Traveling to the UK soon? It’s easy to feel right at home in Britain, where it’s easy to navigate the place, find hotel bookings, cheap recreational activities, and great sights waiting to be discovered. North Americans share a bit of common heritage with Britain. During the height of its empire, Britain ruled about a quarter of the world and they successfully passed on some of their cultures to their colonies. It’s one of the main reason people love going to England and the rest of UK.
Everyone loves to write itineraries and what they like to visit in Britain, but before heading further west, you might need to take some notes on what not to do. There are some customs in North America that Britain and the rest of the UK find insulting and worse rude. So don’t be a nosy tourist in their country, and make some adjustments with these few reminders:
Don't confuse England with the rest of the United Kingdom
The official and proper name of UK is The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Great Britain comprises of three other countries, England, Scotland, and Wales which are all different from one another. It’s not like a state or county, these countries have their own local government, unique ethnic identities, and own rich culture. Nothing annoys people from Scotland or Wales than being called English. If you call someone English who’s definitely from Ireland, you might find yourself in big trouble. It’s always generally safe to ask.
Asking anyone if they know the Queen
The Royals especially the Queen are the biggest attractions in Britain. But don’t assume everyone loves them. Britain may seem small on the map compared to the US, but don’t forget their number is huge. An estimated 60 million people live in the UK and at least 8 million live in Greater London. Asking if they know the Queen is a ridiculous and laughable matter to start a conversation – it will never happen.
The harsh reality is Brits don’t pay much attention to the Royals or to the Queen. It’s not like what you see on the TV. She may appear on the news from time to time, but that’s just it. And it’s a bit entertaining for some, but don’t expect everyone will be jolly good when it comes talking about the Queen.
Don't Block the Escalators
Britain and the rest of the UK are busy people, and well aware of the time. You’ll find them racing up or down the escalator in airports, stores, train station, or the ‘Tube’. For them, walking gets them to their destination faster and more efficient. If you don’t feel like going with the flow, then stand on the right side of the escalator and let the busy traffic past on the left. For them, standing on the left is a social crime, and you’ll hear a lot of grumble by standing on it. Likewise, they love to fall in line that’s why they call it a queue. Jumping in front of the line will also get you in trouble. Don’t let them label you as ignorant and rude tourists in doing so.
Don’t stop or cut lines in front of the carriage entrance
Brits either love or hate their daily commute with the ‘Tube’ or their subway systems, depending on the time of the day. But their ‘Tube’ is the most extensive and efficient public transport systems in the world. That being said, it’s the most popular way of getting around the city; it gets overcrowded, very stuffy and hot. So anything that impedes the locals in getting that dreaded morning commute is having tourists blocking their way. Whatever you do, don’t jump in front of the carriage when there are people lining up to get onboard. This makes it easier for people getting off and boarding the train. It prevents overcrowding when another door remains virtually empty. Make sure of the map, sometimes walking above and on the streets are far better than navigating the labyrinth-like underground systems of Britain.
Don't underestimate the value of British coins
You could easily get annoyed when you already accumulated a pocket full of coins. But whatever you do, don’t throw them out. Don’t underestimate the value of British coin. Spend them on your daily adventure; they are not just useless coins clanking around in your purse. A single British pound coin is worth at least a dollar and a half. Two-pound coins are worth more than two dollars. So a pocket full of them can buy you a decent snack may be more.