizens - accustomed to the clean, fresh taste of alpine water - are prewarned about the unusual flavour of American tap water. “Tap water is usually considered - albeit not very tasty - but is safe to drink,” scoff the Austrian authorities.
Perhaps unsurprisingly though, a number of countries notify their citizens about America's infamous gun policy. Canada reminds travellers that “the possession of firearms and the frequency of violent crime are generally more prevalent than in Canada”, while Germany explains just how easy it is to obtain a gun and wisely advises tourists: “Should you be the victim of an armed robbery, do not try to fight back.” And that's advice we should all probably adhere to.