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Guide for Americans to learn to navigate UK like a pro

The differences between America and the US are many. Starting from the language, to the weather, and from the sports to the food, travelling to UK is a very different experience for an American. The differences often cause a lot of confusion, and can end up causing problems for a few unlucky ones. In fact, there have been several incidents that suggest American tourists are not treated at par with European tourists. Learn how to make the most of your time in London, and ensure that you are treated well by the locals. Here are simple things which you can do to look less like a tourist.

  1. Avoid wearing shorts: The weather in the UK is cold most of the time. Even in summer, when it gets pleasant, it is rarely warm enough to warrant wearing shorts. The traditional use of shorts in some specific sports being an exception, avoid wearing shorts when you visit the UK. Simple trousers or jeans work best.
  2. Mind your footwear: Footwear is once again something that can be used to spot a tourist. American tourists seem to have a penchant for gym shoes, which are flashy in colour and easily distinguished. Unless you have an athletic activity planned, avoid wearing gym shoes, since they only look strange and reinforce the American tourist stereotype.
  3. Get a feel for the Queen’s English: English may be the primary language in both the US and the UK, but there are huge differences in the way it is spoken in either of the countries. Spend a little time to try and understand British English accents. A TV channel is BBC America is a good place to start and will help you get an ear for the famous British accent.
  4. Do not keep a fanny pack: Fanny packs are a common sight for tourists. The logic in buying and carrying these bags is that they help you keep your money and documents safe. A thief can just as easily cut of the clips and run away with the fanny pack as he can snatch your purse. A better idea would be to keep your documents and money in an inner pocket which is hard to access.
  5. Mind the road: It is slightly disturbing how most Americans seem to forget that in UK the sides of the roads are reversed for travelling. You will drive on the left, and when crossing a one say street, you need to check the appropriate side as well. This holds true when you are walking as well, and you should stick to your right so people who are in a hurry can pass by with ease.
  6. Learn to expect rain: Rains in Britain are not just a popular stereotype. It really does rain quite frequently in the UK, and most people have learned to keep an umbrella or some kind of waterproof clothes with them. Carry an umbrella, and you will not be caught in the rains by surprise. Besides, if you hated rain and want the sun instead, you are better off heading for the Caribbean instead of the UK.
  7. Try not to complain too much: Every nation has its problems, and they are acutely aware of them. You may feel the rush in London city is just unbearable, or that the cab fare is too high. Locals face the same problem, and the rents are just as high as the hotel charges. Just like you would not like a guest complaining about your home, a local resident will not appreciate criticism about his country either. Show some restraint, be a little civil, and you will be amazed at how friendly people can be.
  8. Trust your cabbie: The regulations in London for becoming a driver for a yellow cab are very strict. Licensed drivers often take years to become certified, and know the streets of the city better than you ever will, even with your brand new smartphone with GPS and navigation installed. Let them drive you to your destination, instead of pointing out alternative routes. While yellow cab drivers are trustworthy, avoid taking mini cabs whenever possible. These services are not so strictly regulated, and the drivers may lose their way while dropping you.
  9. Be careful with your tips: Tipping may be almost a norm in the US, in Britain this is not so. You are not expected to tip your cab driver, the hotel attendant or even the waiter serving yo0u food unless you feel that their service warrants a special reward. Since service taxes are already included in your bills, you do not have to pay twice for the same service.
  10. Be considerate when visiting popular destinations: Do not block the traffic at the Abbey Road just because you want the same photo as the famous Beatles cover. Do not form too big of a crowd at the King’s Cross Station, just because you are a Potter fan and want to visit the Platform Nine and three-quarters. And do not try to steal a book at the Travel’s Bookshop in Portobello Road just because you love the movie Notting Hill. In short, while you may be excited about finally getting to see the many things you have only seen in the movies, keep an eye out for locals, and whether you are causing them any inconvenience in the process.

These simple things will ensure that you are able to enjoy your stay in the UK a whole lot more. Try not to imitate accents as it feels like mockery to the other person. Use an Oyster card when traveling for your own convenience as well as the convenience of others around you, and remember that there is not wrong time to have tea when in the UK.

To make your stay even more comfortable, pick a hotel that offers quality services and is known for excellence. Grand Royale London Hyde Park is a great option, and is also ideally located to offer you access to a number of delights in London.

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