The United Kingdom offers an array of iconic landmarks, hidden gems, and unforgettable cultural experiences for travelers coming from across the pond. While English is spoken in most places around Great Britain, it doesn’t mean that there are no differences between the U.K. and the United States, or other parts of the world where English is the official language. If you’re not aware of the cultural norms and etiquette before you go, you’ll end up showcasing your tourist status and possibly making a bit of a fool of yourself.
Luckily, the mistakes that most first-timers make in the U.K. are easy to avoid. Keep reading to find out what they are!
10 Forgetting Your Rain Gear
The United Kingdom is one of the rainiest places in the world. If you go there without bringing any rain gear with you, you’ll probably regret it. In general, many Brits don’t even leave the house without an umbrella, and while summer is a glorious time in the U.K., it’s fleeting.
Sure, you could always buy a raincoat, umbrella, and some water-resistant footwear once you get there since they have plenty of options to buy. But do you really want to spend your time shopping for rain gear when there are so many things to see and do?
9 Being Unprepared For British English Vs. American English
Of course, they speak English in many parts of the United Kingdom but don’t make the mistake of thinking that British English an American English are the same things. Be prepared for several words that you’ve never heard before, and phrases said in a different context from you’re used to.
For example, in the U.K. they say, “Are you all right?” where Americans would say, “How are you?” Don’t think they’re implying that something isn’t right with you. It’s just an informal greeting that catches many Americans off-guard. Also, potato chips are crisps.
8 Heading Straight To Paid Attractions And Ignoring Free Ones
It’s true that there are endless amazing paid things to do around the United Kingdom, but many first-time visitors head straight for all of the expensive landmarks and forget all about the free ones. Especially since the U.K. isn’t the cheapest destination in the world, it might be an idea to include a combo of free and paid attractions in your itinerary.
Off the top of our heads, in London alone, you can visit the British Museum, the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, and the National Gallery for free
7 Paying Too Much For British Fare
You’ll definitely want to sample some traditional British fare while in the U.K., but the problem is many food outlets prey on tourists wanting to try the iconic foods, and boost up the prices. It’s a good idea to know how much you should reasonably expect to pay, so you know when you’ve stumbled into a tourist trap that’s trying to rip you off.
Our sources tell us that you should never be paying more than £5 for the classic favorite fish and chips. In some touristy places, you’ll find that they try to charge you double that, so it’s good to be aware of how much things should cost.
6 Only Visiting London
Plenty of tourists make the mistake of only visiting London when they travel to the United Kingdom. While London should certainly be on your bucket list if you’ve never been to the British Isles, it definitely isn’t the only gem worth seeing while abroad.
In England alone, there are several other cities, towns, and villages that you’ll want to include in your itinerary. The problem is narrowing them down! And of course, you’ve also got three other countries besides England to see while you’re in the U.K.—Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
5 Bypassing Wales
Even when foreign visitors do venture outside of London and check out the rest of what the United Kingdom has to offer, they often forget all about the beautiful land of Wales. But there’s no reason to bypass Wales when traveling the U.K. It’s, a stunningly beautiful country with its own language, and is definitely worth a visit.
Many people do speak Welsh in Wales, but you’ll find that the street signs are also displayed in English, so you’ll be fine. Also be on the lookout for sheep, since the country is home to three times the amount of sheep as people.
4 Making Eye Contact On Public Transport
Whether you’re taking the iconic Tube in London or a train to another city, there’s a certain etiquette that needs to be followed when using British public transport. The British are polite, which means that they don’t usually cause or enjoy disruptions while in public. While they are friendly, they often find direct eye contact during a commute as a small invasion of privacy. It’s just one of those things!
So when you’re on any kind of train, remember to keep your eyes down to avoid any awkwardness. Better yet, bring a tablet or book.
3 Getting The Time And Date Wrong
It’s easy to get the time and date wrong in the U.K. when you’re used to the American system. The biggest difference is that the dates tend to be recorded backward. For example, Christmas Day in the United States is 12/25, but in Britain, it’s 25/12. The year also comes at the end, so it would be 25/12/2018.
When it comes to time, the Brits probably won’t know what you’re talking about when you say “quarter after” the hour. They do say “quarter to” and “quarter past” when it’s 6:45 or 7:15, but never “quarter after."
2 Looking The Wrong Way Before Crossing The Street
One of the major differences to get used to in the U.K. is the side of the road that they drive on. Remember that people drive on the left, so when you’re crossing the road, you’ll have to look to your right first. Forgetting to do so could cause a serious accident!
It probably won’t make much difference if you’re not planning on driving while in the U.K., but the driver also sits on the right side of the car. If you are planning on driving, you’ll want to get your head around all these differences well in advance.
1 Being Clueless On The Escalators
Just as there’s etiquette while using public transport in the U.K., there’s also etiquette when it comes to using the escalators. Remember that all traffic in Britain moves on the left side, and this includes foot traffic. When Brits are in a hurry, they speed up and down escalators on the left side.
If you don’t want to race and would prefer to just stand on the escalator and wait, you need to stand on the right. Accidentally loiter on the left, and you’ll block traffic and annoy a lot of people. You’ll also stand out as a tourist, especially in the city!