15 Ways to Not Look and Act Like an Idiot American in Britain


One of the most popular posts on this site is a post I did a few months ago about my Top 10 London Traditions. It’s not a post that I thought would have any legs on the social media networks – it was mostly a vanity post of me sharing what I like to do when I go to London.

But then some people left some interesting comments about how they were treated the last time they were in the UK. Those comments attracted the interest of someone on Stumbleupon – this was in July. Since then, this one post has attracted nearly 10,000 hits and nearly 40 comments.

It’s the comments that keep the people coming. I’ve had several spikes of traffic to that page over the last couple months and the conversation has evolved into how Americans should behave and expect to be treated in the UK.

Capitalizing on that – I’ve decided to write a post that doesn’t sugar coat things at all. Here’s the official Anglotopia guide on how to not look or act like an idiot American in Britain.

Anyone who has traveled abroad has seem them. They’re easy to spot in the wild and don’t respond well to those around them. They’re usually spotted in large groups, not far from a giant tour bus or near a McDonalds. I’m talking about the Typical American Tourist.

They are typified, not just by their fashion sense, but by their complete lack of understanding of a country before they travel to it. Despite spending thousands of dollars to travel somewhere, at no time did they even think about learning about where they were going.

In defense of the Brits, who are continually disgusted by my American brothers, I’ve decided to write a quick guide to help Americans better deal with Britain. They may speak English, but they are completely different than you or I.

Leave Your Shorts at Home

Britain gets pretty warm in the summers, but one thing you won’t see much of is shorts. The idea of having half your legs exposed just SEEMS unBritish. What, do you think this is Thailand?

Let’s Play Spot the Gym Shoes

With practicality, we must all wear comfortable shoes when we travel abroad. But that does not mean go buy a pair of flash Nike’s to wear. An easy way to spot an American is to look for a group of people, all wearing gym shoes. Gym shoes are for the gym or similar activities not for traveling in a European country.

Fanny Pack = Fashion Victim from 1990

I’ve seen it with my own eyes, as recent as 3 years ago. People still think that Fanny Packs are still a useful travel accessory. Don’t ever wear one, ever. You’re just asking for a thief to clip it off your waist and steal your passport and money.

Language Barrier

Yes, the Brits speak English, but it’s in a completely different way and they use words differently. Try to watch BBC America a bit before you leave, try to get an ear for the tongue. No one wants to have someone scream “What?” at them multiple times because they don’t understand. It’s really not that hard to understand a British accent. It’s linguistically similar to a Southern Accent in the US, if that helps.

Look Right!

Yes, I know you were still shocked to see that they do indeed drive on the other side of the road in Britain. Because they do, that means that all traffic comes from the RIGHT when you’re crossing a street, not the left. So, ALWAYS look right before you cross a street.

Speaking of right, always keep to the right when walking up stairs or an escalator. This allows people to go by you if they are in a hurry. This is very evident on the Tube, where you will always run into someone more in a hurry than you. Get out of their way.

Complaining about the Rain

Yes, it rains in Britain. Deal with it. Otherwise, why did you go there? If you want sun, go to the Bahamas. Besides it doesn’t rain nearly as much as the stereotypes say it does. Carry an umbrella – be prepared.

Complaining about Anything, really

While complaining is a British National Pastime, that does not mean it is OK for you to complain about anything about Britain. They are quite happy to NOT know your opinion on any matter. Brits are well aware of their inadequacies and don’t want to be reminded of them.

Telling the Cabbie Which Way to Go

Unlike in the US, where any immigrant off the boat can drive a Cab, in the UK it’s a trade that require YEARS of training and memorization of every street in London. Your Black Taxi London Cabbie knows how to get where you want to go better than you. Don’t insult him by thinking you know better. You don’t. Also, NEVER take a ‘mini-cab’ anywhere, they are unregulated and will most likely not know where you’re going and may rip you off.

Tip Generously

The British do not have a Tipping culture. Never tip anyone. That means your cabbie, your waiter or bellhop. Unlike the US, Brits are paid a decent wage for their job and do not expect to be tipped. Oftentimes, they will be insulted if you do. Most wait staff in London are usually Eastern European and if you ask them about tipping, they’ll tell you that ‘Yes, you tip’ for obvious reasons. Generally there is a service charge already tacked onto your bill. It is not necessary to pay the person twice.

Talk about Politics

As an American, unless you’re someone like me, you know absolutely nothing about British Politics (and chances are American Politics as well). So, that qualifies to you to talk about nothing related to politics in Britain. The friendly bloke you just met in a pub is not really interested in what you think about the Iraq War or Gordon Brown. They don’t even really want to talk about it with other Brits. And don’t you DARE speak poorly of the National Health Service (or call is Socialist).

Stuff Your Face

Portions are smaller in the UK. Deal with it.


Americans seem to think that because we’re Americans, we deserve special treatment in the UK. We don’t. We’re foreigners just like the rest of the world. Remember, we fought a whole war over our independence, and the Brits are still a little sore about losing. Any special treatment we may have hoped for ended at the end of the Revolutionary War.

“We Saved Your Ass in the War”

The British are well aware of the role that the Americans played in World War II. Don’t remind them of it. The British are EXTREMELY proud of their war history and they were keeping Hitler at bay for YEARS before we bothered to get involved. We did not save their ass in the war. We were their ally in victory and we WORKED together. It was a TEAM effort.

Stand in the sidewalk and look at your map

If you’re lost, don’t stop in the middle of the sidewalk and look at your map. Step off to the side and discretely look.

We Caused the Econopocalypse

Whether you think we caused the current economic troubles or not – the fact of the matter is that the rest of the world thinks we did. You should act accordingly and expect to be treated poorly because of this. They’ll get over it eventually, but only once things have started to recover (which they are starting to, imo). Don’t talk about it, don’t talk about how it affected you, don’t talk economic theory or implicate the Brits. Leave it alone.

Do you have any advice to American Tourists in Britain?

Read More at Anglotopia


  1. avatarshesaidzed says

    Even though i’ve been an anglophile for many years (and having been saving money like mad so I can actually make the trip over), i’ve never been to Britain.

    However, I’ve heard from other travelers to NEVER go to a pub and order a fancy drink, it would be considered offensive.

    • avatarShawn says

      The idea that any alcohol consumer would go to the pub and order anything but beer astounds me :)

      • avatar says

        Yeah? I was born in and have lived in London for 23 years and my staple pub drink is vodka, lime, and ginger ale. Most London pubs serve cocktails. And don’t forget Pimms is always served with half an orchard in it.

        • avatarShawn says

          But if you’re American, you’re used to Miller Lite. Or Budweiser. Or – god forbid – COORS.

          Beer in the UK is an experience in itself!

          • avatarSean says

            Well, if you’re a 20th century American, maybe. Good, world-class brews have been available in a lot of US bars for awhile.

          • avatarDoug says

            The last time I was in the UK, the pubs were pushing the heck out of Coors Light. Why, I’ll never figure out! Think I’ll stick to my fave Tetley’s Ale!

          • avatarSillybadger says

            LOL – but if they’d just get Guinness Red over here, I could go back & forth between it and Aventinus and be happy!

          • avatarCaitlyn says

            I can’t imagine drinking American beer even in America, much less overseas! If you’re going to drink that crap, why travel abroad??

          • avatar says

            I’m a bit of a US-o-phile and the US has some awesome bottled beers from the smaller breweries, even some draughts. There’s at least one real ale pub in my home town that sells them. Brands like Sierra Nevada, Flying Dog, Anchor Steam and so on. I tend to stick with the IPAs. The US ones are actually a little stronger than the UK ones but often made with UK hops. Stores like Wholefoods typically stock these brands.

            As someone who’s lived in a tourist city (York, Yorkshire, England) and travelled (mainly CA, NY and FL) the best approach to being in a foreign country is respect. Respect the people and the culture. You can act like an arse anywhere and if you do you’ll get treated as one. Finally learn and try and lose some of those preconceptions. I know I did.


            – I’m not sore about the US wining the war of independence. That was 200 years ago.
            – If you say you saved our arses in WWII I’ll just give you a wry smile.
            – The economic mess is a global one.
            – You can order what you like in a pub. Its just that some pubs are somewhat old fashioned. Find the right pub.

        • avatar says

          Pubs are not Cocktail Bars – they are for the most part Meeting places where friends meet on a regular basis to discuss and put the World to Rights. I like Americans generally but why are the Italian Americans so LOUD !

        • avatarcarl says

          Just thought I’d make a note here – “cider” outside the US is usually alcoholic (US: hard cider). IF you want apple juice… it’s called apple juice.

          • avatarTathren says

            Actually in the US there’s apple juice which is usually clear and sweet and somewhat tasteless, Apple Cider which is just plain gorgeous with spices and yummyness in it, and hard cider which hear is like apple juice that’s been fermented. they’re three distictive beverages.

          • avatarRJK says

            “Cider” is hard cider in the US, too (just writing this in case someone stumbles upon these comments now – the times, they are achanging!)

            It’s becoming far more common to find cider in bars/pubs in the US, depending on where you are. If you’re in a pub, and you order a cider, they will know exactly what you mean. You don’t need to qualify it with “hard” (in fact you may look a little silly if you do, because who goes to a bar and orders spiced apple juice?)

    • avatarpete says

      If your a bloke by a pint of lager or ale or even buy a shot or spirit like whisky and sometimes a cocktail. If your a women it is ok for you to buy a wine or champaign or someting fancy like that. Just stay from white cider or super strengh lager they’re tramps drinks.

    • avatarHeather says

      I guess it’s good to be cautious when abroad, but whether ordering a “fancy” drink other than beer causes an adverse reaction from staff really does depend on the sort of pub you go into. If you walk in and see quite a diverse group of people, and not just a couple of local types propping up the bar, then you’ll probably be fine. And even if you do get a curious look for asking for an unusual drink, you’re very unlikely to be confronted about it – most people keep themselves to themselves unless you actually try to insult them or wind them up. Just be open minded and friendly with the staff and people around you and you should be fine, even if you do seem a bit of clueless tourist.

      I recently went into a small village pub that I assume has never seen anyone outside a half mile radius for years, and even there they served lates.

      • avatarDevra Denny says

        They really wish you to walk on right side of street? When I was in Australia, they moved onto the LEFT side to pass in traffic. Same as how they drive.

    • avatarAriel says

      Wow, that’s very offensive to us Americans. You know nothing about us… yeah we do things differently. Therefore everything you British men and women do that differs from us Americans, we might as well be calling you guys stupid also. Sorry for actually thinking I could visit Great Britain and actually be welcomed.. OH, and newsflash, NONE of us Americans look like that picture you have up..

      • avatarZydepunk says

        Fantastic article, but there is one thing i disagree with and that is Tipping. I’ve lived here all my life and i use tipping as a way to show a love or dislike for the food or service. I usually tip heavily too when i can afford too…. if they have made my night special, they should be rewarded.

        It was a shame Ariel, that you now don’t feel like you want to make the trip, because if you or any other Americans happened to wonder across my path, i would shake your hand and welcome you to England, then buy you a drink and offer to answer any questions you might have about the area. I’m 25, and the new generation of Brits are MUCH more friendly than our older generation. We have much better access to information and connection with our friends overseas where as our parents didn’t. So…. we understand that the Stereotypical Image of an American is actually not real, and most Americans i have met have been friendly, great fun to get drunk with and sing all the way home with.

        Wow, and do your young ladies know how to party!

        Anyway, please don’t let it put you off coming to this fine country, because you’d be more than welcome here :) Times are changing love.

        Hope this helps change your mind,


        • avatarMeg says

          I have never been outside of America , though I’ve dreamed of the day when i could afford to travel to London, and Ireland still do even now . I know i am only twenty three and i still have time to save and go. the point i am trying to give is that no matter what other’s think of us or even what other countries think we think of them its up to us to prove them wrong . I grew up with the “Respect ” aspect you give it to everyone no matter their country . I’ve been reading allot about London and how they don’t like us or we are arrogant American’s i find this terribly sad, but it wont stop me from me wanting to see a country that I’ve always thought was interesting and beautiful . (Zydepunk) your right on all that you’ve said it shouldn’t stop us Americans from wanting to see your country . The same would go if you came here, i wouldn’t stop you i would want to accept you and show you around . I think that also none of us are perfect and your going to get the *ying and yang affect when dealing with people anyway so just set aside the thoughts of rude and explore the world i say . *I know if i had the money to travel i wouldn’t be in Washington state right now i would be on a plane with money in my pocket and a list of countries to see.

          • avatar says

            I wanted to visit England all my life & was finally able to go this past September. Besides all the the regular brisk tourism the Brits encounter, this year had the Diamond Jubilee, the Olympics, and the Para-Olympics. Even so, every single person I asked for directions (or any other tedious ‘touristy’ question) answered me with a gracious good will that was impressive.
            Saving for a trip abroad can be daunting & it might pay off to think outside the box. I found a website called Workaway that pairs visitors with locations throughout the UK where you are provided room & board in exchange for work on the property. I have not doe this myself but am considering it for my next trip to enable me to stay longer.
            And I promise you, you will find a country that is filled with well-mannered, good-humored folks – even if you are…gasp…an Amercian!

          • avatarJohn J says

            Where have you read that the English (all 50 million of them) hate Americans (all 315 million)? I can assure you that this assumption is categorically not true. If you are intending to travel to London, I would suggest that it is like every other cosmopolitan, westernised city – some people couldn’t be friendlier , and some people (usually businessmen) thinking you are a nuisance, and won’t give you the time of day. London is not alone in this attitude, as I have experienced exactly the same thing in NYC…some people couldn’t be nicer and will actively go out of their way to help you, whilst others wouldn’t take a leak on you if you were on fire – that’s life I’m afraid. With the continuing influx of American culture into the UK, you should have no problem adjusting to England after a few days – nearly all of our TV (especially on satellite and cable channels) is American, like most Western countries there is a constant array of Starbucks / McDonald’s / KFC / Burger King / Subway if you are craving a taste of home, and (contrary to what some Americans think) the English are not a nation of aloof, condescending gentry with bad teeth and butlers called Jeeves – we are actually closer to most Americans in terms of attitudes and values than some would like to admit.

          • avatarKerry says

            Meg, I hope that you are able to get to the UK and Ireland someday soon, but I also hope that you are able to knock that chip off your shoulder before you go.

        • avatarWayne says


          Oh, there are some of us that look exactly like that. Ever been to South Florida? They’re all over.

          • avatardredge says

            Ha, as a born and raised American anglophile who has lived in Florida and Maryland, I can definitely attest to the fact that plenty of Americans look just like that. The problem with our country is that we cannot see ourselves for what we are or how others perceive us. God forbid we make a joke out of it and just laugh at ourselves. It’s always ‘we’re America, therefore were the best’ that’s just crap. I’m much more surprised by the fact it the rest of the world takes us even remotely seriously than the fact that we are seen as ignorant, fat, ugly, Americans.

            I apologize for any spelling and grammatical errors as my phone is refusing to type in this box it’s taken me 10 minutes to type this paragraph.

            <3 England

        • avatar says

          I think the tipping part isn’t that true – Brits certainly tip, but in less places and at lower percentage of the bill than Americans do. I’d certainly leave a 10% tip in a restaurant if the service was good, and maybe a taxi driver,, but you’d never tip for bar service in a pub for example (unless you offer to buy the barman a drink, but this is a minefield of social behaviour in itself!)

      • avatarPeter R says

        Now this whole british ordil of tipping is a joke. I have been in the catering industry for many years. Cocktail bar manager, restaurant manager etc…. You get the point. Now being a trained in the Us for cocktail is an advantage. No matter how much detail and how great the taste is a brit will eat there own…. or even lie to you about giving you more. I have had it mutiple times that I said 10 pounds for the two drinks and they gave me a 5 pound note while I waited for them realise that they owe me 5 pounds more, they had the balls to say that they gave me 20 pounds. Man I worked for a long time in the states and canada no one dares to pull bullshit like that. Also brit are the most over rated women, when they walk in either its a pint or the cheapest spirit and mixer. Now some will want cocktails but they are not white brits. People from the us and canada, no problem manhattans and cosmos all night. Not only that but they will appriciate the great work and value and knowledge of the mixologist. People complain that yeah I got hammered from two cocktails last night. Why because the barmen was shit with no clue what he/she is doing. First wrong propurtions and no mixing knowledge at all. People from N.A will not tip if the drinks are shit and they will say that listen barmen I dont like this, this is not what I asked for, but on the other hand if your great you can expect good tips and future jobs from them…. I have regulars that come to our cocktail bar, now I have put them into taxis and got them home nearly every night of the week. Also give them a discount. Do you think they will tip hell no why because of the culture noooooo. British men will rather ask for two beers instead of being a real gentleman letting the lady ask for a nice cocktail. Its 2pounds extra its not being an “american idiot” you brits being cheap extremly cheap.

      • avatarAlice says

        Sorry, Ariel, I’m an American, and a native of Washington, DC, where we’re bombarded with tourists every God-forsaken day. To us, the US tourists pretty much look just like the picture.

        • avatarMark says

          I lived in DC for 30 years, working most of the time near the White House, so I saw a lot of tourists. Most of the tourists seemed to be having a nice time and I felt lucky to have them around.

          • avatar says

            Another DC resident (former) in a heavy tourist area to boot (I was attending GWU for my Museum MA) and I honestly have not seen people “just like the picture.” Maybe I only travel with a nicer set, too, but I haven’t seen tourists like the (obvious joke stock) photo while traveling, either. I was just in Halifax and there were four cruise liners in port, some full of Americans, some from Europe, and while yes, people wore shorts (I don’t, but I don’t wear them at home either-I pack skirts and dresses when I travel but I am admittedly odd) I saw no ‘fat stupid’ Americans wandering around in loud shirts and fanny packs, insulting Canada.

  2. avatarDave Evans says

    “Remember, we fought a whole war over our independence, and the Brits are still a little sore about losing”.

    No – it’s nothing to do with any war. It’s actually cos you’re ignorant xenophobic wankers and we don’t like you.

    • avatarAE says

      Do you really not see the irony of stating you don’t like an entire nation of people because they are xenophobic?

        • avatar says

          I didn’t see it, to be honest, Dave. Your comment sounded simply anti-American to me, and I’m not impressed by your reference to irony. Am I being unfair?

          • avatarJohn says

            Yes, this sort of irony can often sail over Americans’ heads. It’s the difference between a John Cleese and a Jeremy Clarkson. The former only pretends to humorously dislike Americans, while the former genuinely does. It’s a fine line that is easily missed.

            With that said, I’m hoping Clarkson and Rich Hall are both on an episode of QI this series.

          • avatarPupstermum says

            My goodness. This was a thoroughly depressing read. And I’m from TEXAS. Thanks, Y’ALL.

          • avatarAnonymous says

            The irony, if indeed irony, is easily missed. It’s difficult to convey tone over the internet, whether British or American.

        • avatarSimon says

          Yeah, satire doesn’t work in text form. Nothing to do with British/American differences. Americans are generally unprepared for the British penchant for sarcasm, though. Fortunately most British sarcasm is delivered with a twinkle in the eye and/or a wry smile. Watch for those and you’ll minimise the chances of being caught out.

          • avatarRandom American says

            I see your John Cleese and I raise you a George Carlin. Seriously, though, I fail to see the humor in your statement, and yes, I do understand the concept of irony. I learned about it in fifth grade english (10 years old) about the same time I learned basic trigonometry, so clearly not all Americans are ignorant in this respect. Okay, your statement meets the most basic definitions of irony in that it carries a subtextual message (xenophobia/ignorance) that is logically incompatible the literal message (disdain for xenophobia/ignorance), but what was the point of trying to make this comparison? Were you trying to illustrate the fact that all cultures, including the British and the Americans, have their own flaws? Or were you pointing out the inherent flaws in using stereotypes to analyze cultures? Those are both intelligent and valid points, but I doubt that was your intention, considering that you followed through with a rude and stereotype-laden response. If your original post was actually meant to be a clever satire, then I think you should be able to excuse someone for not recognizing it as such. Sadly, we live in a world where people hold irrational and uniformed viewpoints, and therefore it is sometimes difficult to distinguish satire from ignorance. Thus, regardless of whether or not you meant that first post ironically, your dismissive, rude and downright unkind response to someone not recognizing it as such reveals that in many ways you are an archetype for the very character flaws which you pretend to despise. Unless, of course, you are an internet troll, in which case I say, “Well played, sir, well played.”

        • avatarFred says

          Just as with the whole bitter about the revolutionary war thing, that’s rubbish. Clarkson hates Americans because he’s a xenophobic biggot, he holds similar views about most nations, just Americans are easier targets.

    • avatarEd Boyd says

      “Yes, the Brits speak English, but it’s in a completely different way and they use words differently. Try to watch BBC America a bit before you leave, try to get an ear for the tongue. No one wants to have someone scream “What?” at them multiple times because they don’t understand. It’s really not that hard to understand a British accent. It’s linguistically similar to a Southern Accent in the US, if that helps.”

      Oh my word, as an Englishman, born and bred in London England I don’t think I have ever been so insulted as to have our accent compared to that of a Southern US accent. Are you for real?

      There isn’t even such a thing as an ‘English’ accent, the accents can vary incredibly within a region of 100 miles. A Londoner born in Bow East London can sound completely different to that of a Londoner born in West London and don’t even get me started on the difference between a Mancunian and Scouse accent given that the cities are around 35 miles apart.

      I would recommend that anyone travelling to the U.K. read the lonely planet instead for some useful factual information.

      And leave the shorts at home? Half your legs exposed is unBritish!? I’ve never heard anything so ridiculous, I wear shorts and flip flops everyday in the summer as do most Londoners.

      I think some more research needs to be done here, maybe try talking to some British people and not provide a list of out of date stereotypes which is insulting to us as well as to Americans travelling here.

      American tourists, come, embrace the UK. Tip when you want, the Polish workers will appreciate it, I certainly did when I worked in restaurant at 16 years old, drink what you like in a ‘pub’, unless you’re in a remote village in Yorkshire where there is only beer available, wear what you want, we don’t care if you wear gym shoes, they’re comfortable for walking and you should do a lot of that as walking and getting lost in London is the way to see it and a taste for what it really is – a beautiful, multicultural, liberal, energizing, busy, mesmerising global city on an immense scale, not a Victorian ‘old gent’ Mary friggin poppins style theme park.

      • avatarSillybadger says

        “Oh my word, as an Englishman, born and bred in London England I don’t think I have ever been so insulted as to have our accent compared to that of a Southern US accent. Are you for real?”

        LOL – well, as a US southerner, I don’t think I have ever been so insulted as to have it said that being compared to a southern accent is an insult! And all your countrymen (that I’ve met) are so much more polite about it!

        While I do think some of this list is a bit niggly (sorry Shug; have back problems, will wear sneakers, anyone with an ounce of manners will get over it), he has a point with the accent comment. There is such a thing as an overall English accent, as compared to an American or Canadian accent. We have regional variances too, but they still often have more in common with each other than what you’ll hear across the pond.

        It’s all about the vowels. Find a theatrical voice coach and ask them about it sometime. I had several people (West Midlands, Yorkshire, northern Wales, and Dublin) comment that it was easier to understand me than many other American tourists they’d met, and I pick up the accent without even noticing I’m doing it. And if you look back at early Hollywood, the parts of southerners were often played by British actors (Vivien Leigh comes to mind) because they aped southern accents better than other Americans, while most southern actors were told the first thing they had to do was permanently lose the southern accent if they ever wanted a role.

      • avatarDurhamite says

        Yeah, i agree with you Ed Boyd. The information here is awful, its old and not all to useful in modern times. I currently live here in Durham and the only good bits of advice in this article for an American are look right, fanny pack (because they are silly wherever you are), Entitlement, stand on the sidewalk and look at your map (isn’t that rude anywhere?), and “we saved your ass in the war”.

        I don’t know how it is down in London, but here in Durham we love to talk politics and compare them to world wide political views. Part of that might be living in a collegiate community, but thats how it is here.

        • avatarBen says

          Oh god. So much misinformation and subtle regionalism everywhere. First I would like to say I’m 16 and I’m looked down upon by the majority of 25+ in Britain even though I’m no more likely to stab anyone than the manager of the care home down the road. This is a MASSIVE problem in Britain and the alienation of youth is causing problems nationwide. Anyway, don’t avoid shorts. Shorts are IN! Shorts are great in the summer, it would look out of place to be wandering around London in trousers (‘pants’) on a hot day, considering you might drop dead of heat exhaustion on the tube if you refuse to let your body breathe.
          Gym shoes are fine too. So don’t worry about that. But please, I BEG of you to leave your fanny packs behind, also don’t say fanny because it means vagina in Britain, because they are the worst thing I could imagine an American wearing ever ever ever. I will personally cut them off of you and return your belongings to you before burning the fanny pack and dancing round it.
          Please stop referring to a general English accent because it DOES NOT EXIST. The accent you are referring to is Oxford or The Queen’s English. I have northern cousins and we barely understand each other. Try telling them they sound like southern American. (In Britain the southern accent brings images of racist rednecks which whilst stereotypical and very untrue is in the public mindset).
          Don’t complain about anything because it’s the same as inviting someone into your home and hearing them complain about your partners cooking, it’s okay for you to criticise but not for anyone else.
          The Cabbies point is true, taxi drivers are incredibly well trained and regulated. Mini-Cabs are FINE! Just look for a HACKNEY CARRIAGE sticker. A taxi with this sticker which will declare Hackney carriage and bear the name of the local authority.
          Tipping is not frowned upon but my advice would be to keep the money and spend it on something else.
          Talking about politics whilst probably could be acceptable is best avoided. Britain is incredibly multicultural but sadly that makes certain topics (Palestine, Tibet). Just remember you’re on holiday so just forget serious things for the time being. And please do not insult the NHS, without it many of us would be in serious debt and ill. Britain spends 8% of its GDP on Healthcare compared to the 16% in America, the average Brit finds it abhorrent to make profit from people’s wellbeing – Life and Death are not for profit.
          We don’t eat as much, get over it.
          You’re not better than anyone. Entitlement is actually a very noticable problem with American tourists all over the world. Even your government recommends that your American Passport does not make you above the law. Please remember it, and do not look down on people. Ever, Britain is very accepting once the ice has been broken just don’t give people reason not to welcome you.
          Don’t say this because it is historically innacurate as Jonathan has stated Britain had held Germany back for years and the Battle of Britain had been won. Feel free to quote it to the French, but Britain was well and truely sufficient. We combined forces and took on Germany successfully together. ‘Special relationship’ intact.
          With the maps be subtle and move into a cafe it’s less annoying for people around you.
          The general feeling in Britain is to blame the extremely wealthy and the ever widening wealth gap in both of our countries. We don’t blame Americans we blame your tycoons, who you most probably blame due to greed, some small minded Brits (as there are small minded Americans) do blame you but ignore it.
          Also Britain has a long and dramatic history, the actual area of America we ‘controlled’ was rather confined to the North East of your country and the Revolutionary War (The American War of Independence as we know) was a blip as the American revolutionaries joined the French and Spanish who were already at war with us. It is slightly bigheaded to proclaim we’re sore about it because it’s unimportant and in the scheme of things has lead to our special relationship. It sort of ties in with entitlement and the perceived big American ego.
          In my opinion you won’t be hated for being an American but you may be disliked for the whole ‘I’m an American tourist in London and I think that I’ve visited all the UK and I’m really loud and obnoxious.’ routine so stear clear, the majority of American tourists are pleasent and lovely people who are always happy to see real culture instead of faffing about with muffins and tea.

          Finally, please leave London at some point, London is in England it is not England. London is like nowhere else and barely resembles the rest of the country. Why don’t you try Bournemouth!

          • avatarCharlotte says

            You are correct, ONLY the Queen’s English or the Oxford accent is “kin” to the Southern accent in the US!!!! Actually, there are regional and class differences in the Southern accent!!!! The “educated” Southern accent, and the “redneck” Southern accent are different!!!! It is due to the biased reporting by the BBC for over 60 years that people in Britain have a bad opinion of people from the South!!!!!

            I will NEVER watch “Top Gear” EVER AGAIN because when they were in the US and crossed the Alabama state line, the person made an insulting remark about “being in Alabama!!!!!”

            BEFORE you “put us down” come here and visit us WITH AN OPEN MIND!!!!!! The southern part of the US is HUGE compared to the UK!!!! England is ONLY the size of one state, Kentucky!!!!!

            My husband, my son, my daughter, and my son-in-law went to Britain to love and admire it!!!! My husband, whio was a historian, went five times. My son and daughter went twice. My son-in-law only went once. I have been seven times. All together, I have spent so much time in Britain that I can’t give blood in the US for fear that I would pass on Mad Cow disease!!!!

            My husband and I only spent three days in London of the twenty-one days we spent in England on our first trip!!!!

            We decided we’d not go back to London until he was too old to drive, so ALL of the later trips were spent in the British countryside!!!!!

          • avatarMark says

            Are you really 16? Your expression, insight, and articulateness are excellent for an educated adult.

  3. avatar says

    I have done a lot of traveling abroad. Do you know how to spot the American tourist? They’re incredibly LOUD! As American’s we are loud. I have went into many restaurants where I have been embarrassed by my fellow American because I can hear them talking clear across the restaurant! Keep it down, wether you are outside or in. The British are quiet people, unless watching football, they do not want to hear our entire conversation.

    • avatarorangespoon says

      have to agree on this point, we English are very reserved compared to our American cousins so please remember this when out and about in the UK; if you are too loud its the one way to instantly lose the local respect

      it’s not an anti-american thing, we also get a bit irritated with other tourists from closer countries such as Italy; they are simply more expressive than us Brits and it doesn’t feel right if a tourist is dominating the room/area

      i am not saying being more reserved is better, we are just different ;o)

      great post by the way Jonathan!

      • avatarStacy H. says

        As a Canadian, living in the US, and engaged to be married to an Englishman, just wanted to add this comment for Americans. If you do wear a fanny pack – DON’T CALL IT A ‘FANNY” PACK. In England (and the rest of the UK) a” fanny” is a private part of the female anatomy – anatomy which men don’t have, if you get my drift! The Brits call them a “Bum Bags”! Don’t say ‘Fanny” anywhere!!!

          • avatarFiendishgames says

            I think the Bee Gees song that was being referred to is “Fanny, Be Tender With My Love” or, as we Brits preferred to sing, “Love, Be Tender With My Fanny”.

            Don’t think we have many girls called Fanny over here these days, for obvious reasons. However, I would not be surprised were there a few girls in Essex* named Vulva or Pudenda these days.

            * I am from Essex, by the way. My parents named me Tracey. Imagine how well that worked out for me, given that I am male.

      • avatarTay says

        I agree about Americans’ tendancy to be loud. I was in the Musee D’Orsay in Paris a few years ago when I heard an American literally yell from one end of this long Museum to the other. Most people whisper in museums. Same with the Metro; American boarding were loud, and ignored the stares that the behaviour wasn’t appreciated. It’s not just in the UK, but other countries, too, that Americans can draw unappreciated attention to themselves this way. “Indoor voices”, people!

    • avatarshesaidzed says

      I agree! Traveling abroad does make one very conscious of your fellow country men. Restaurant’s are where I notice it especially. I purposefully try not to be rude and crass, but for every person like one of us, there are three perpetuating the stereotype. Ahh, frustration!

    • avatar says

      Hey, we don’t even like our own “lager louts’ because they are loud, too. The difference is, most lager louts are also drunk and foul-mouthed, whereas even the loud American tourists are at least polite!

    • avatarTray says

      Returning to the States after a year living in Britain, even in the airport I was overwhelmed at how loud my countrymen were. My ears had grown accustomed to the low speaking volume of most Brits. There are two sides to this coin, however, as in pubs, I often strained to hear and understand what was being said and was often forced just to smile and nod, simply not being able to hear. This was not age as I was 21 at the time. So to Brits who think Americans poor conversationalists, they may not be hearing your conversation.

      • avatarJack says

        Southern-Americans feel the same way British people do about Northern-Americans…..these Americans come to the South and think they know better than you about everything, even your home Southland, Northerners are the loud, pushy, rude, self-absorbed Americans that we call Damn Yankees(the folks you call Yanks). Southerner-Americans are many things, but we are not rude or loud, and by no means are we Yankees.

        • avatarTMJ says

          The British may think that most Americans are a bunch of wankers, but I believe they reserve a special distain for the south. We all may be loud, pushy, rude and self-absorbed, but you guys have the bonus stereotype of also being bible-beating, uneducated bigots. I’m not saying that I agree with all of it, but you have to be aware that the general opinion of southern America is not a good one.

          I don’t really see myself as a northerner, as I’m solidly from the west coast. I don’t know if that means I’m still a damn yankee, though. People on the west coast are more soft spoken than those from the east, and we are far too passive aggressive to be loud or pushy. We might still be rude and self-absorbed, but we appear that way by being quiet and aloof.

    • avatarKathleen E. Welch says

      Yes totally agree with being in a Restaurant and you know they are American.

      I was so embarrased as these 3 Young American Women were so loud and flirting with some Young British men just minding their own business.

      Also checking into a Hotel in Paddington the American Group were so loud, with their wants and likes, dislikes i couldn’t stand that either.

      I commend the Anglophiles that show we respect where we are visiting.

    • avatarTeresa says

      The biggest thing I’ve noticed about Americans in my few trips abroad (Canada, The UK, France, and the Netherlands) is that Americans are very loud. In a Dutch pancake house, my English husband and I had to listen to a table of loud Americans whinging about how Dutch pancakes weren’t as good as American pancakes. I wanted to direct them to the nearest McDonald’s.
      The only other major issue is not trying to speak that language at all. There are thousands of phrase books out there and hundreds of Youtube videos. Americans tend to think everyone should speak English.

  4. avatar says

    As an American who has lived here for 3 years, some of this is true and some of it is utter nonsense… it’s too much to put in one comment but if you ever are willing to consider a rebuttal… tipping is a critical piece of misinformation btw. We tip 10% here and most restaurants do not have a service charge. Most taxi-cab totals are rounded up at least to the next pound and perhaps another is added. I could go on. But I’m with Jackie, the above stereotypes are mostly caricatured but the truth is that Americans are recognized because they speak loudly.

    • avatarorangespoon says

      agree on tipping…

      don’t tip in Pubs unless trying to chat up a barmaid or something
      but in restaurants we do tip 10% unless the service/food is poor
      in cabs we usually round up to nearest pound but if the journey is a long one (say to airport) then a 5-10% tip is good

      • avatar says

        If you are in a pub and feel you have received excellent service, do the following. When buying your next round of drinks, add to the bar person, “And whatever you’re drinking.” They will probably not be allowed to consume alcohol on duty, but at the end of their shift.

    • avatar says

      As a Brit, I would agree with NFAH on tipping. Have a look at your bill (check) in restaurants. If a service charge has been added, then fine. If it hasn’t and the service was good, tip 10-15%. If the service was lousy, don’t pay the service charge. We are firm but fair!

      In taxi-cabs I ALWAYS round up to the nearest pound, or more if it was a fare over £10. And I agree with Jonathan that London cabbies are geniuses!

      In pubs, although tipping itself is ‘not done’, if you are buying a round of drinks for people, it IS acceptable to say to the barman “and one for yourself”. They will usually take about £3.

      I don’t tip bellboys (unless I have put them to some trouble), valet parking people, chambermaids or other hotel staff.

      • avatarSimon says

        A good article in general, but as a born and bred Londoner I thought I’d add my thoughts on tipping as I think the article is a little off.

        A little rule about tipping. It’s not at all accurate to say that the English don’t tip. In fact one of the most confusing things is to work out who you should and who you shouldn’t tip. Even the English struggle to work this out sometimes. So here goes:
        – Don’t tip in a pub…Although in more expensive bars in most large cities you will receive your change on a metal tip plate of some sort. tip if you want to, but do not feel obliged, they are trying it on and hoping to catch the tourist. Drinks in London are expensive enough and simply pouring a drink does not qualify as “Service” in my eyes.
        – But DO tip in any bar where a waiter/waitress takes your drinks order at your table. The same rule applies here as at a restaurant (see below)
        – Do tip a cabbie. It’s totally expected that you should round up to the nearest pound but use discretion. £7.40 = £8.00, but £7.90 should equal £8.50. A 10p tip is more offensive than no tip at all.
        – Do tip your hairdresser. A £1 will be fine in most cases
        – Do tip in a restaurant but check your bill first. Most places add a service charge of 12-15%. At the bottom of the bill will be either “service charge £x.xx” or the statement “Service not included”. If it is the latter, then please tip unless the service has been awful.
        – Do tip the takeaway food delivery guy. A £1 will do fine
        – finally, use your common sense. If someone gives you great service then tip them, but I can’t think of any situations outside of these above where I would ever tip and never, EVER tip a policeman, no matter how nice they were at giving you directions to the Tower of London :-)

        • avatarPhil says

          I know this post is a year old, but I’m surprised to see someone suggesting people should tip their hairdresser. I’d never heard of this before I went to the US. It just seems.. odd.

          • avatarAshley says

            I always tip my hairdresser about £3 for a cut and a fiver or so if highlighted. Even as a kid i remember my mum giving my a couple of quid to give to whoever had cut my hair

  5. avatarShawn says

    On the topic of gym shoes:

    After spending half my bank account on plane tickets and hostel reservations, I was not going to buy new shoes just for the trip. I sported the ugliest, white, beat-up trainers and the only person who cared was me. In fact, although my feet survived, I was mortified about my lack of fashion sense most of the time (most women wore strappy, cute little things that wouldn’t have held up to much walking at all). In retrospect, I would have bought a nice, dark pair of comfort shoes (that is, if I knew where to get them under $100!)

    • avatar says

      Dear Shawn,

      Bring your $100 to a British designer outlet store! A few weeks ago I bought my husband a pair of beautiful black leather brogues with leather soles worth around £300 for just £55 from the Charles Tyrwhitt outlet store in Bicester.

      Perfect for sightseeing, dining (but not hill-walking in Devon, Jonathan, okay?).

  6. avatarMatt says

    As a born and bred British person living in London, I think – on the whole – that’s a good list. Especially standing on the right on escalators and the whole ‘fanny pack’ thing (although don’t call it that here – it’s rude).

    One thing I do disagree with is tipping. It’s true – we don’t have a culture where everyone *expects* to be tipped, and you certainly don’t need to in *most* situations, but we never find it rude. We certainly don’t get paid extremely well, but you only really tip in restaurants. It’s common to tell a cabbie to “keep the change” if you give him £10 for a £8 or £9 fare, but don’t feel rude asking for the change! It’s standard to leave about 10% of the bill as a tip at most restaurants (although do check the bill for a “service charge” – if that’s been added – you don’t need to tip.) If the service was slow or bad, don’t tip! Only reward them – they’ll get paid anyway!

  7. avatar says

    Good call on the war thing. A simple solution would be to tell your fellow countrymen to forget anything they have seen in a US-made war film, *ever*. Most especially that “Enigma” disgrace.

    We sure as hell wouldn’t have managed it without you (thank you), but it would have been nicer if you’d have got your asses out of your comfy sofas a year or two earlier. Waiting for Pearl Harbour to happen was a bit of a mistake 😉

    • avatarCharlotte says

      You have evidently forgotten about how the UK “pacated” Hitler ” for YEARS!!!! Remember when the PM came back from a meeting with Hitler, and announced “Peace in our time!!!!”

      Roosevelt gave all the help he could to Britain, short of declaring war on Germany!!!!

      Roosevelt wan’t as prepared for the war as he SHOULD have been!!!! He sure as hell had PLENTY of advance warning!!!! But then, that was BEFORE the days of intercontinental ballistic missles!!!! The president of the US, and the American people felt safe because the Atlantic Ocean was between them and the Nazis!!!!!

      IF the news media had been THEN like it is TODAY, Roosevelt would have been CRUCIFIED because of all kinds of things!!!! He evidently had NO PLAN if the US was attacked about WHAT we would do!!!! Therefore, Nazi submarines sank scads and scads of shipping off the east coast with TREMENDOUS loss of lives because there were NO black outs!!!!! Also, My father, who was an officer on a tanker that took airplane fuel to Britain from Lake Charles, Louisiana, saw ships blow up in front of him, and ships blow up in back of him in the Gulf of Mexico because of NO black outs, and the Nazi submarines!!!!!! He told me that “once he got around the tip of Florida, he “felt safe!!!!!!” My father died February 28, 2012, at the age of 94.

      If you British had had the Atlantic Ocean between you and the Nazis, instead of just the distance between Dover and Calais, would you have acted any differently than the US acted?

      On my last trip to Britain in 2006, my companion and I were in a pub in a small town in Kent and a young man who couldn’t have been any older than 22, upon hearing our American accents when he went to the bar to order another beer, approached us and asked us if we were Americans. When we told him “Yes” he said, “I want to thank you for saving us during WWII!!!

      I was gobsmacked!!!!

  8. avatarJenivere says

    Strange you want to live in Dorset, it’s probably one of the most boring counties over here. Maybe I’m just biased because I’ve lived here most of my life but if it wasn’t for the coast and maybe Monkey World it’d just be a place where old people come to live out their final years in pointlessly small villages with “quaint” pubs. Which reminds me, further advice to any foreigners visiting English pubs in small towns or villages – it doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from, if you’re not a local you will receive the obligatory deathly stare from just about everyone as soon as you go through the door. Oh and the drinks are far from cheap, and bartenders don’t appreciate haggling even if different people serve them at slightly different prices in the same place.

    • avatarAE says

      Definitely agree with Jenivere about Dorset. It’s a lovely place for a long-weekend if you like walking and drinking ale in cute pubs, but really wouldn’t want to live there.

    • avatarTom says

      I just thought I should mention- you say that if you’re a foreigner, you’ll get death looks when going into a local pub in a small village or town, which is true. But you’ll also get this death look if you’re just from a different part of the country (or the Union). I recieved looks like this when I went to Cornwall, Dorset, the Lake District, Wales, etc.

      • avatarSillybadger says

        I lucked up – I left my map book and we got lost going from Machynlleth to Huddersfield, and a fantastic lorry driver and a bunch of great people in a Bala pub wrote us town-by-town directions how to get there, complete with odd traffic notes to watch out for, and the driver gave us his cell number and said to call him if we got lost again. I hope they all have good luck for the rest of their lives!

        On the whole, I was impressed with how polite almost everyone we met was, especially after being told (by both Americans and British people) how rude everyone would be. Just didn’t really run into it up north.

        • avatarSimon H says

          You’re quite right, I think. I’m a Yorkshireman and I’m convinced we’re friendlier than those down south. When I travel to Newcastle (a hundred miles further north), they’re friendlier than us Yorkshire lot. Latitude breed friendliness. :)

          • avatar says

            Nothing to do with latitude, If you want to visit somewhere in Britain that is really friendly and where the people genuinely like Americans, try visiting Liverpool. Something to do with them having a history of contact with the USA. Vast numbers of emigrants to the New World traveled through the city and during the last war huge numbers of GIs and US goods came back through the port. Oh yes and the pubs are the best in the world and bring a scouse dictionary. Forget the tales told by jealous Brit southerners, it is a far safer city than many others in the UK.

      • avatarSus says

        I remember getting those looks when I first went to what is now my local ‘The Lamb’ in my village in Gloucestershire, particularly when we asked to use the dart board and were soundly told it was only for the teams! Now, I am friendly with them all and I refer to it as ‘The Slaughtered Lamb’ moment from ‘An American Werewolf in London’.

    • avatar says

      Honestly, I was wondering about the Dorset love affair, as well. I’d love to see a post about why you love Dorset so much, Jonathan. I think I may have missed something spectacular about this area and I don’t want to miss it, again. I’ve been through Dorset – visited Kingston Lacy and Stourhead on the way to and from Dartmoor, but it’s never been a destination.

  9. avatarlucy says

    Being from England (and living in the US for 4 years now) and having worked in the service industry i can tell you that waiters definitely DO want to be tipped and yes they get paid minimum wage and tips DO make up a huge part of their take home. No waiter would be insulted by a tip, nor would a cab driver, bell man or anyone else. Brits dont tip AS MUCH as in America but it IS expected!!!! Oh and i dont think anyone is ‘sore; about not winning the war over independence – we are pretty much over that! In fact a lot of us party on July 4th!

    Otherwise – agree with everything else!

    • avatarSarah says

      Hello. I agree with Lucy wholeheartedly. The only time we wouldn’t tip in a restaurant would be if the service was bad, otherwise add 10% to your bill all the time. (If service is included they usually state that on either the menu, or the bill.) With regards to the war of independence, I don’t think anyone is ‘sore’ at all, it is just such a long time ago.

  10. avatarAbigail Phillips says

    Well done. As a Brit I think I can safely say this is a pretty accurate picture to paint.
    Though a few things to add:
    – Keep it down, no one likes it when you’re loud.
    – Do not shout at me when asking for things. Most Brits are very willing to help with directions or give a little bit of tourist information, but be polite, otherwise some sharp British wit may come your way.
    – Also, try not to crowd the tube, at rush hour this will not be appreciated. We’ve all got to cram in that little tin can, so please, move over and let people on.

    May I wish any American visitors a warm welcome and a good time if they follow these handy tips!

  11. avatarEd says

    A very interesting blog that did make me laff. I’m an ex-pat American who has lived in London for five years, I have a few corrections though:

    – Black cabs have the ‘knowledge’ and charge for it. Times have changed and why should anyone pay for the knowledge when there’s GPS. There are great mini-cab companies, such as Addison Lee in London, that use GPS and cost considerably less, plus you get door-to-door service. These mini-cabs are completely legit (though unavailable during the month of Dec because everyone is using them to hop to holiday parties after work). Just to clarify, the EVIL mini-cabs are usually waiting outside bars or clubs and will charge four or five times the price of a black cab. Yes total rip offs and can be dangerous. Look up Addison Lee on the Internet and you have a car waiting rock-star style when you leave the pub.

    – The UK culture is evolving when it comes to tipping for good service. If you’ve enjoyed a meal tip a pound or two at your discrection. Likewise if there’s some change left from your drink, leave it for the bartender or if there’s some extra change from your cab bill round up. Up until just this year, restaurants were not required by law to use the service fee to pay staff. Even with the change in regulation you know the restaurant staff are making no money.

    – Reality check: An American just off the plane is going to stand out. Brits say ‘holiday’; Americans say ‘vacation.’ And that’s just the beginning! My advice is to work it! Play dumb American, make friends have a laugh and really enjoy yourself. If you really want to have a fun read about British culture, buy ‘Watching the English’ — a fab book that will make you laugh out loud.

    With regards to the author’s obession with Dorset. I’m sure that you’d find quite a few people in Dorset who would rather swith their lives with you 😉



    • avatarJohnnie Raff says

      ‘Tip a pound or two’ if you’ve enjoyed your meal! Are you having a laugh!? you might as well leave 10p. Stick to the 10% or non-obligatory service charge rule and that’ll keep you right. As for the Addison Lee plug, yes I’ve heard they’re very good but there are others. Easier to look out for cabs registered with TFL (Transport for London); they have to display a ‘tube’ logo sticker in their window. Black cabs are expensive and can be a law unto themselves – try getting one to take you south of the river when the pubs shut.

  12. avatarMarian says

    Some good points, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to disagree with your tipping advice. Compared to the US, it is fair to say that we don’t have a tipping culture. However it IS customary to tip taxi drivers, waiters (but not if a service charge is added) and bellhops. Along with hairdressers they’re the only people that receive tips. But don’t feel obliged if you’ve had bad service. No one will chase you down the street if you don’t tip.

    Oh and wear what you like…no one cares. Really.

  13. avatarlauren says

    Have you actually been to England?
    England does have a tipping culture – you should always tip waiters/waitresses and hotel porters, and cabbies too if you’ve had good service. There’s no need to tip in pubs and bars though, although the custom is to buy the barman/barmaid a drink if you think theyve earnt it.. Bearing that in mind, it’s a fairly awful xenophobic slur to say that eastern europeans lie about it being customary to tip – you should take that comment back, its pretty offensive.
    Plus, minimum wage in England is a joke – and that’s what most of these people will be earning. If you work in the service industry, tips are essential to help you make ends meet.

  14. avatarLady_Ldn says

    I’m a Londoner and came across this post via Twitter. Love it. It really made me giggle! As well as standing on the right, may I suggest a few other helpful tube tips:

    1) NO EYE CONTACT on the tube. And definitely no conversation. Unless very discreet and whispered. One certainly must not converse at standard American levels.

    2) MOVE DOWN THE CARRIAGE. It’s not necessary to stand right by the doors. The trains are small and there are lots of us and we’d all like to get on the first train to arrive. Move down the carriage and make some space. You’ll have plenty of time to get off as long as you keep a discreet eye out the window so you know where you are (as a tourist if necessary it is acceptable to make your way towards the door at the previous stop – but NOT while the train is moving. You’ll probably fall over or annoy someone reading the paper by trying to squeeze past)

    3) IGNORE THE MAPS at the bottom of the stairs. We know TFL put them there to help you, but when you block the way by stopping to look at the map it drives us crazy. Get one of those little leaflets they hand out instead and memorize your route prior to travel.

    4) Don’t take the tube between LEICESTER SQUARE and COVENT GARDEN – they are virtually the same place. It’s about a 5 minute walk. Although if you are wearing shorts, gym shoes & a fanny pack please do. It entertains us greatly.

    • avatarjazz says

      Why should a Country have so many “RULES” to go by w/o someone thinking you’re an idiot or having anti-American feelings or being laughed at? In America you can come as you are, no “rules” to live by that if you dont abide by you will be laughed out of the place. Ive seen some pretty idiotic things done & said by many nationalities. Everybody’s different, so just quit judging Americans and get to know a few, and then maybe you’ll have some fun!!

      • avatarjohn says

        They’re not RULES – they are simply advice, as it happens from an American to other Americans. If you don’t want to stand out…do this..If you do, then fine. But expect the same positive and/or negative outcome that you would in any other country (positive – offers of help if obviously lost, negative – rich tourist ready to be fleeced).

        Great article by the way (except for the tipping mistake).

        PS. Nobody even gives the war of independence a second thought (we have lost lots of territories over the years), and strictly speaking we didn’t lose – as it was a civil war at the time (but that’s being overly pedantic) :-)

        Enjoy the UK (not just England), and make sure you get out of London (I recommend visiting any of the ‘shires’.

      • avatarNaomi says

        Jazz, buddy, you are lying to yourself if you think Americans are all nice to tourists. Haven’t you heard any Japanese tourist jokes? In the US, even if you are from a different part of the country you can be snubbed by locals. You don’t want to stand out in NYC as the bumpkin from the sticks. It’s the same kind of thing… you don’t HAVE to know this stuff to visit London, but it saves you from being the but of a joke, and gives you some useful suggestions.

      • avatarAmerican Person says

        That’s completely untrue, believe me. I’m from DC, so I see tourists from all over the world, and I while I’m nice to people no matter where they come from, there is a definite distinction between the people who are fitting in and the people who are not fitting in. It’s always better to be in the first group, because even if people aren’t the discriminatory or elitist type I’m pretty sure there are subconscious motivations based on whether or not people fall into the insiders or outsiders category. Besides, even if people do treat all the tourists the same, conflicts can arise out of simple misunderstandings. What we consider to be not a big deal could be hugely offensive to someone else. It’s always best understand other cultures before you interact with them, and try to facilitate their unique way of doing things, because you can’t always be sure that they will do the same for you.

  15. avatarThomas Brett says

    A good list, although I agree with the others who have pointed out that the bit on tipping is incorrect; yes, we don’t tip willy nilly as in the States (if a pint costs £2.98 in a pub and you hand over £3, you take the 2 pence back or put it in a charity box), but when it comes to restaurants and cafes, as long as a service charge has not already been tacked on, then we do add on 10-15% always. And yep, no one really gives a toss about the American War of Independence – everyone knows it was actually a strategic retreat so we could concentrate on Australia because they have nicer beaches. Er, and kangaroos. (Tongue is firmly in cheek at this point). Oh and finally, I agree, the thing that does riles Brits, even when it is said in jest, is the “We Saved Your Ass in the War” thing when so many people over 40 still have grandparents who fought and died. And you were 2 years late after all.

    • avatarRobert says

      The Americans were over 3 years late to join WW2. The war started on 3rd September 1939, when the Nazis invaded Poland. US didnt declare war until 7th December 1942, 3years, 3 months later, when the Japanese (German Allies) attacked US soil. FDR used this as an excuse to finally give support openly to the British and declare war on the Germans, as well as the Japanese.

      The British won the Battle of Britain on their own against overwhelming odds, David against Goliath, which is still today a source of great National pride. But it goes beyond this – remember on D-Day, there were 5 beachheads. Only 2 of these were US troops. Of the other 3 beachheads, 2 were British, the other was Canadian.

      Its true the British couldnt have won the war without the Americans – but also the Americans could not have won on their own either. What upsets the British (and me as well, as an expat Australian living in the UK), is the American propaganda that the Americans “won the war”. This is what the phrase “We saved your Ass” implies, and is extremely insulting, especially since the Americans were so late in coming to the party..

      Oh, and the British say “Arse”. An Ass is a type of Donkey. :)

  16. avataradam says

    I work in one of if not the best hotel in london and the above comment that we are paid a decent wage may apply to waiters and receptionist but it is not the same for the porters (bellhop) or concierge. the law allows restaurants and hotels to pay you less than minimum wage if you have the ability to earn tips. also service charge goes into the pocket of the companies and if you visit a chain restaurant even the cash goes in the companies pocket.
    We do not take extortionate back handers like the american concierge as we care where we send people and we honestly want you to have a good stay and are not like every hotel that i have stayed in in new york where everyone is as fake as pamela andersons tits!
    if you want a genuine guide to enjoying your time in the uk simply do one thing and that is be a good person. honesty will always shine thru. if you approach things with the intention of having a good time you will do.

    Oh and to suggest that we are “sore” about the war of independence is like asking america why it took so long to abolish slavery ? at one point we owned 70%of the known land on the planet America could not even keep Vietnam in check. and you gave poor mexicans mortgages this economy is your fault.

    portions are smaller because we are smaller. they increase the further north you go.

    otherwise just dont be an ass and you will be fine.

    • avatarAurora says

      I’m an American. I live in California. I once lived in Europe. I loved it, but I prefer home, of course. I’ve always felt that to discuss a nationality as if it were a person — loud, dressing funny and — horror of horrors — not understanding local culture (!) is a sign of low intelligence. People generally travel in order to gain knowledge and understanding of local culture. I feel there could also be a meeting of minds; a sharing of cultures, if each side tries to understand, rather than condemn, the other.

      I’ve often traveled without being recognized as an American. I would be willing to bet there are many Americans who travel on the downlow. Don’t be so quick to judge us all by our loud and ignorant countrymen and women – we don’t much like them when they’re here either. Give thanks that they are only visiting you.

      Also, it’s small, but irksome — it’s the Yank thing. In America, the only “Yanks” are those who are born and bred New Englanders. I know; I’m one, and with apologies to the rest of New England, I’d like to speak for the group and say “knock it off”. As a group, we are all Americans – not “Yanks”. Thank you.

      When you visit my country — try to enjoy it. Stop wenching about the “fast food culture”; the volume, size and sheer energy of the U.S. We like it that way. If you don’t – stay home. Seriously. We love you as cousins, but we don’t really need you here unless you want to have a good time. And hey, we really don’t think about the wars…. We have moved on. You may be still be living with it, and for that we are sorry – it sucked, no doubt. But here, it’s the 21st century. Get off the boat, party and enjoy our craziness!

      With much affection – Aurora

  17. avatar says

    Hello all.

    Fantastic list! And most of it was very true! I am English born and bred, though I am from the far north of England, so it would seem a completely different place to London. Look up the North South divide if you will be traveling around the UK. Could give you a bit of history, we have a lot of it I’m afraid.

    I have been to London on a few occasions and sometimes I feel like I’m visiting a different country. The Tube thing… London is the only place that does the escalator thing… You best do as your told. Stand on the far right as far as you can squish yourself. You will never be able to out-power-walk a business man in a suit carrying the weight of a small child in laptop bags and accessories. It is a weird law of nature.

    Tipping… Recently there was a bit of a hoohaa (to out it mildly), with regards to very large well known restaurant chains using the tips given to the waiters and waitresses to bump up their hourly pay to the minimum wage. (Which ain’t a lot!) Thankfully, this has been stopped, so if, and only if, you think the service you get in a restaurant is worthy of tipping, do it. It will probably make their day. And they will go and tell their parents and friends about the mega friendly Americans who tipped. (Ahhh.)

    Pubs. “Want to go to the pub after work?” Is probably the best sentence to hear in the work place. Pubs are like some Holy Grail type church to a lot of British folk. If you go in a pub that has very old photographs, horse memorabilia and A LOT of brass hanging on the wall, chances are your in a very old pub. Going for a beer/lager/bitter will probably be your best bet. You will get funny looks from the bar man if you order a JD and Coke. He will ask why you want to dilute your whiskey.

    If the Pub serves food, go on a Sunday to get the full on Sunday roast experience. Sunday Dinner is a British institution. Dinner on a Sunday can be eaten at anytime between 12 and 6, so if you are meeting up with an English mate for dinner, check what time. (This is another North/South working/middle class divide with regards to what time and meal lunch, dinner and tea are.)

    Some pubs have Quiz Nights. Go. They are a great way of meeting people and you will have a lot of fun.

    If you are coming to the UK, welcome! Come on in! Just relax, have fun.

    If you have a Question, I don’t mind you asking. :)
    Just get on to my Twitter.
    P.S Sorry for the ramble.

    • avatar says

      “You will get funny looks from the bar man if you order a JD and Coke. He will ask why you want to dilute your whiskey.”

      Or why you want to drink JD rather than a nice Scotch…

      • avatarTom says

        You took the words out of my mouth. Glenfiddich please! Although few pubs where I am stock that, unfortunately. And it’s damned expensive.

  18. avatarTigger says

    Here are some more (and yes – I have seen all of these, some MANY times):

    Don’t clap between movements at classical concerts. Clap at the end of the piece – and wait until the orchestra and conductor have finished before you do!

    Don’t clap and yelp when a famous person comes on the stage in the theatre. It’s not The Cosby Show!

    DON’T DON’T DON’T clap and yelp at a really tense, dramatic moment during a play at the theatre – e.g. when a character played by a famous actor dies. (YES I HAVE SEEN THAT!)

    Don’t omit the \road\, \street\. etc from addresses when asking the way. If you want to go to \Liverpool\, it’s a town in the north of England, not a railway station east of the City. \Tottenham\ (pr: Totnam not Tott-ayn-haym) is an area about 5 miles to the north east of town, not an intersection/tube station at the end of Oxford Street! Don’t complain if you get sent somewhere weird if you don’t follow this suggestion.

    Don’t insist on being given tube/cab directions if a British pedestrian insists it’s only a few minutes walk away. We have legs. So do you.

    Don’t stand on the tube complaining in a loud voice that there are no Brits in London. Those black and Asian people all around you are Brits. And, very probably, so are many of the white people trying to look as foreign as possible.

    Don’t complain in a loud voice about how The Tower of London, Hampton Court, etc doesn’t have air conditioning or aren’t open at 11pm at night.

    Learn to speak English before you come here. There are plenty of websites which tell you which words are different. Use them.

    There’s more, but anyway…

    • avatarSarah says

      “Don’t stand on the tube complaining in a loud voice that there are no Brits in London. Those black and Asian people all around you are Brits. And, very probably, so are many of the white people trying to look as foreign as possible.”

      Ah….I think you’ve touched on something latent and quite important here. Thank you.

  19. avatarRoo says

    I beg to differ about the tipping and service charge issue. The service charge goes to the restaurant as means of helping them to cover for their expenses, it does NOT go to the waiting staff. I usually refuse to pay the service charge (which is 10% in most restaurants and is optional) and instead give the amount to the waiter instead. I don’t tip if they don’t give good service though.

  20. avatar says

    I have traveled extensively throughout Europe and been to England 2X. Most often, I am confused for being European (in just about any city I have visited) vs. an American. I can tell you that wearing “gym shoes” is absolutely done by Europeans. Perhaps not the way that many Americans do in the States but if you go to NY, you will be hard pressed to find people in anything other than sneakers.

    There are plenty of fashionable “trainers” as they’re called in England and people wear them all the time.


  21. avatarDavid says

    What a great page (I found it via Twitter). Yup, the tipping thing is a challenge… so do what you feel is right; no-one will be offended if you give them something – especially if you come from a tipping culture. Avoid mini-cabs that don’t have signs on them… but black cabs will be a little more expensive (I found out that a black cab will cost the cab driver about the same as a Mercedes!).
    The pub is definitely a cultural thing.. and well worth experiencing, especially the British pint as it will taste unlike Budweiser, Coors, or Miller Light. Anchor steam beer is possibly the closest thing… and that can be miles off too!
    You will learn that the shorts don’t work, especially if you are from colder climates.

    London is a world away from the Western parts of the UK (Devon, Cornwall, Dorset) and is also worlds away from Manchester, Newcastle… oh and Wales and Scotland. Florida is about the same size as the UK… but there are huge differences between north and south.

    But hey, that’s what makes the UK such a great place to come to!

    • avatargsej says

      I’m a Brit, working in London, just found this page by accident. Some of the “rules” & comments here are a little odd – I can imagine that some country pub landlords might thing you were unusual if you ordered a cocktail, but ordering a JD & Coke is hardly unusual in London.

      About the taxis – in London the drivers of the black cabs have a very lengthy and arduous training. If you’re travelling to somewhere well known, (e.g. Picadilly Circus), then look at your map, and chose a nearby but small insigificant street, and get the cab to take you there. See if you can catch him out – they know everything.

      Mini cabs are normal in most other places in the UK, and they exist in London. They’re not a rip of. The warnings you hear about are about unlicensed minicabs (basically a bloke in a car). They are known to cause problems sometimes, and are best avoided. If you’re out in town late (e.g. about 3am) though, you might find you have no way to get home. I’ve used unlicensed cabs before – negotiate the price before you set off, and only do it if there’s a group of you.


  22. avatar says

    One of my pet peeves is hearing my unfortunate fellow Americans yell “‘Scuse ME!!!” as they bang around in shops or on the tube, etc. I just cringe with embarrassment. Hearing the Brits say “Sorry” or “Pardon” in a low voice so as not to disturb anyone else is so much more courteous and civilized.

  23. avatarRichard says

    I honestly don’t mean to appear rude to the author, but has he actually ever visited the UK? Nearly every point is substantially wrong or simply woefully out of date.

    Shorts – no problem, can be quite stylish

    Gym shoes – we wear them as much as any European country

    Tipping culture – Yes, we do have one, but on a different scale from the US. Tip waiters, barbers, cab drivers and many others. The exception which comes to mind is bar-staff who shouldn’t expect a gratuity.

    Mini-cabs – they HAVE been regulated in London by TFL for several years

    Entitlement and recent wars – Brits are far more concerned at the USA’s late arrival in both world wars and then being shafted economically by lease-lend than they are about the frankly inconsequential war of independance

    Please spend time amongst the natives before opining so incorrectly – TIA.

  24. avatarMarian says

    While you certainly won’t be popular with any Brit if you say ‘if it wasn’t for us, you’d be speaking German’, to imply that Americans will be treated poorly in the UK because of the global economic situation is false.

    People working in the UK tourist industry will be fully aware of the importance of American tourists to the UK economy and you will be treated the same, if not better, than any other nationality.

    Anyone else you meet will know that:
    a) you didn’t vote for the bankers or…
    b) know that even if you knew what they were up to would have been poweless to do anything about it or…
    c)be unaware of the correlation between the bankers’ behaviour and their livelihoods, so they won’t hold it against you anyway.

  25. avatarPaul says

    Just to add to the previous points…

    If a place-name ends in ‘ham’, it’s pronounced ‘um’

    Clapham = ‘Clappum’
    Birmingham = ‘Birmingum’
    Durham = ‘Durrum’

    Also, never ever describe anything as ‘quaint’, even if it is.

    • avatarSus says

      As an English woman born and bred I was out of the country for 4 years living in Australia, and on my return was picked up at Liverpool Street station late at night. Even though I knew London very well and had lived there before it was as though I was seeing it for the very first time and strangely, the word that kept coming to my mind was ‘quaint’. So I would not mind anyone else saying it.

  26. avatarCaroline says

    Tips for the tube:

    stand on the right and walk on the left on escalators
    let people off the tube before getting on

    • avatarSarah says

      Oh indeed! I find this infuriating in Chicago as well with trains, buses, and elevator cars. How is this not more obvious?

      • avatarJake says

        Yes! I completely agree! In Chicago, transit ediquette is at it’s worst. Also, the workers are rude, but that is an entirely different problem.

  27. avatarDerek says

    Ehrrr….pardon me, but as an American who has lived in London for 2 years now I’d like to throw in my 2¢…

    Brits are indeed an extremely diverse crowd. There are absolutely loads of ’em who wear trainers and even shorts in the summer. Walk into any H&M/Top Shop/Primark… shorts abound. And trainers are totally normal here, though perhaps in slightly cooler styles than what we’d normally wear back home.

    Everyone complains about the rain….it’s to be expected, so why shouldn’t we as well??

    And tipping is done, mostly at restaurants; at pubs, you can always order your favourite barman/barmaid a drink, especially if they’re pulling you pints many times over.

    Any who says Brits don’t gorge? Ever been to a post-pub chippie or kebab shop???? People are far from being dainty and polite about their late-night snacking.

    And for the record, there are many Americans out there who don’t flaunt their entitlement, soapbox their political beliefs, rehash WWII stories, and stand on streets with maps unfurled in frustration. Anyone who’s been to a big city sees tourists doing this everywhere….not just Americans. And to be fair, I could create a list denouncing the frustrating things bout “stereotypical Boozy Brits on holiday” as well…

    • avatarTom says

      You’re quite right about “boozy Brits”, I’ll not deny it. But the thing is, those Brits are a particular type of people, who tend to only go abroad for one thing (to get smashed and to eat fish and chips like the ignorant chavs they are), while the rest of the holidaying Brits don’t get noticed because of their aforementioned quiet nature.

      Having said that, I can understand entirely that because of the amount of trouble people cause, the only impression you would gain of British holidaymakers is of lager louts.

      • avatarRebecca says

        And fanny pack wearing, loud, entitled Americans aren’t a particular kind of people just like the “boozy brits”?

      • avatarpusspussbangbang says

        I wonder if in Norway, boozy,noisy young males are called lager umlauts!!

  28. avatarElla says

    working in a face-to-face customer environment, the one thing that really bugs me about Americans is that when I ask for a “post code”, they always ask me “what’s a postcode?” and I have to repeat “your Zip code”.

    I don’t think that postcode is that hard a concept to understand, that any intelligent adult wouldn’t be able to figure out from the name itself that it is a code identifying where to deliver your post.

    You may say then ask directly for a postcode, I can’t actually distinguish American accents from Canadian ones, and Canadians have postcodes so who am I to assume?

    • avatarHubert Thompson says

      Ah but you see the problem is that Americans DON’T get the “post” delivered. What we get is the “mail.” Yes, even though it comes from the “post office,” no one puts it together. The “post” is a large piece of wood standing up somewhere. So asking someone for the code for their post just doesn’t compute, at all. // I once overheard a British couple try to order “chips” at a hamburger stand in the US. Apparently neither they nor the employee knew that the word they wanted was “fries.” He didn’t know what they wanted and they were unable to come up with another term. Really. It was quite mutually hopeless.

  29. avatar says

    It may interest American readers to know that in the UK “fanny pack” is a slang term for a tampon.
    Nobody here wears them any more, but in the 80s they were known as “bum bags”.
    (Yes, I know that name’s not much better.)

    • avatarTom says

      And I should clarify here that the word “fanny” means something else here. Which may in turn clarify why “fanny pack” means “tampon”.

  30. avatar says

    Wow – the comments on here have been incredible. Thank you so much for chiming in everyone. Definitely have post ideas for the future to clarify some things (Tipping deserves it’s own post!). Come back and see us again soon!

  31. avatar says

    Wow, can I just say, I spent a good 10 minutes asking a TfL worker in the tube about getting to Tottenham Court Road? I was pronouncing it completely wrong, but I didn’t know it and we were both just getting frustrated!

    I have to say, this is a fun and somewhat informative article for people who are self-conscious about their American-ness. But most people who act all “tacky tourist” aren’t self-conscious in the least, so I doubt they will read this or that this will help them at all (you yourself pointed out that some people just don’t take the time to educate themselves a little on the place that they are visiting).

    But if you are busy being self-conscious, you risk not presenting your true self to your new English friends, and what is the point of that? Saying “vacation” instead of “holiday” is not a crime! Your accent is a dead giveaway anyway, so embrace it! People should learn about other cultures but not necessarily forsake their entire identity in a misguided effort to “blend in.”

    • avatarTray says

      As a student for a year in Leeds, I grew tired of a bus full of people stopping all conversaion and fixing their gaze on me (even momentarily) when I got on and and gave the fare I needed in my southern American accent (usually 30p at the time). Even the driver would look up at me which he did with no other boarders. So after a while I faked a Yorkshire “thuh-ee” and the whole process went smoother with less attention focused on me.

  32. avatarTigger says

    Oh I forgot one really important one!

    England is not the UK. Scotland and Wales are different countries. It annoys English people, let alone Scots and Welsh people! Please try to get this right.

    Oh and on the place names, don’t let people wind you up. 😉

    Gloucester = Gloster
    Leicester = Lester
    Worcester = Wooster
    Dorchester = Dorchester NOT “Doorster” !!!

    • avatar says

      Oh Tigger, pleeeeeease don’t forget Northern Ireland too! Home of The Giant’s Causeway and James Nesbitt!


    • avatarNYAmerican says

      Yes it’s just the same when people refer to the US as America when in fact America is the almost the whole Western Hemisphere.

      • avatarAurora says

        I don’t think you’ll find the Mexican/Canadian or South American people referring to themselves as simply “Americans”. Yes, we all live in North & South America – agreed. But we’re the country which took on the name of the continents – maybe we lacked imagination — don’t know.

        It’s a bit precious to bitch about calling ourselves “Americans”, don’t you think? Much of the world calls us by that name. I suppose we could start calling ourselves United Statesians….. but it has no ring, does it? :)

  33. avatarReading Tom says

    From a Brit perspective I’d just add a couple of points

    On tipping, its not true to say that tipping is not expected in restaurants (though it is not in either pubs or fast food places). As you say many restaurants have added a service charge but there has been a lot of controversy over this recently as restaurants (particularly chain restaurants) have been using the service charge to make up the minimum wage rather than passing onto the waiting staff as a bonus on top of wages, so in effect the consumers reward for good service was going to the business not the individual. As of 30 September the law has been changed to prevent this (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8283150.stm) so you can now tip waiters confident that the money will actually go to the individual concerned – a usual tip would be around 10% of the bill for good service.

    On taxis, there are licensed mini-cabs (controlled by local authorities) and these are perfectly safe to use (they will have a plaque usually on the back bumper (fender !?) with their license number and licensing authority and should also display Driver ID inside) – the difference with black cabs being that you cannot hail mini-cabs and they are not allowed to pick up or tout for trade on the streets (never accept a lift from anyone claiming to be a mini-cab who tries to do this – its illegal and the driver will almost certainly be an unlicensed). However, they can be pre-booked by phone (in London you can text you location to Transport for London and they’ll text you back phone numbers for local companies). Mini cab drivers do not have to pass “The Knowledge” though and these days generally rely on GPS systems, nevertheless they are useful though as black cabs can be reluctant to travel too far from the centre, unless its a lucrative run to the airports, and there’s a lot fewer of them around late at night. Indeed, outside London and the cities, you won’t find black cabs and mini-cabs will be all that’s available.

    • avatarsues says

      Yes, I concur …. tipping is expected in restaurants, and all kinds of taxis expect a tip … and I don’t mean telling them to get their taxi cleaned …. they expect a financial tip.

  34. avatarFormer Expat says

    *The British are well aware of the roll that the Americans played in World War II.*

    That would be “role.”

  35. avatarUSExPat says

    As an American living in London, I agree with a couple of your points. But I highly doubt that anyone here is still “sore about losing” the Revolutionary War. Yes, it’s one of the most important events in US history, but it’s a drop in the bucket in the history of Britain.

    • avatar5string says

      The US ‘War of Independence’ (as Brits call it) is a drop in that bucket of our history.
      However, the main reason we don’t like talking about it much is because we lost, and we don’t like talking about times we’ve been beaten – this is a national fault, in my opinion. Even William the Conqueror (1066 and all that) still gets bad press from some quarters because he was French, and beat the ‘heroic’ Anglo-Saxon Harold! That was almost 950 years ago!
      There are plenty of times we’ve ‘lost’ that are glossed over and tactically ignored: the Boer War at the turn of the 20th century; a time in the 17th century when the Dutch invaded and sailed right up the Thames. I imagine there are many others that I can’t think of, because we’d rather not, as a nation!
      WWII is getting annoying, as our media do hark on about it – which anniversary is it this time?! Some of our grandparents did fight in it, but some also fought in Korea, the Falklands, Iraq, and other wars/battles, and we don’t keep on about those (yet!).
      If we won, do talk about it: Nelson, Agincourt, etc!

      • avatarMinerva says

        ‘…the main reason we don’t like talking about it much is because we lost…’…..what a load of old tosh! Most Britons don’t give a stuff about The War of Independence….the comment about it being a mere drop in the bucket compared with our own history, has it spot on. Most Britons don’t give a tuppenny cuss about their own history, so why they should care about someone else’s beats me!

        • avatar says

          If people knew their history they would know that in 1812 British troops crossed the Canadian border. And utterly defeated the US. After burning down the whitehouse we gave America back to its government and retreated. Over 200 years ago it was financially and logistically impractical to fight a war across the Atlantic so peace was declared between the UK and the new nation. That’s why we’ve been friends ever since and not enemy’s. That and the fact that much like the Brits the Americans like to forget their defeats and concentrate on the victories. Bearing that in mind at the time we both walked away feeling like winners.

  36. avatarCockney Geezer says

    May I add a bit of London pub protocol advice for holidaying Americans? If the atmosphere among the locals seems a little cool towards you, remarking “Jeez, how about those French!” will crack the ice and get people talking warmly to you.

  37. avatar says

    I would agree with NFAH that tipping is not unheard of in the U.K. It’s okay to tip your taxi driver although it is not required, neither is tipping the pub’s bartender (if you feel you must, buy him or her a drink instead). Tipping in a sit down restaurant is acceptable as well.

  38. avatarCraig says

    Don’t be so self-conscious! You’re here on holiday, enjoy it. We know that the vast majority of Americans who travel are the OK ones, the stereotypes never leave their home state apparently. Wear what you want to wear, tip how much you want to, and don’t be scared of being a tourist. You’ll have paid a lot of money to get here, no point in wasting time pretending to be a bored local.

    One thing I will say is it’d be nice if you turned the volume down a little on arrival. The majority of the people in the restaurant/pub/theatre don’t wish to hear every aspect of your conversation. And as for the wars? We’ve mostly forgotten about the one for independence, but if you’re dense enough to suggest that we’d be speaking German without you then you’re fully deserving of the berating you shall recieve. We are definitely appreciative of the help you guys gave in bringing about the end of WW2, but you did not turn up and win it on your own.

    London is full of very annoying people, both local and visitors. It’s not difficult to avoid being one of them!

  39. avatarBobbo says

    I am having trouble identifying almost any of this. If we are talking about London, then do and wear whatever you wish – it’s London: everyone else does.

    No need to tip-toe around on eggshells – no one cares, and if you are a bit louder than the people at the next table (who are quite likely Italian, French, Spanish, Polish, Brazilian, Norwegian, Dutch or German, or a combination of these and more) so what?

    If you really don’t want to stand out, just copy what everyone else is doing: when to clap, when to tip etc, but then, you are intelligent enough to have figured that one out for yourself already.

    Sorry, but the OP and many subsequent posters seems to inhabit a 1950’s version of England that I am experiencing some difficulty locating on any of my maps…

    Have fun! Cheers.

    • avatarJane says

      I have to say I find these comments a little too much. As an Anglophile of long standing and having been to Britain four times and counting down the days to my next trip in June, I refuse to worry about what I look like, sound like or order in a bar or restaurant. That said, I’m polite, speak in a moderate voice and appreciate good service wherever I go. I come to Britain because I love the history and it is a beautiful country. I find people are people wherever you travel and I refuse to apologize for being an American or for the current financial crisis. I work hard, live in a modest home and treasure my time in your country. I love to read this blog for it’s great photos and inside views of life in Britain. Enough of these “idiot American” comments. Place is beginning to sound like a Fodor’s forum.

      • avatarBobbo says

        I hope you didn’t think I was endorsing the “idiot American” comments – I entirely agree with you. Just be yourself – people will not faint at the sight of a pair of shorts!

      • avatarsues says

        These days you are probably going to be hard pushed to find a true native in the city ….. its very cosmopolitan. Live and let live is what I and many other English people live by

  40. avatarP. Jones says

    Being a British and living in my country all my life, this list of ‘things not to do’ is completely absurd.

    1)Never once have I heard anybody comment or dislike people wearing shorts, if anything Brits will get their shorts out as soon as some sunshine appears in the sky. This is a ridiculous comment, do you think we still live in the dark ages?

    2)Gym Shoes!?!?! Nearly everybody, especially the younger generation wears ‘gym shoes’ although we call them trainers, maybe older generations will wear them less, but this is another completely ridiculous comment!

    3) Politics – although we may not appreciate being told our politics is wrong Britain has a very politically involved culture, and I do not understand why people would be offended by this.

    4)Nobody cares about the war of independence, and nobody is bitter, British history is so vast & eventful Americas independence is one of least concern and was insignificant compared to what was occurring in Europe at the time. Most British do not even know when it occurred. All we know from it is from American TV shows.

    5) Looking at a map??? London is full of tourists, nobody cares

    This article feels fairly offensive to me and seems to paint a picture of Britain in the 1950’s, not the 21st Century, Britain has changed alot, and although there may be a few stuffy old men around, I do not think this is a fair representation. If I were travelling over from the US, do not worry too much about any of these things and just have fun.

    • avatarMinerva says

      A voice of commonsense.

      I am all for a bit of ‘tongue-in-cheek’ humour…….but this isn’t the time for it. People are often a touch nervous in a new & unfamiliar place…..& gross inaccuracies for a laugh isn’t the way to improve the situation.
      To my American cousins I would say……come to my country, have fun, talk to us (quietly, for preference), listen to us, & enjoy all we & our land can offer. If there are a few things ‘lost in translation’, I daresay we will all get over it…..just laugh, be self-deprecating, & try again. We will love you more for making the effort.

  41. avatarCarl.T says

    a few points

    1, If you want to know about the English mentality read Notes from a small Island by Bill Bryson.

    2, Get out of London, try exploring other parts of the country, If your lost, ask a local.

    3, being “loud” is not a crime although moderation is advised.

    4, If in doubt about what to order in a pub, choose a Guiness or Jamesons, or both.

    5,The only thing we, as Brits, may find hard to understand when you speak are place names like leicestershire, Gloucestershire and so on.

    6, Try tagging along with Brit friends and you will soon pick up everything you will need to know about England ( we do like a moan ).

    7, Wear what you want, we don’t care. As long as you say thatnk you and please we will forgive you almost anything

    Apart from that enjoy yourself, don’t forget we get all the American tv shows so we do understand you.

    • avatargsej says

      Mr T is correct – especially (7). If you bump into someone on the tube and apologise (regardless of the phrase you use, or the volume), most people will appreciate it. I don’t think people are offended very often by people wearing shorts, and any bartender in London who gave odd looks to people buying JD & Coke better have a very large stock of odd looks to hand.

      As has been pointed out, noone here is sore about the revolutionary war. Those who know about it are more likely to be a little annoyed that their ancestors didn’t leave and revolt rather than stay and submit.

      There are aspects of current US foreign policy which are a sore point with many in the UK – I have heard loud american voices delivering lengthy justifications of various acts on the tube, but I don’t think there’s much point in advising against that – surely anyone who’d take that advise wouldn’t need it.

      Most of the American tourists I’ve met have been very polite and friendly. Keep coming!

      Oh – and do visit other parts of the UK. London is pretty different to the rest of the country.

  42. avatarJames P. Arthurian-Watson, Esq. says

    Hello old chaps!

    Forgive me for troubling you with a spot of the old hard-sell (if one wants to call it such!), but I thought it most appropriate to advertise my services here in good faith on your thoroughly good show of a website.

    I am a traditional Dorsetshireman, reputedly a descendent of King Arthur of Avalon himself, and I have never considered leaving this other Eden in all my humble life.

    Aside from my normal gainful employ of making cider and hay, I have ‘outsourced’ (I believe this is the fashionable term!) into undertaking guided tours of the more hidden aspects of Dorsetshire not always manifest to the fleeting visitor.

    I am currently taking bookings for the 2010 season, so if any of you folk from across the pond would like to know more about my tours (including how the hay is really made!), as well as testimonials from past tour groups, then I beseech thee to contact me on:


    Tally ho!

    James P. Arthurian-Watson, Esq.

  43. avatarJim Marsh says

    I think Americans are rather hard on themselves in respect to how they are perceived by the British. I meet quite a few tourists from the US and am always impressed by one aspect of their behaviour, and that’s their sheer bloody enthusiasm and determination to see the things here that they’ve come to see. We Europeans are are rather jaded and cynical lot when it comes to our history because we’re surrounded by it daily. For Americans it’s different. Coming from a country that is still quite young in comparison with Europe, our places of interest are new and novel to them and I enjoy seeing a group of Americans enthusing over some historical spot that they’ve only read about in history books. I don’t think they talk too loudly either, it’s us who are so reserved and quiet whilst they’re just behaving normally. And Americans please – wear what the hell you want, you’re on holiday. As for 1776, most British kids, and quite a few adults would be very surprised to learn that Britain had ever included America in it’s dominions, let alone fought battles there. As someone else has mentioned, we have a fairly colourful history but what was a war to America was just another skirmish among among a hundred others for us. Last thing – in London make sure you see the V&A. It’s the best free museum in the world.

    • avatarLondoner says

      ” Coming from a country that is still quite young in comparison with Europe, ”

      Can I just point out that every place on earth is exactly as old as all the other places?
      The UK obsession with “history” is quite irritating. We have the same amount of history as the US or any other “new” country.

      • avatarKang Jae Gyu says

        Yes, the dirt on the ground is the same age everywhere, but the cultures of Humanity are another matter entirely.

      • avatarSillybadger says

        Maybe the dirt is the same age, but I can’t dig in the ground over here and find the remains of a Roman hypocaust. One of the reasons I want to return to the UK is the history, and the fact that people don’t seem to think something is wrong with you if you find the past interesting. If that’s all you have to be twiddled about, you’ll be fine.

        • avatarSus says

          You might not have Roman artefacts in your soil, but you do have a Native American history (sorry if I am out of date with terms here), which is just as interesting.

  44. avatarSam B says

    Being English and having only learnt about Anglophile today (I was pretty shocked!)so heres my 2pence

    I dont think most of the above is true, although the standing on the right on elevators is just a tube thing, being from Manchester I was even shocked about that… Although I luckly had a few people who severly warn me before visiting London.

    I do agree with a previous post London is a completely different place from the rest of the England… There is more to England then London!

    Although we are part of Great Britain please stop calling us Brits we all live in different Countrys with different cultures, being from England I am English it goes the same for the Welsh, Scots and Irish and it annoys us rotton!

    Having been a barmaid in my working past I found people who didnt say ‘and your own’ (tipping) rude. In the northwest it is usually 20p/50p the barmaid will take and if they know you tip will be more willing to serve you faster… if you dont you will be made to wait!

    I do agree that we are quieter and politer the our American Cousins, please thank you, excuse me will get you very far in this Country as my Mum always says manners dont cost a thing! Including on a nights out no matter how w*ankered you get!

    Last if you have a clubbing night out in England it is a must you take your drunken self to a kebab shop order the most greasist thing with extra chilli sauce and chips. (Chips are fries in the UK, fries are only in Macdonalds. Crisps and our version of American chips)

  45. avatarPaul Higginbotham says

    Okay, first time to the site.
    I think maybe we can all agree to drop the “yanks” thing and the “brits” thing? Neither are particularly accurate.

    Most of this blog seems like self-deprecating anti-Americanism to me. Sure some people are loud or stupid, but it’s not just an American trait, it’s just (sadly) human nature for some people. Some people are louts, and they garner most of the attention. As an American born and raised in New Jersey (yucch), I
    1) nevertheless am soft spoken – people often have to tell me to speak up
    2) familiar with circles (traffic) something some English believe to be unique to them perhaps? Circles are not fondly looked on here though
    3) I have always preferred to say “Sorry” rather than “Pardon me” or “Excuse me” for some reason, supposedly a British trait
    4) I hate it as much as anyone else when people stop dead in the middle of the sidewalk, pavement, elevator, or what have you, or otherwise block your way
    5) am not fond of shorts but as mentioned upthread, this isn’t really a problem
    6) would have not intention of traveling a couple of thousand miles just to complain
    7) have already done a fair amount of studying British/English culture and geography
    8 love the dry sense of humour, (and their spelling 😉 and lastly,
    9) Why on earth should I mention something as stupid and rude to the English such as us “saving” them in WWII?! That’s just idiocy. If anything I’m impressed by how the English singularly held out against Germany for so many years. I’m very fond of my cousins across the pond and desperately want to visit there someday. I want to make friends, not enemies.
    It’s almost as though, in an attempt to put British peoples on some kind of pedestal, some Americans feel the need to denigrate themselves. I don’t get it. That’s not the path to mutual respect and a good healthy relationship.

  46. avatarMaisie says

    Interesting. I like Americans,though I agree with the comments about how loud they speak. They speak VERY LOUDLY and through their nasal passage, like a whine. So when an American speaks, everyone looks up, confused and astonished at the noise. Also some Americans seem more interested in talking about America than the place they’re visiting.

    As a former barmaid, there are certain times when you should tip, mostly when it’s busy. If you don’t, chances are you’ll be made to wait, and may not get served at all. Usually you’ll say ‘have one for yourself’. In years gone by this meant have a drink yourself and the barmaid would take the price of a drink. In the seventies, you could buy half a pint for ten or twelve pence, and as time went on this remained the ‘price’ taken by a barmaid or barman if you say ‘and one for yourself’. So well into the eighties and early nineties this was the case, although these days they would probably take 50p or a quid. If they take two or three pounds, don’t tip them again, unless it’s the only way to get served, which it may well be.

    • avatarKate says

      I’m an American and I completely agree with how loud we are, such a headache. The east coasters have the heavy nasal accent which can be grating on the nerves. Southern accents are easier on the ear. Us west coasters use a lot of “R” sounds. I do think we mean well~ we LOVE the UK and Europe, for it’s history, beauty and culture.

  47. avatarJohn Brooks says

    stumbled across your site and I am enjoying reading it immensely.
    There is however an inaccuracy in the 15 tips section as it applies to the use of minicabs. These are in fact regulated and are often much cheaper than the equivalent black taxi. The trick is to make sure that they have the second taxi license plate on the car which identifies it as a taxi and also identifies the licensing authority (normally the city in which it operates Manchester,Salford, Leeds etc.)
    I am English and last year became a US citizen also and so have a vested interest in fostering closer ties between what are now my two countries.

  48. avatarKuang says

    I’ve just spent a very pleasant hour browsing the site when I should really have been working – the perils of discovering something new in the run-up to a deadline :)

    As someone who used to work in an extremely busy pub, I’d like to throw in an alternative possibility regarding the ‘tipping bar staff’ debate. If you’re served by the same staff all night then you can maintain the relationship through politeness without tipping during each round; consider helping to collect the empty glasses together as they ‘do the rounds’ or even bringing them back to the bar as you order, for example.

    If at the end of the night you’ve had a good level of service and appreciate the efforts of the staff, consider appending the following phrase on to your final order:

    ‘..and one for yourself’

    Many staff won’t be allowed to keep their own money behind the bar in case there are allegations of skimming the till, so a drink in kind can be very welcome at the end of the night whilst relaxing after a shift. The cost of that drink would probably be the same, or less, than you’d have paid in tips and most bar staff will select a small drink out of courtesy rather than attempt to bankrupt you :)

  49. avatarLaney Darnell says

    After being almost mowed down by a horde of LOUD German tourists, being bored to tears by Brits, I am still thankful for the addition of tourist money to the general economy. Those of you on the other side of the Atlantic should feel likewise. What would you do if we stopped coming? I imagine you would sell a lot less tacky postcards! Americans are not all loud and rude and citizens of the UK are most certainly not all polite and charming. Get over yourselves.

  50. avatarLaura says

    Good heavens. Do people really care what the brits think of us? If so, perhaps we could knock off those “reality” shows that make me utter with disgust.
    I think it’s ridiculous to worry about the majority of these points. We are tourists, take it or leave it, and we are promoting your economy by visiting. We put up with you when you visit. Obviously the only ones that are going to bother reading this post are the ones that would treat you with the same respect and courtesy you are describing, so I hate to say it, but I think you’re reaching to the wrong audience.

  51. avatarMcgregor says

    I have visited London on a number of occasions and can confirm that it is indeed a strange place, a VERY strange place! Londoners would sooner poke themselves in the eye than offer you any form of friendship, in fact if your mouth broke out on fire they would be loath to piss in it for you!
    Best advice I can give is visit England by all means but give London a miss!

    • avatarAurora says

      Dear McGregor,

      I disagree. I’ve never had anyone refuse to help me in London – in fact, the most remarkable thing happened to me in London (and in many parts of Europe as well): if I even looked a bit lost, someone would stop to offer their assistance! I don’t know if that’s unusual, or if I just look pitiful most of the time, but it was lovely.


  52. avatarAlexandra says

    I find some of the posts extremely interesting both in the article and in the comments. Stay out of the way, don’t wear the fanny pack, we can spot you because you wear gym shoes, you’re loud, no eye contact, don’t bother using the subway between these two stations….AND, most importantly, DON’T STOP in the middle of the sidewalk to look at your map!

    I live in (midtown) Manhattan and these are things I silently wish tourists would follow! Some Americans, some Brits, some Italians, some Germans — whatever. Sometimes it just comes down to the fact that you’re a tourist in an unknown place.

  53. avatarLaurieP. says

    I’ve visited England solo several times, always beginning my trip in London. I’m polite, friendly, dress appropriately in “tourist black,” cheerful, and always grateful/delighted to be there! Each trip I have met interesting and helpful people…on the streets, trains, B & B’s; I’ve also been stopped by tourists and asked for directions!! Can’t wait to return.

  54. avatarartemisia says

    My advice is similar to others – keep your voice DOWN on the tube! Before you are going to converse in a public place, look around. See how all the Brits who are talking have lowered their voices? See how you can read your book without someone shouting in your ear? Isn’t it nice?

    The only time I ever saw someone talking loudly into the phone on the tube (something annoying as hell, but common in the states), she had an American accent. The Brits were so polite, they didn’t even glare at her.

    I’ve had the same experience as Laurie – never have I been to a place where people are as friendly and helpful as London. It feels like home.

  55. avatarKari says

    I was fortunate enough to live in the UK for about 7 months, and my rule of thumb was to observe the behaviours of those around me and blend in as much as possible. I was so afraid of being characterised as an “ugly American” that didn’t want to speak to people! I made a lot of Brit friends there, and they are generally very warm and friendly folks. Londoners can be a bit more curt/unfriendly, just as New Yorkers can be characterised as “unfriendly” compared to people in other regions of the country; but if you follow the rules outlined above and blend in, you’ll be fine. Some Londoners may even offer to help without you having to ask!

    One more thing I should add to your rules: observe for bicycle lanes on the paths in the parks. If there is a bike lane, there’s usually a line down the middle of the path. Make sure you’re walking on the correct side. We were almost run down by an irate cyclist in Hyde Park once because of this!

  56. avatarTrish says

    On my last visit to London I found the best way to blend in was to not dress like a tourist at all. I wore jeans and comfortable (yet stylish) shoes, and carried my tourist gear (map, camera, etc.) in a leather tote that looked like something you might use for work.

  57. avatarFimb says

    Sorry, Brit living in London here.

    Alot is VERY true (please please stop LOUDLY complaining about lack of ice in your water / the portions being small / how we’d all be speaking German if it wasn’t for the Americans etc etc!!), but the tipping one is a little strange.

    Bar staff don’t expect a tip, but you can be sure that Waiters do.. Check your bill for a (generally 12.5%) service charge, if its there you can choose to leave nothing, but many places don’t include service, and WILL expect a tip.
    Black cab drivers always appreciate too.
    Be reassured that NO ONE will be offended at being offered extra money!

  58. avatar says

    I’m quite sure the locals aren’t too keen on hearing American tourists going on and on about how “quaint” everything is. And, wherever we go on the planet, may none of us ever be heard to unfavorably compare anything there to what we have at home.

  59. avatarAndy says

    A few random things for your trip to London…

    Jaywalking is legal in Britain. Expect to see people walk out in front of cars, buses and so on and nearly get killed. Londoners are indeed very taciturn people (That’s the best way of telling when someone isn’t local in London – they’re friendly and helpful).

    Oyster can work out to be very expensive for short stays, so don’t fall into the trap. If you’re only there for a day, you’re better off buying a £5.30 (I could be wrong) day ticket. This allows you travel on any bus, train, tube or DLR in Zones 1 and 2. Anything outside of that area is a little less touristy. Do not buy £4 single journeys on the tube! They’re the most expensive rail fare in the world per mile or so I’ve read.

    A tip for travelling by bus would be this… You board at the front doors, and leave at the rear doors! Don’t be tempted to not pay to travel on bendy routes unless you can afford the fine.

    If you’re here on holiday, do visit the new Westfield Centre at Shepherd’s Bush. It’s huge. If you want to buy something, they most likely have a shop there that sells it. If you like that sort of thing, take a trip to the Bluewater Centre, which you can access within 15 minutes by 140mph train from St Pancras (and a short bus journey).

  60. avatarJ.A.Emery says

    It’s like a dream come true, an entire site dedicated to the Anglophile!
    Yet, while feeling somehow validated,(I only know two other people who properly understand why, “Doctor Who” is fabulous), I also am finding these posts most saddening.
    I worked for 16 years in the casino industry in Nevada, as a pitboss, and I grew up in San Francisco.
    I have worked with, and interacted with, most nationalities.
    My parents traveled the world, and often. I was usually at boarding school during their trips, so I have not, yet, been to England.
    My best friend, however, was born in Blackpool, and later moved with her family to Australia, so I have an advantage, there, as she is quite “instructional”, and in our early years of friendship, 15 or so years ago, was terribly straightforward in, “sharing” what I, as an American, (albeit, one raised surrounded by other cultures in an international city), needed to know.
    So that’s me.
    Here is what has upset me about these posts.
    I’m not loud, nobody I am friends with is loud, and nobody in my family is loud, unless it is in private.
    Americans with manner’s?? Could it be??
    There are 320 million, “Americans”. We are all different.
    I have known many English, Irish, Scottish, people.
    Some are loud, some are quiet, some are rude, some are insulting, some are well educated, some are idiots.
    I have never considered a person or a group as a representation of an entire country; good or bad.
    How can a small group, and I mean up to 200 or 300, represent an entire country? I like to think of myself as somewhat critical in my thinking, and somehow, the 5 or 34 or 98 Americans you have seen in your country just doesn’t seem to be viable as an accurate sampling.
    So some morons like to spout the American line, wrongly, usually, and inaccurately, and in the wrong places. So what?
    Don’t you have idiots in your country? Would you like me to decide those UK people are all stuck-up and arrogant, because of a few visitors I once met? Is everybody in England polite, well-read, intelligent, diplomatic, and charming?
    Neither are we, and we hate it as much as the next guy when those brain-damaged people travel abroad. I, for one, would like to be on the panel that decides who is allowed to visit England, because I would like to have the path well-laid for an agreeable reception when I arrive.
    When a visitor, here, has made a mistake, or has not understood a culture difference, everyone I know would be more then happy to assist with kindness, and warmth, so as to alleviate any possible embarrassment.
    That’s called courtesy, and hospitality. I feel quite pleased when I speak to a visitor. How wonderful they have come to see my beautiful country. What a compliment. I hardly care what shoes they are wearing, or if they make a mistake. I am much more interested in who they are.
    The day you think you can describe every American’s faults and mistakes in a few words is the day you forget no matter what country we live in, we are all individuals, and much more alike then we are different.
    Rant over.
    I do still love England, though, Can’t help it. Love it.
    Best to all.

    • avatarJ.A.Emery says

      Crap, there are some serious grammatical errors in my post-not to mention the mind boggling, “we are all individuals and more alike then we are different”
      I meant that we are individuals and have different qualities as individuals, but no matter what culture we may be from, we all dream, and worry, and love our families, and hate traffic.
      Perhaps I should forget trying to clarify.

    • avatarsues says

      loved reading your post Jen (albeit 2010 and I am writing this in 2014). I think the main thing is that every single culture is used to their particular way of living and some people are unable to accept anything different …. but at the end of the day, like you say, we all dream, and worry, and love our families etc.,

  61. avatarJ.A.Emery says

    Oh, and Maisie, I, nor do any of my friends and family, speak through our nasal passages, like a whine. I would happen to know that some British people speak with an entirely unpleasant tone to their voice.
    I should imagine this would be the case in every place on Earth, and that one could locate an irritating, and perhaps nasal-passage whine sounding voice in every corner of the globe.

  62. avatarKimberly Pilkington says

    Maybe it would be better if you said, MOST Americans instead? Not all of us are idiots or insensitive to the cultures we are visiting. The next time I go, I’m not watching BBC America to get some tips on sightseeing, that’s why I’m going, to learn and see. What better history lesson than one given by a Brit while you are there? I’m asking questions because I am genuinely interested, not because I’m trying to be a bother (or is it bovvered?). Maybe British people mistake our excitement for stupidity. I know the first time I went, I was nearly dancing with excitement! I was happy to be there! Couldn’t you take that as the compliment it was intended to be? I love the UK, warts and all. Americans are mostly friendly, happy people. I wanted to submerge myself in British culture to get the most out of my experience. Why would I hang out at a McDonalds??? Geesh. Give me some credit. I want a proper fry-up not an Egg McMuffin. Ok, ok…I made the mistake of asking for ice in my diet coke at the Waltham Mall…bad American, bad! I loved that first trip because I got drunk on the whole British experience and I am forever enamoured of the UK. Sorry, but since you lot don’t do airconditioning, I’m going to wear proper and decent shorts (hiking shorts if I must) in the summer. And really…I saw women wearing shorts on one of your 80° days. I had my first Guinness Stout, extra cold and my first Pimms and the most delish G&T I’ve ever had. I watched, in a pub, a football (soccer) game. Just like ours and even more rabid. I love to hear all the different native accents…north, south, east and west. Delightful! Why can’t you just let us respectfully enjoy your country and say…”another satisfied customer”?

  63. avatarYvonne says

    Please don’t be soooo loud. No we all don’t want to know what you did with Aunty Mary in the Cotswold last year! We also don’t want to hear how its much bigger and better in America when you couldn’t possibly compete with out beautiful quaintness and history.

  64. avatarLove to Roam says

    As we are leaving for our first trip to England in 6 days, we have to say we have learned a lot about Americans on holiday in England. What not to do as well as what to do while visiting.

    We can’t promise we won’t be loud, we are VERY excited to finally afford this trip. We can’t promise not to stop in the middle of the path as we may be so lost we don’t even know where the middle of the path is. We can’t promise to tip properly as British money may still be VERY confusing even after we’ve traveled in the country for our 10 days. We can’t promise to not wear shorts as some of us don’t tolerate heat as well as others. We can’t promise not to wear “tennis shoes” as some of us have sore feet when we wear more stylish footwear.

    What we can promise is to have a good time in your beautiful country and hope that you will forgive us permanent and terminal case of “Americanitis”! We hope that you will be glad as we came as we will be to be there.

    a couple of Love to Roamers

  65. avatarJim says

    Here’s some good American advice on how to enjoy yourself abroad: Fuck the haters.

    Do you feel superior to a German tourist who wears black socks with sandals? Do you talk to a Japanese tourist like she’s an asshole because she can’t identify in English the place she is asking you for directions to? Do you get annoyed with the Aussie tourist who wants to explain to you how much tougher rugby is than “gridiron”? Do you lose patience with the British tourist who thinks he’s an expert on US politics but doesn’t really understand what Federalism is?

    No? Then don’t let other people’s inhospitableness get you down.

  66. avatarStefan Francis says


    I live in London and this is spot on actually. The easiest way to spot an American in the street is to look for ‘mom jeans’, a hoodie and stupid gym shoes- as stated.

    I’m american but I’ve lived in London my whole life so I know both cultures well and English are treated better in the US than American’s in the UK.

    One other one to say is that if you say you’re american you’ll automatically get called ‘a yank’. They will ask why you’re not fat. They will also tell you that Bush is stupid and as a result all Americans are stupid.


  67. avatarShannon says

    I am loving this site! Just have to say my husband and I are fierce anglophiles, we travel to London at least twice a year. (I so miss getting full miles from BA for the cheap seats, used to be able to go more often.) For those of you that haven’t gone — go in the winter. I swear it DOES NOT rain as much as people say and when it does, it usually stops soon. The price is cheaper in winter and I’ve actually done a seven day six night, full English breakfast, four star, flight included for two for as little as $1800.00 INCLUDING taxes! Trust me, if you have access to a computer, you can make it happen.

    RE: The tipping issue, my husband and I are in the casino industry and as we make our living from tips, we pay it forward. No one has EVER been offended and almost all have been appreciative. As here, when you tip well, you get great service.

    It’s hard not to stand out as American’s, but it can be done. Do what the locals do. Watch and learn! One of my favorite experiences was being approached by a French family for directions while walking in Hyde park. They said I looked and acted British, yeah!

    Have a great time, remember not everyone does everything the way we do it here. And for gosh sakes please, please, please, never loudly proclaim “That’s not how we do it in America!”.

  68. avatarJem says

    If you’re asked if you would like to go to the New Den decline the offer politely look at your watch and say ‘ Gordan Bennett ! is that the time best be off ‘

  69. avatarred delicious says

    I’d just like to say that I’m sure you’re a great guy, but as and American ex-pat of seven years, I have to be honest, your list here sucks. It is breathtakingly smug, arrogant, and oh-so-wrong on many counts and I think you are trying way too hard. Let people be themselves. Ugly tourists exist in every nationality and they are usually the ones who lack the self-awareness needed to heed any advice. No shorts, no trainers? Are you kidding me? Tell that to my British husband please, because it’s news him. I’ve travelled pretty extensively all over Europe and this piece of advice you’ve given does not even compute. I’ve seen sneakers everywhere I’ve been. The Italians are particularly stylish in this area. And advising people not to talk about politics because they aren’t as clued up as you are? What?? Who are you? What’s wrong with having a discussion? An exchange of ideas? A meeting of minds? Reading The Times and watching QT is one way to educate yourself, but so is talking to the man on the street. It doesn’t have to be contentious! Furthermore, I have not once initiated a single conversation with any Briton about the war in Iraq, but on more than one occasion I have been pulled up in pubs by complete strangers upon hearing my American accent, so don’t tell me nobody here is interested. Portions are smaller: Sometimes yes, sometimes no; depends on where you go, just like in the U.S. I for one have never been able to put a proper dent in a portion of fish and chips at my village chippy. The War of Independence? They don’t care. I mean they really don’t care. I’ve never heard it discussed here. Ever. Dissing the NHS? Yeah, it’s a bit of a sacred cow for a lot of people, but that doesn’t mean everyone in the country is so enamored– but you’re right, it would be rude for any visitor to attempt any sort of critique. Also, my shorts and Nike wearing husband tips– not as much as we Americans– but he still tips.

    You seem to be doling out advice so as to cater to the sensibilities of a xenophobic ogre who cannot cope with outsiders invading his turf. Of course you’re going to stand out from time to time, but so what? What must go through your head when you see groups of Japanese tourists in American cities? Are you equally as incredulous at their conspicuousness? What is the harm in looking the part? Why do you want to make people self-conscious? Honestly, the mind boggles.

    Re: The loud American comments. I too have heard the sometimes booming voices of my countrymen but it should go without saying that we’re not all so boisterous, and you’re kidding yourselves if you think every last British subject is a reserved gentleman or lady. I’ve been to the city centres on a Friday night and after football matches. I know better. So do all those continental cities overrun with stag and hen nights as well as the flight crews for Ryanair and Easyjet. Loud voices will tend to catch your ear more often when the accompanying accent is a foreign one.

    I’m aware that I’ve come off pretty harsh in this comment, but I’m honestly sick to my back teeth of my fellow Americans who think the have to apologize for the rest of us. “In defense of the Brits, who are continually disgusted by my American brothers…” Why? You sound like the nerd in school desperate to get in with the cool crowd. They don’t all feel that way about us, you know? As you say, the British are generally aware of their own shortcomings, including those of their own tourists, and will usually refrain from throwing stones from their glass houses, and those who don’t, don’t deserve my attention. I know how to behave, apart from this message, I am actually very polite, but I have no interest in walking on eggshells because of a few misanthropes who should probably be looking to relocate to somewhere in the Outer Hebrides.

    Oy vey, and have a nice day. 😉

    • avatarBill P says

      Good post. The thing about visiting any country with a load of pre-conceptions is that you wont be content until you find examples to justify them. So, if you expect to find British people prissy, sensitive about the NHS or any other thing then there is a good chance you will get your wish.
      There is an unfortunate tendency among my countrymen to try and start a conversation with a foreign tourist by blurting out a ” friendly” insult to show they are willing to be intimate and chummy. It is a mild wind up to see if you can take a joke. Unfortunately these tend to be crass stereotypical comments that merely leave the unfortunate victim bemused and bewildered. Please accept a blanket apology in advance.
      the best advice i can offer to anyone hearing a stupid, fatuous comment is to have a stupid comment ready in reply, eg:

      -Yeah – anyway where can I get a decent curry round here thats the only reason I came
      – I actually met with the Queen yesterday and she said the opposite

  70. avatarSarah says

    I came across this after it was linked to me on Facebook – interesting page, however this list is at best out of date and at worst complete misinformation – no offence.

    The main thing that stuck out for me is the comment about the war of independence. I understand why Americans like to crow about this since it is the only example in history of Britain and “America” at war and the short and sweet of it is that America won, and doesn’t like the idea of the British not being particularly bothered about it.

    To the British public, it’s a non-issue. No one cares about it at all – we don’t have a national chip on our shoulder about it and never have done. If it’s brought up in normal conversation no one feels the need to reaffirm their national pride or spew some patriotic spiel to clear the air.

    The only time it will cause a Brit any ire is when Americans try to force a reaction; the goading we Brits find ignorant and arrogant as it seems most Americans only know the ‘Team America’ version of the war which is where they sent us packing through sheer force of American pride; when in fact it was only with significant help from the French, Spanish and Dutch that the British colonies won their independence form Britain. Our irritation is then mistakenly interpreted as some sort of ‘sore loser’ complex, as demonstrated by it’s inclusion in your list.

    You’ve said it yourself, the British people come second to the country itself when you visit; (which is odd in some senses since most people would say a nation IS it’s people), so I think perhaps your view of us is not quite in line with reality.

    It might interest you to know that it is generally held in Britain that the American war of independence was simply a civil war between the British and their own people. Also, the British public of the time were heavily against military action and were in favour of American independence. So while Americans view it as their greatest military victory, us Brits view it as a civil affair which ended in the way the British public had been demanding from the start. If any nation should be familiar with it’s government making decisions that do not align with the desires of it’s people; it’s America!

    As a result, no sourness has been passed down to the current generation. Brits are often taken off guard by the American desire to prove themselves better than their parent nation. It’s just not on our radar at all.

    As someone else said here, we are so unperturbed by it that we readily celebrate American independence from Britain along with Americans. Come to London on the 4th of July some time – you might be surprised.

  71. avatarErin says

    Wow. I spend a lot of time in the UK and have to say that I disagree with you on a lot of these things.

    On tipping, I know many British restauranteurs who would disagree with you vehemently.

    On politics, I am often bombarded with questions about my views on American/British/World politics when I travel to the UK. People are trying to feel me out to see if I’m a Bushie or not. It is frankly quite annoying.

    When it comes to us trying to prove ourselves to our mother country, I just don’t get it. Pundits in the UK are obsessed with how we feel towards them to the point of misrepresentation, such as saying we were turning anti-Brit because of the Gulf disaster, when nothing could be further from the truth. BP isn’t exactly in our good graces, but the British people didn’t cause the spill. Also, we have no mother country we are a melting pot. Great Britain may be a part of that history, but it has long since ceased to have influence over us in the way it does Canada and Australia.

    I really love the UK, but just because you love the UK doesn’t mean you have to be willfully ignorant of the diversity of thoughts, actions and beliefs of people in the United States. We are not all the same, we are not so easily fit into the same mold. I would think someone from here would have taken the time to understand this complex and nuanced society.

  72. avatarBill P says

    For goodness sake!
    It’s your holiday – sorry vacation – so wear what you like. No-one in Britian will turn a hair.
    Do tip people if they deserve it. Waiters in Briatin are no richer than the US.
    And dont be afrid to complain about the service. We Brits are too up tight to do it ourselves. Believe you me you are doing us a favour if they have to up their game.
    Dont ever, ever, ever belive that someone is a taxi driver unless they are in a cab rank. The real taxi drivers will soon deal with any imposters.

  73. avatarRaffaele says

    Some points I think would be useful…

    1) On the Tube (that’s The Underground to everyone else) in London by no accounts should anybody make unnecessary noise. Doing so will ensure a painful and brutal homicide by other commuters, no Londoner likes the Tube.

    2) In a queue for coffee please God decide what you want by the time you get to the front of the line. Not doing so will result in looks that could melt stone. In the UK doing this on a train station (especially in London) where people are in a hurry will also result in murder.

    3) Please, please, please don’t go on about the 1700’s War of Independence or WWII. Two topics guaranteed to rile the British are these, we don’t care about the War for Independence (although we often use it as an excuse to have a free boozy party). However we especially dislike the memories of our servicemen during WWII and also WWI being minimised or deemed insignificant. THAT really pisses us off.

    That’s the funny thing about us. We can take endless stick from other nationalities about Britain, the British people but we can also dish it out. However start attacking British history or our traditions and you may as well write your will and build your own coffin. The brutality of the insults and quips that WILL be directed at you seriously hurt.

  74. avatarlinda says

    Generally funny article. I was warned before traveling to the West Country last summer about what to do and not do. I found the people to be warm and friendly. Standing in a que for the bus or in Asda, every time someone would talk to me about Obama or comment about Obama.

    The whole thing about shorts…as it was a hot summer I saw more pale naked British legs and chests than I care to see again.

    I agree that most Yanks are loud and a lot are rude. An example of this was going through customs,the EU que was orderly and quiet, the US que was loud, no order and people pushing in front of one another. That is one aspect of the US I did not miss.

    My friends who are Brummies…wear trainers everyday.

    All and all a funny article love the picture and yes plenty of us Yanks stick out when we travel, but so do Brits when they go to Spain.

    The only advice my English friends gave me was to NOT podge the que.

  75. avatarann says

    I am mortified! I didn’t know one was not supposed to tip the taxi driver. I love Britain and all things English in particular. I’ve traveled there a lot and have generously tipped the cabbie every time I got out of one. (Not to mention everyone else I thought deserved one.) The only thing I can say in my defense is that nobody ever refused to take it! I wish I had all that extra money back. By now I could afford another trip!

    • avatarsues says

      All cab drivers I know, and whose services I and my family have used, not only LIKE a tip, but they EXPECT one.

  76. avatarClaire says

    I’m New To This Site And I’m Confused To Wether it Is An American Or British Person Who Is Writing This Article. My First Guess Is That Its An American Cause You Guys Call It A Sidewalk But Then Again It Might Be A Brit As This Article Seems To Be For Americans They Could Just Be Making Sure They Understand. Either Way I Find This Article Very Inaccurate. People Like To Be Tipped I Wouldnt Know Cause I Dont Work In uch An Industry But I Suppose They Would Appreciatte The Extra-Cash. And As For The Shorts Thing If YOU Had Been Watching The News Then You Would Realise That A Couple Of Months Ago They Were Talking About Everywhere They Went People Either Had Their Shirts Off Or Were Wearing Shorts And Bikinis In Normal Parks Trying To Soak Up The Vitamin D In The Summer. And Those Comments Who Wanna Trade Us By Us Not Calling Them Yanks And They’ll Stop Calling Us Brits. I personally Dont Call You Yanks And I Dont Know Anyone Who Calls You Guys Yanks And None Of Us Really Have A Problem With You Calling Us Brits, Its Just A Way Of Abbreviating The Term That Generalises us.

    • avatarspeak for yourself says

      I HATE being called a Brit.
      Why do so many people think they can speak for people they don’t know?!

      • avatarsues says

        I too hate being called a Brit. I’m English and proud of my heritage, just as the Scots, Irish and Welsh are proud of theirs.

  77. avatarcole says

    Aside from the misspelled words like colour, the refusal of pronouncing words properly, the inability to understand more defined and possible much more educated peoples accents, along with the annoying ignorance of how to say the last letter of the alphabet (ZED!), my greatest shock in moving over here (from South Africa) was that they don’t have VINEGAR with their CHIPS!

    The funny thing is that over here, everyone i talk to knows barely anything about their own country, never mind about the rest of the world. Few have even left their town and could care less about even local news. I got so tired of saying that South Africa isn’t a giant safari, that I simply joined them, telling any fool who asked, that I had a pet lion, and we swam together in the river in my garden. I wonder why them am I the only one in maybe 300 Km who can speak four languages… excluding lion of course.

    Arrogance, ignorance and constant exaggeration seems to pretty much sum up the daily dawdling they call life here.

    Yet here I am, for my own reason, and also obvious reasons to get away from the hell that is South Africa. Until I find a place that is truly as green on the other side as it looks.

  78. avatarTom says

    I think it’s strange that Americans think that we care about the War of Independence. I mean it happened hundreds of years ago and it’s not like you invaded us, we lost a small part of our empire that we would have ended up losing like the rest of it eventualy. The thing i imagine probaly annoys most English is being constantly accused of having a chip on our shoulders about it.

    If you guys have a good look at English military history you’ll see our main enemy were the French, we have been at war over 35 times since 1066-

  79. avatarkaren says

    Just found your site – very interesting! I am English, lived in the UK all my life but have travelled to the US several times.
    On the whole a lot of good advice on here. Tipping seems to be the main confusion. We were chased down the street in Colorado after we didnt quite tip the right amount, and screamed at in Cheers in boston after we didnt tip to the waiters satisfaction, despite doubling the tax. In the UK this will NEVER happen, so dont fret about it. But I always tip black cab drivers – as someone else said, if its £8.50, round it up to £9 etc. I have never in my life tipped a barman for serving me a drink at the bar. It would appear the law has changed regarding restaurant staff, but if I have had amazing service i always check that the wait staff do actually get the tip I leave in the service charge thats added to the bill. if they dont I have refused to pay the service charge, and handed the waiter cash instead. If the service was fine and there is a service charge added, just pay that.

    As a lot of people have said, please dont say you saved our asses in WW2, even in jest – most people find that deeply offensive. As for the War of Independence, I dont think most Brits even realise we were involved, so any ribbing will be lost on them.

    We generally arent as outgoing with strangers as you guys – doesnt mean we dont like you, dont take it personally! I would say of all tourists, we like you the best – you speak our language, kind of :) So try engaging us in conversation, or asking for help – you may be pleasantly surprised.

    And dont just stay in London. Take a trip out to Hampton Court Palace, an amazing sight – have a walk round Henry VIII’s palace!!! Try the Eden Project in Cornwall. Arundel on the south coast, a lovely little old town with good shops and restaurants and a castle on the hill. If you want shopping, get a coach to Bicester, fantastic designer shopping though the prices probably arent as good as youre used to. And Oxford – youve got to go to Oxford. Here for a while – head up to Scotland, Edinburgh is lovely. Golfers – Turnberry or St Andrews.

    Just come and enjoy!!

  80. avatarRonald says

    I’m American and plan on relocating to England in the near future thanks to my wife’s Irish passport.

    I’ve always gotten along really well with English people I’ve met in the States. My best friend’s family are from Manchester and I’ve also formed a kinship with my next door neighbour who’s from Brighton. I have a great appreciation for British humour and their brand of football.

    It’s best not to ask too many personal questions of English locals such as “Where are you from?” or “What do you do for a living?” You can rub people the wrong way asking those sort of questions straight away.

  81. avatarGraham says

    I suppose I am the opposite of an an Anglophile, I was born and bred in Manchester (well Cheshire actually) but love American culture and really don’t understand a lot of the comments here. Yes as a nation we have our quirks but as a general rule we are easy to get on with.
    Comments Like – ‘my greatest shock in moving over here (from South Africa) was that they don’t have VINEGAR with their CHIPS!’ astound me – where on earth were you getting your chips from, vinegar is a necessity with your chips in Manchester, in fact if you go a bit further north you can order scraps ( bits of batter left over from frying fish).
    Yes, in many ways I suppose we are a bit backwards, however we are a friendly nation, and I have never heard a bad word said about visitors. OK Americans can be loud, but who cares, you may get the odd look in your direction, but so what.
    For anyone thinking about visiting the UK, we are a friendly nation with a diverse culture. Yes, if you go to small towns in the middle of nowhere it might be a bit like ‘An American Wherefolf In London’, but i’m sure the same applies to the US (Deliverance, Southern Comfort, (bit exaggerated but You get my point)).
    My best advice is be yourselves, if you’re loud by nature maybe tone it down but here are my best tips:
    1) London is not the be all and end all of the UK, I personally hate it, I feel that the people don’t reflect the country in any way.
    2) Travel, travel, travel. In my many years of living here (35 years (OK maybe not so many as to be a critic)) I have been to most counties and a lot of places of interest. Go off the beaten track. Visit the Lake District, in all my time as a traveller I still find it hard to find anywhere as beautiful.
    3) Research, a lot of places of interest aren’t immediately apparent ( prime example Alnwick Castle – beautiful!)
    4) Don’t take any negative comments from posts to heart! – Don’t forget these are peoples personal opinions – what they hate you may love!
    5) The NHS, yes the waiting times aren’t great but I had to have a surgical procedure that would have cost the earth – people ridicule it all the time, but it’s nice to know it’s there if you need it as opposed to relying on insurance!
    6) Visit the north, OK the weather isn’t great, but you’ll get a better feeling for the country – northerners are generally more friendly – you’ll hear a big thing about the North/South divide, it does exist to a degree. Northerners are generally more agreeable and more likely to invite you to the pub for a pint, and yes a pint after work is normal.
    7) Tipping: I can’t speak for the south, but generally in the North we tip 10% for a waiter service and in a taxi we round up – however if you are skint/ brassic/ poor, etc, don’t worry – a cabbie will not be offended ( I had to pay a cabbie in pennies the other day and he wasn’t bothered in the slightest).
    8) I’ve read that US people have problems with our boilers (immersion heaters), if you have any problems, contact your landlord and get them to explain it ot you – they might not be used to it but at the end of the day you are paying for it!
    One final note goes to Jonathan and Jackie Thomas, great site, if you’re in the UK and need somewhere to stay (up north) then please feel free to contact me (it’s not the Ritz).
    If anyone needs any advice with regards to moving to the UK then please contact me.



  82. avatarPippa says

    Oh this is brilliant!!! I love it! As I’m sure you’ve already read above, ignore the tipping point, but I’m not going to bother going into details – I’m sure you’ve already seen.

    I am half English, half Canadian, but lived in England nearly all my life. (Cambridge) I have to say, the only main point I have to make is don’t be too loud!!! If you speak in an American accent loudly, you’re a stupid tourist, but if you just speak in an American accent, nobody cares. But you would do well not to say you were essential for the war. Nobody cares about it, but if they think you do, they will too. The same applies for Germans. We will start being patriotic either during the football when they beat us (German: “We beat you in the football!” English person: “Well who won the World Wars?”) or if it happens to come up in conversation and the other side is being defensive about it. 😉

    The only time we are loud is during football. I think lots of English people take pride in the fact that we may totally reject anyone from another country during the football world cup! You will still see England flags up for weeks after we’ve lost, and all if you are an American who’s come to England any time in the few months after we drew with the USA last summer, you really don’t want to make it obvious… :S Really, there were no hard feelings about it, but nobody wanted to admit that, so (at least where I was) they were openly hostile about it (don’t worry though – only with looks). And as for the NHS etc, yes, everyone complains about it, but you are only allowed to do so if you actually are English! Everyone will suddenly be wildly in favour of everything English if they hear a foreigner complain about it. We can be quite patriotic. 😉

    I would just like to mention as well that if you are going to Cambridge or Oxford (and I’m sure there are similar things in other places) there is a lot of rivalry between the universities. Whatever you do, though you can buy them, do NOT wear a T-Shirt or whatever that has the other place written on it *winces*. And please do try out punting, it’s great, but look at what other people are doing and copy it. In Cambridge, you punt from the back of the boat, and in Oxford you punt from the front.

    Good luck, hope we don’t disappoint you all when you arrive! I find this site so flattering. It’s as if we are cooler than everywhere else, which I only TRY to believe, but never really quite manage…

    Pippa x

  83. avatarAlexis says

    As an American who lives in London and is married to a Brit, I found this article amusing. But some of it was a bit off-key.

    Shorts are acceptable, but good luck getting a warm enough day to wear them! I’m from So. California, so I know heat. It doesn’t really ever get hot enough in England for me to wear shorts. And the whole shorts-with-leggings thing doesn’t work for me. (You know who you are, ladies!)

    British portions aren’t that small. And if all else fails, there are plenty of frigging Pizza Huts to satisfy gluttony (And don’t tell me only Americans eat there, because I know plenty of fat Brits!)

  84. avatarPatrick says

    Finally someone said it! Yup, fanny=vagina. And don’t call trousers, slacks, jeans, etc. pants, either, as pants means underpants in the UK. Those were two things I quickly learned on my first (of many) trip there.

  85. avatarRB says

    It seems as if a lot of commenters seem to have misread the title of the original blog post or have failed to understand the sweeping generalisation made as being just that.

    They are not personal attacks on specific Americans and the author seems to be suggesting some hints on how to distance yourselves, if you are Americans travelling to the UK, from the _stereotypical_ image of Americans abroad.

    For my part as a English guy (Londoner), having dated a girl in NY for a few years before moving to Switzerland and now have settled in Singapore my comments would be only these;

    If you start complaining about things in the UK to natives then expect to get comments back that are likely to be more insulting. It is a pastime for a lot of people in the UK to insult each other, usually in a fun and friendly way (in some places known as friendly banter). This means that a lot of people are well versed in creating and delivering insults in the UK. The British also tend to make a pastime of pointing out their own weaknesses but don’t take too kindly to a stranger helping to locate these weaknesses for them. If you are friends then it will usually be ok but, again, expect to get some abuse back, hopefully good natured.

    Most of the following comments are mainly about London from my 30 odd years living there and I am clearly not speaking for all Londoners :-p.

    Shorts are rare until the sun comes out and then it is anything goes. Girls in bikinis and guys topless in the cities parks. Unfortunately this usually only lasts for a few weeks a year.

    Trainers (gym shoes) are usually worn by the younger people but there is no rule stating this is not acceptable for anyone else. They do not tend to be adorned by day-glow colours or strobe lights though.

    I tend to wear comfortable shoes (not pipe and slipper yet though) like those made by caterpillar now days but certainly try not to wear brogues even when working for 10 years in the ‘financial mile’.

    Fanny packs others have explained about. Very old fashioned (my 60 y/o father still uses one) and commonly known as bum bags, due I believe to the fact that the bag was worn with the bag part to the rear and so over the bottom. Calling them fanny packs will get you a strange look, a smerk, or an ‘oh your American’ type smile.

    The Tube and standing on the right is just a part of being considerate to others who may be in a bit more of a rush than you. People failing to do so in Singapore is a bit of a pet hate.

    Not so sure about complaining about the rain, I would have thought complaining about the lack of a decent summer would be higher on the list. Commenting on the weather would be fair but not so much about complaining.

    As far as complaining about anything else then as above, be prepared to get abuse back.

    Black cabs are generally for tourists and people in a big hurry. Most people I have known would avoid and call a local mini-cab company. They are listed in the telephone book which if you are lucky may still be in the public phone booth. They usually have cards stuck around in phone booths for mini-cabs (and other things) or you can ask your hotel reception / local friends to recommend. Never pick up a mini-cab on the streets especially if you are a female travelling alone. At least booking from a mini-cab office your route is likely to be recorded and more than just you and the taxi driver know where you are going. This is specifically for London and I am aware other places have different systems with mini-cabs in the UK. I have used mini-cab companies for 20 years in London without a problem but never picked up a mini-cab who was waiting at the side of the road, usually outside a club or pub.

    As can be seen from the various comments, there is a lot of different opinion on tipping. For my part it is simple…. Tip for good service, don’t tip for bad service. A tip is a show of appreciation to the waiter or waitress for good service given. A waitress or waiter supplying good service will get better tips and therefore, in an ideal world, better income than a bad waitress / waiter. Due to this I find it incredible that people tip regardless of service in NY. As can be seen from this thread, most people who would be on the receiving end of a tip are at odds to explain why tips are required. If I was being ignored in a bar because I did not tip the barman then I would find another bar and complain the the manager / brewery. Saying that, back when I was not married with 3 kids, I did offer ‘and one for yourself’ to a few barmaids although it never got me anywhere :-).

    Talking about politics is fine for the most part although many people may find it boring. Criticizing is likely to get you abuse unless you are sharing your views with friends.

    Stuffing your face will just be playing to the stereotypical ‘lardy’ American image but if you must then order two portions.

    Entitlement… this is not too uncommon for British abroad to also have. So much so that the Foreign office has been displaying a film noting that just because you are British, don’t expect to get special treatment abroad. Americans are generally liked if they are able to calm their enthusiasm (only needed for those who get a bit overenthusiastic by British standards).

    Commenting on winning WWII about saving our butts is likely to be met with anything from disbelieving stares to questions about “why you waited 2 years to get involved whilst eating popcorn as thousands of our soldiers were dying and shouldn’t you be ashamed” to a punch in the face. Whilst it is clear that sitting around doing nothing isn’t exactly what happened to the educated, aircraft supplied by pushing them over the Canadian border for example, obviously the educated would not be making such a silly comment in the first place.

    Stopping in the centre of the street (side-walk) is just displaying a lack of consideration for others and every nationality has people guilty of it. Just be mindful to provide the least inconvenience to others and you will be appreciated for it for the most part.

    The economic meltdown is not the fault of the American public directly and anyone who suggests it is clearly is devoid of the intelligence required to have a reasonable discussion on the subject.

    One other comment about what not to wear….. plaid trousers have not really been in fashion for many, many years in London unless worn by a stunningly hot model and lets face it, a bin bag would look good on a lady like that.

    To sum up…. most will be friendly especially if they know you are American. Treat others with respect and if you tend to get quite loud and enthusiastic about things, try a little moderation. Read a little about the different use of English to avoid misunderstandings. All fairly standard stuff fro most people whether they are Americans or British.

    To those who have suggested that they should wear and behave however they like, be prepared for quite a few negative reactions. Just think, would you want people coming from other countries and doing whatever they wanted in America with no consideration of your country or culture ?


  86. avatarModee says

    As something of an Anglophile I am looking forward to, one day, visiting the U.K. But, I have to admit to being a little put off by this blog entry. I appreciate all the encouraging comments; you’ve made up for the initial negativity.
    Anyway, it seems a lot of feelings have been hurt on both sides of the pond. So I propose we make amends by each of us saying one thing we really appreciate about the others country. It doesn’t matter if anyone agrees with you, just that you are thankful for it. I’ll start…

    David Bowie

  87. avatarSteven says

    There’s no reason to try to hide the fact you’re American in England…just keep your voice down, resist the urge to tell complete strangers your entire life’s story on first meeting, and for goodness’ sake, NEVER take the last biscuit at tea.

    I’m American, and it only took a while to figure these things out.

  88. avatark says

    …okay first of all, we are Americans, from America. Fanny packs are fanny packs here. It’s natural cultural and linguistic drift people, get over yourselves. The word for gift in German, for example… is not GIFT. And the English word GIFT to Germans means poison. Extending courtesy is common sense, but have a care toward common ground here! Mother of pearl… I am gonna wear a fanny pack, and call it a fanny pack, if I please. It’s like telling me to wear a burka when i don’t belong to religions that require it. not gonna happen. I have my own belief system. Respect can be shown by both parties in ways that encroach on neither. Learn to be more tolerant, on BOTH sides of the fence. GOOD GRIEF! Critical thinking put in context! What has become of this???

    • avatarTardis Mole says

      I wouldn’t stop Americans from calling anything by any name, but in Britain the word fanny means something completely different. Don’t EVER use it here. For any reason. The English are great people, but NEVER call them Brits. When we first came here it was a culture shock, and for tourists who are here, generally for a few days at a time, it can be a bit confusing. This is only a guide, and there are some errors in it, but you can count on one thing: NEVER ask a BRIT about his FANNY BAG. Most likely you’ll get a slap, or a ‘what?!’. And the likelihood of having your bag snatched is no greater in London than anywhere else in the world. Americans come here to soak in the culture for a little while, check in on their roots, and thats nice, but be sure to watch your speech, your volume and your body language. With the English, they take as they find. Be nice and they’ll be nice to you. To the site writer, I suggest you check your opinions before your post. You certainly know how to annoy a lot of people, and how to get things wrong. However well intentioned you might be. By the way, here’s a tip.

  89. avatargreg says

    no we pretty much did save their ass’es in the war even before we were involved we were involved ie ….shipping , war materials and even some americans were fighting before the us entered. true enough england has plenty to be proud of in ww 2 but the fact remains without us they would be speaking german right now.

    • avatarCPC says

      Please, do not feed the trolls.
      And because I like the idea posted upthread of appreciating gifts from the other’s culture:
      Terry Pratchett, John Cleese, and Doctor Who.

  90. avatarLynnD says

    You know, I think there is something that is being missed by all the discussion about the US war of independence 200+ years ago. For Americans, it is a seminal, defining moment of the country. Do we often fail to understand the other side of the story? Of course. Do we often (especially in school) gloss over the help we received from other countries? Yes. But, would there be a United States of America without that war? Probably not. THAT’s why we talk about it all the time–it marks the beginning of who we are. No doubt other countries, countries younger than Britain, talk about their beginnings as well.

    Also, don’t discount the degree to which we are, quite simply, charmed and interested in how our countries and how the people in them are different.

    As an American working for a British company, at this moment sitting in one of our London flats watching a British drama on TV (based, oddly, on a Swedish book), I’ve done my share of observing and questioning and wondering about our similarities and our differences.

    Accents are fascinating–in the US we have diverse accents, but probably fewer of them than in the UK. Why is that? Why are there different accents between locations that are so close together?

    And then the ways things function inside a home–the differences are significant, and it makes me wonder how they either illustrate or determine how we live our lives differently. In the UK, you turn off the power at the outlet, whereas we don’t in the US. Are Brits more careful about electricity use than Yanks, or is there some other reason? The humidity in the UK seems to have created a bigger business in anti-frizz haircare products and also in moisturizers that are lighter than we find in the US–how does that difference in climate affect personal care? Do Brits use less hot water than Yanks? The faucets (taps) tend to always be separate ones for hot and cold, and the water heaters are tiny. And then the refrigerators! Although not the case everywhere, for the most part it seems like refrigerators in the UK are substantially smaller than in the US. Freezer space is especially smaller. Is that one of the reasons why chilled foods are so much more popular in the UK?

    One thing we do have in common–no matter how many television channels there are, there is almost never anything decent on to watch.

  91. avatarDiana says

    I am an American who has been to England and who loves all things British. I have been laughing about the “loud” American comments. Have any of you been around any Germans lately? They speak very loudly, which was good for me when I lived there since I’m hard of hearing. I have been all over the world, but when in England, I feel at home. The people are nice and polite. I’m sure there are cranky people everywhere, but after having lived around the jerrys for years, I was so glad to be in England, that I felt like weeping.

  92. avatarCharlotte says

    Worth noting – the history we are taught in British schools tends to be focussed on WW1 and 2 … so not only are most Brits not ‘sore’ about the Revolutionary war, most kids are ignorant to it having happened! Scary but true!

    I think i learnt more about US history from the Simpsons than from school! ;o)

  93. avatarDebC says

    One more thing that I don’t think anyone’s mentioned, but I’ve seen Americans (and others) using the V sign when ordering 2 of something. Try to avoid holding your index and middle finger upright, with the back of your hand facing the other person. It’s a mild insult.

    It’s OK to hold up 2 fingers if your palm’s facing the other person.

  94. avatarMilander says

    It really doesn’t matter what you do as an American. As soon as you open your mouth the accent will pop straight out, all the listeners preconceptions (good or bad) will fall into his head and you’re right at square one again.

    The only benefit to this article is to enable you to hide yourself in the culture to prevent the one twat in a million from punching you – “‘cos yanks are all wankers wot!”.

    Personally, I know Americans who I’d happily let my daughter have babies with, and I’ve met a few who I’d like to drop into a meat grinder by the inches… dick first. Same as over here to be honest.

  95. avatarEnglish Girl says

    The tipping thing is off, If you go to a nice restaurant and the waiter was polite and helpful and there wasn’t a service charge, it’s always nice to leave a £ or two.

  96. avatarCamille Donegan says

    If you are going to generalize an entire people , you are just as good as the ignorant sops you are talking about. There are perfectly well educated Americans that like to travel and live abroad. For us to break away from the sloppy stereotype that all Americans are stupid, loud, and obnoxious, we have to start focusing on the positive and not the negative. Do you believe you are making anything easier for American’s living abroad? There is already enough going against us when we travel, leave it be. The tourists you are writing this column for will never read it. Why do you think they are like that in the first place?

  97. avatarLou Ann says

    I have been to England twice and planning to go again in the near future when I can afford to. There is a difference between a traveler and a tourist. A traveler knows the history, customs and even the language before taking a trip and blends in when he or she gets there. A tourist goes over not knowing anything, expects to be entertained and treated like you are at an amusement park. They travel around in groups and never blend in. I am a traveler. I have studied British history since I was a kid and grew up in the 60’s when British accents were common over in the States. When I hear a slang term I don’t understand I simply stop the person and ask them to translate that word for me. I have a hard time with people with thick accents like the Welsh and some Scots because they talk to fast or under their breath and all the words run together. I have to ask them to slow down or speak the Queen’s English, but I don’t go HUH!! Every where you go whether it is in the States, UK, or anywhere else each area has their own slang and way of speech. All the English speaking nations have different ways of expressing themselves, you simply have to do your homework and learn their slang, just like they have to learn ours.

    As to tipping, I was told to tip when I was there the first time. An Australian girlfriend told me that they don’t tip in Australia and she didn’t tip a London cabby and he cussed her out. I tipped the two times I was there and no one complained or told me differently. I will have to ask some of my British friends about this.

    When I go to the UK, I blend in. I don’t go over there as an American. I am a traveler. I go by myself and socialize with the people there and make friends. I actuallly have had American tourists come to me for directions. I was terribly embarrassed the first time I was in London when I was walking through my hotel lobby hearing this American southern lady yell to the top of her lungs, “This ain’t like America. You don’t have this and you don’t have that and so on.” I waved to the porters (who knew I was American) to not let her know I was there and rapidly left the lobby with the porters laughing at my antics. When I went back the second time, I took my mom and told her if she pulled that ugly American routine, I would put on an Irish accent and leave her to fend for herself. That I wouldn’t put up with rudeness and I meant it. You don’t go into someone home and criticize, why would you go to another country and do the same? When you travel to another country, you can’t expect the same things you see in America. It is a different country and they do things differently than we do. If you don’t like it, don’t go.

  98. avatarRockaRolla says

    I’m using an iPod Touch, so I apologize for any awkward spaces etc. in advance.

    I’m from New England (Southern New Hampshire, and about 40 minutes north of Boston, to be more specific) and I’m going to be visiting my former exchange partner from Germany from 4 years back with a few friends in July. Since the UK is on the way, we figured “what the hell?” So, we’ll be taking a week long trip there before visiting Germany. While the article did seem informative, I’ll take the advice of the native British posters here. Especially with the tipping and socialization aspects.

    I imagine we’ll have a bit of an ‘edge’ over most other American tourists. A lot of the locations here are named after English towns and cities (lots of ‘cesters’, ‘hams’, ‘chesters’ etc.), and the New England culture and way of life is definitely the most similar to overall British culture than the rest of the U.S. – but still with its own distinct, unique flair. So far, we’ve decided we’d spend time in London and Manchester, but we’re trying to think of some other places to visit as well. We’d like to visit the countryside, even though it’s pretty similar to the more rural areas here, and a few smaller towns and villages, and maybe visit Scotland and Wales if we have the time. If anyone here could point out a few good places to visit, that’d be greatly appreciated!

    I’ve gotta say: I’m wicked excited to visit the UK. I love a lot of the music that came from there (Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, The Sex Pistols, G.B.H etc.), and I love history, so visiting an area like the UK with a very rich history is right up my alley. Any suggestions for good historical sites to visit other than the obvious ones would be appreciated, as well. I’m pretty well informed about the UK – I understand the difference between ‘English’ and ‘British’, and that England alone isn’t the UK. The overall culture and mindset isn’t too different from my area, so like I said earlier, I imagine we’ll fit in rather well and enjoy ourselves without too much trouble. Hopefully have more than a couple brews, shake a few hands and chat up a few cute English Roses.

    Oh, and by the way – Yankees are from New England. Most Americans don’t mind the term, but a lot of Southerers get a bit raw (bat shit crazy, in some cases) about being called Yanks, due to the time period of 1861-1865 ha!

    Any and all advice and help will be welcomed with open arms. :)

    • avatarJohnnie Raff says

      RockaRolla, Do London on foot, museums are free and so are the wonderful parks. Find old pubs in the West End and drink hand-pulled ales, they are very varied in their flavours. I’m from London originally (and I love New England btw, worked in summer camps for 3 summers as a student) but I now live in Northumberland, the last county in England on the London to Edinburgh road. We have the most castles in England, Lindisfarne Island (or Holy Island as it is more commonly called) is the birthplace of Christianity in England. It has a remote castle and the ruins of a monastery. The Northumbrian coast is stunning, wide, flat, golden beaches with some of the biggest dunes you’ll see anywhere. And you’re likely to have one to yourself. Northumberland is the least densely populated county in the whole of England. You are also just north of the furthest outpost of the Roman Empire here so we have Hadrians (roman) Wall which straddles wild rugged countryside across the country from Newcastle in the east and over Cumbria to Carlisle in the west. Northumbrian hospitality is as good as anywhere in the UK. The food in pubs is amazing and not expensive. Beer is a lot cheaper here too than in London. Visit Newcastle on the way up. It’s quayside area is beautiful and historic and if you get a chance go and watch Newcastle United play at home. Great atmosphere and the stadium, St James Park, is slap bang in the middle of the city. Could go on forever eulogising about where I live now but I’ve got to get ready for work. Enjoy your trip!

  99. avatarJimBy says

    We like to use the phrase Yanks because we know it grates on the ears of many from America. It’s our revenge for their use of the phrase Yerpeens. Or Brits. That one’s particularly irritating because we are four different nationalities here. I wonder how many Americans would like to be asked: ” And which part of Mexico are you from? ……oh…..you’re not from Mexico?…. how can this be, it’s on the same land mass…”

    I spend a bit of time showing foreign visitors round my home town, Americans included and one thing has always impressed me about the latter: their sheer enthusiasm to see all the things they can get to. They don’t give up! The London bit is pretty easy, Buckingham Palace, Changing of the Guard, The Tower of London etc but once you’ve seen those you need to be on a train out of there. There are some of the best museums and galleries in the world in the City but in the summer they can be incredibly crowded and so thronged that it’s difficult to get round them, so you see very little. London is just too expensive and it would be a pity if you miss out on our country’s attractions outside it while you have the chance. Britain is small, but not that small and it takes time to get from one place to another, so you really need to weigh up where you want to go in terms of it’s importance to you.

    There are plenty of plenty of places in rural areas that look like the set of Midsomer Murders and sitting in a village pub at midday with a pint and a Ploughman’s Lunch is a very satisfying experience. This is probably the best map to use to get around as it folds up pretty small. You can buy it in America:


    The Northwest is just over 2 hours away from London and there’s a good bit to see there: Manchester and Liverpool. Scotland is the same distance again with plenty of places to visit. Wales and the West Country are a lot easier to get to. We have a good rail infrastructure here – not that cheap though, but there are some good deals on tickets. Make sure you ask the man in the ticket office for the cheapest way to make your journey. See this link:


    Bit of advice on hotels: stay in the cheaper chain ones. There won’t be that much difference in price from private ones but the standard is always better. You only want a shower and somewhere to lay your head for the night. It might be an idea if you use MacDonalds or BurgerKing or similar if you want something to eat when travelling. Cheaper and standard products. Restaurants can be expensive with vastly differing quality. Pub food isn’t bad though your meal have been prepared earlier and microwaved. Often best to stick to a sub sandwich. Britain has undergone an enormous catering renaissance in the last decade but it’s traditional dishes are always the best.

    Pubs: Most are dedicated to serving young blokes fizzy lager and nothing else but there are also still many older type pubs where you can try more traditional cask ales. Be warned, they don’t taste anything like American beer. Some are pretty strong too and remember – a British pint is a quarter more than an American one if you’re going to drink a lot.. Ask any older bloke where you can find a more traditional pub. On that point, I hope you’re not defeated by our accents. Some of them are very thick and you may find them impenetrable.

    Lastly, don’t pay any attention to the idea that Americans are deemed to be loud and boisterous and walk around whispering – it’s really just a hackneyed stereotype. I’ve met many American tourists and found them perfectly normal, ordinary people and no different to any other nationality when on holiday. I hope you enjoy your visit here and get to see all the places you want to see – you can always come back if you don’t! If you’re uncertain on anything, just put your question on here and somebody will answer it..

  100. avatarHelen_Pie says

    I am English and live near the Lake District (North). I’m finding these comments completely fascinating because although I understand the self-deprecating humour about Americans being too obviously American, I honestly wouldn’t notice by appearances alone.

    I think the segment on tipping is debatable even between British people. For me personally it depends entirely on the service received, but I generally like to tip hairdressers, waiters, taxi drivers, and take-away delivery people. I don’t usually tip in a pub if I’m only ordering drinks at the bar, because it’s generally quite expensive anyway, plus if it’s busy, the bar-person will already be taking the next order as they’re handing over your own change.

    I know a lot of the information provided here is very London-centric. The historic and cultural appeal is clear. In fact, my boyfriend and I have booked a weekend trip there in June, but even so, I will be behaving just as ‘touristy’ as any American visitor as this will only be my third time there.

    A lot of foreign tourists I have met on my own travels often mistake me for a Scot or Geordie (Newcastle resident), which I don’t find offensive, but it is quite hard to explain where you live to people who have little geographical knowledge of the UK and ask “…and how far away is that from London?” (About 5-6 hours on the train actually!) – This applies to any foreigner, not necessarily an American.

    I find Americans and Canadians in general to be very open and friendly people. Brits can be reserved at first but I notice that if An American accent is heard, it will usually be met with curiosity and genuine interest, so be prepared to be asked many of the same questions about where in the US you are from, how long are you here for, what do you think of England so far etc…

    I feel sorry for the people who’ve had bad experiences here because it’s true that there are ‘undesirables’ in every country who are quick to judge, as a Brit abroad there are always people who assume I am tight with money, will always moan, and hate the French. (None are true!)

    The weather – Very unpredictable. Don’t bother buying an umbrella, just let it rain on you, because either way you’re going to get wet. It’s very windy up North so you can waste money on a really nice umbrella that’ll only get destroyed.

    The food – Try everything.

    Best advice – Be open-minded, go off the beaten track, enjoy yourself.

    Hope this helps,
    Helen (Saving to visit NY & Vegas some day!)

  101. avatarSimon says

    I find the information very fascinating as many Americans feel the British do much of the same when visiting Orlando, Florida.

    I cannot recall the many times I have had a tourist walk into me as they were walking on the wrong side of the aisle. Also, many of the tourists insist upon stopping dead within their tracks to look at a map or some sort of note they have taken with them.

    Often many residents around the Disney area associate British tourists with large white rental vans or white rental cars.

    Lastly, the football jerseys as well as the floral print screams tourist. I have seen quite a few British tourists who are dressed in floral shirts and I am unsure if they were them because it is Florida and they had read online that this is our fashion; it most certainly is not.

    We have what we call “British Tourist Season” when waiters and waitresses dread having their job. I am unsure if many are unaware of the fact that waiters depend upon tips in order to make a living.

    Also, people who are visiting must realize there are people who live nearby Disney and do not need to cater to your every whim.

    Why do many British people stand within a long queue when there is a much shorter queue? Standing in a very long queue when there is a much shorter queue only a few steps further marks you as a tourist.

    No, we do not serve mayonnaise on our hamburgers at McDonalds.

    The British tourists are thought as being loud, rude, and careless of their surroundings; of course not all.

    Lastly, I have seen my fair share of British tourists wearing bum packs, the 1990’s called and they want it back. I do not know why tourists like the idea of making a pick-pocketer have an easier life.

    I only point out these observations as they are quite similar to the stereotypical American tourist, funny. Each country comes across as a tourist when visiting a location they are not familiar with. Oddly enough, many American children are required to learn the many continents and countries of our globe and many do know the United Kingdom comprises of more than just England and understand London is a city, not a country. I have met wonderful British tourists who are curious about the culture whereas I have also met the complete opposite side of the spectrum. I cannot label all British tourists as this as some do not fit the genre at all. :)

      • avatarJohnnie Raff says

        posted in the wrong place. Doh! But it was in reply to someone saying – ‘Don’t just go to London (agree) try one of the shires’.

    • avatarJohnnie Raff says

      The most realistic post here yet. I’m English and when I go on holiday abroad with my wife I would much rather go where the majority of other tourists are ABB (anything but British). Your archetypal ‘Brit abroad’ is as boorish and embarrassing to their country as your counterparts are to yours. It’s natural to feel this way. after all, why go on holiday at all if it’s not to experience something different in your life. That’s what it’s all about; switching off from the norm. It’s what makes you relax. Being from London and having worked and travelled all over the States, I would have to say in our defence that Orlando is a honeypot for British tourists and the worst of our kind are bound to stand out. London is a large, multicultural, multilingual, tolerant global city where pretty much anything goes so be yourselves. You’ll fit in. It’s what makes London what it is.

  102. avatarRobert says

    I don’t know where you got the idea about the ‘No tipping culture’…!! As a London cabbie we regularly recieve and welcome tips from all nationalities (Oriental people being the most generous). Also in restaurants – Though the habit is no where near as prevalent as it in your country.
    To not tip a cab driver is to consigned yourselves as a talking point in cafes up and down London, recalling the ‘tight Yank c***s’.

  103. avatarTeresa says

    All this makes me want to do is forget about going to England. Shelling out tons of cash for what would (for me) be a once-in-a-lifetime event, only to get judged and hooted at, really doesn’t sound like a fun time. God forbid I say “vacation” instead of “holiday”! What, do you get a one-way ticket to the Tower for that? So I’m over 40 and have prescription orthotics in my shoes. I pretty much have to wear Nikes, or forget about doing all that walking. But no–you get thrown out of the country if they see you wearing them! You know what? I don’t go to other countries to judge the residents on how they talk and dress. I’m more interested in finding out about them as people. But apparently Brits are not interested in people who don’t dress and speak the way they do. (By the way…are these rules posted at Customs? Seems to me you should let follks know they’re about to get their hands slapped for wearing the wrong shoes when they first get to your country, rather than letting them find out the hard way.)
    It’s a shame…you might actually enjoy getting to know people from other countries if you can ever get past the superficial judgements.

    • avatarMander says

      Teresa, don’t let this stuff put you off. I’ve lived in England for about 7 years now, and although I live up north I have visited London many times. I am pretty confident that the only people who would harass you about your shoes and vocabulary are not worth associating with anyway. And they are not representative of the British. Sadly jerks are an international phenomenon, I’m afraid. As others have pointed out there are plenty of loudmouthed and rude Brits, with shockingly poor dress sense. But most people I have met are friendly and polite, even in London! 😉

      The main reason, in my opinion, to avoid looking and acting like an obvious tourist is to avoid unwanted attention from pickpockets and the like. Hence stepping to the side of the street to consult your map, figuring out which tube stations to change at before you get on the train, and so on is not really about inconveniencing the natives but about appearing confident and aware of your surroundings. This advice applies to any big city, be it London, Chicago, Rome, etc.

    • avatarTessa Coker says

      It works both ways, Teresa. I a English, living in California and I have had to change the way I pronounce certain words in order to be understood. In England we get a lot more exposure to American English via TV and films – movies. Yes I have also had to adopt American words instead of the English in order to be understood. The English tend to recognise American versions better. I have to have subtitles on TV to follow, really, and my American husband appreciates subbies on English films and programmes. As yet I refuse the change the way I spell or my grammar (despite the red squiggly line under various words). I am proud to be British and want to hang on to my speech and spelling as much as I can. By the way, why do Americans use so many euphemisms? Why can’t you call a spade a spade? I go to the lavatory and I wipe my bottom with loo paper. (I avoid the Restroom unless I want a nap and bathroom tissue is a mystery to me.) :-)

  104. avatar says

    Also, NEVER let someone from a restaurant call you a cab. We ate at an Indian restaurant in London only a few blocks from our hotel. Since it was absolutely POURING when we were ready to leave, the waiter asked if we wanted him to call us a cab. We said yes. A plan ordinary van with a Russian sounding driver turned up. He had no idea where he was going, even though it was only a few blocks and then charged us £17!! Evidently they are in cahoots with the restaurant and split the fee.

    Also, stay away from Indian restaurants. They will totally oversell you on food. We had that happen twice. There was so much left over, we could have fed India for a week! They advertise dinner at £10, but by the time you get out of there, you’ve spent close to £25 per person. They are total rip-offs!

  105. avatarChris says

    “Remember, we fought a whole war over our independence, and the Brits are still a little sore about losing.”

    We actually don’t care about the American Revolution. We’re literally not at all bothered. It does irritate us when Americans assume that it was such a big deal and that we’re still upset about it. It’s a big part of American history, but a miniscule part of British history.

    • avatar says

      I’m American. I’ve never for a moment thought that the British were irritated over the flipping Revolution. I’ve never heard another American say they thought it mattered to the British. This is a point that is blatantly manufactured for the sake of a blog column.

  106. avatarChris says

    “We Caused the Econopocalypse”

    Also, while the US does get some mud thrown at them over the global economic crisis, I’ve noticed that Gordon Brown is a far more popular target over here.

  107. avatarBob says

    Note to gay men – leave your ugly flip flops in the USA. Shoes and trainers are fine in most bars and pubs. Flip flops are not!

  108. avatarTim says

    Most Britons are actually happy to judge others on their merits, not their nationalities, just as Americans and others generally do. Come with an open-mind and others will treat you the same way.

    The best way to fit in and be welcomed is to not be a wanker (douche-bag, in American). Simple.

    Oh, and don’t think that ‘British’ and ‘English’ are inter-changeable – Britain is England, Scotland and Wales – nobody here appreciates that ignorance.

  109. avatarTessa Coker says

    Oh yes you do tip cabbies – always. In restaurants check if service is included first. Hairdressers are tipped, too and maybe luxuries like spa treatments.
    Everyone should read “Watching the English”. It is the funniest thing I have ever read and even funnier as a homesick Brit living in America. Spot-on.

  110. avatarCharley says

    The big thing to understand is this. We are an incredibly multicultural society and the vast majority of us will willingly embrace people of all races and cultures without a problem but at the same time most of us hate everyone and everything in a non-specific way. If you can understand this you’re well on your way to understanding the entirety of of the british culture.

    Also do tip (although only generally in restaurents) we may have slightly higher wages in service industries but cost of living is higher. Check your bill because a lot of place do add a service charge or gratuity but not all and most brits will tip 10-12% (higher for very good service but generally not much more than about 15%) for cabs and other services like that it’s reasonably common to say something like ‘keep the change’ or ‘just give us back X’ (for eample a taxi journey costing £9 if paying with a £20 note you may ask to just recieve £10 change) this is as much about avoiding havng to carry around large amounts of shrapnel (otherwise known as low value loose change) as rewarding good service.

  111. avatarLancashire hotpot says

    I think all the mixed info on here will just confuse the Americans they will spend all their time walking round scratching there heads wondering if they are doing right or wrong lol so now we should start telling them about all the different terms in different towns for food & things like that, I’ll start with barm cake, muffin, bap, barm Joe, tea cake, bun. This will really confuse them lol

  112. avatarGrace says

    Are there really Americans traveling around out there and talking about the revolutionary war? Seriously? I can’t even imagine a situation where that would come up in conversation. Unless the conversation started out with ‘So, what are the first few chapters of your history books about?’ Unfortunately, it is true that most Americans wont be very familiar with the war part of that revolution and how desperately we were losing it until help from other countries came along and a few crazy mountain men who decided to hunt the English from the bushes rather than go to war with them. The history texts read a bit more like romanticized period dramas about Paul Revere and salty Earl Grey.

    As a side note, can I make a formal request that we in America adopt a more quiet and reserved demeanor? I live here, and everyone is so loud it’s painful and everybody insists on watching television (and of course it must be watched at ear-bleeding decibels). Even just sitting in my living room with my own mother (sorry mom) I have to resist the urge to beg her to take it down a notch. And I’ve never even traveled outside this country, that’s how loud we are, we violate nature itself. I’m so thrilled there are other poeple (albeit oceans away) who share this opinion. Yes! I’m not crazy… well at least not for thinking this anyway.

  113. avatarDenise says

    EASY: DON’T BE LOUD. Don’t stand in the way of a busy walkway…anywhere. Get out of the way on the tube to let people get in & OUT. Stand on the right on the escalators. No gym shoes. Don’t wear bright colors. Be friendly but not in your face. Learn the word differences before you go. (You ask for the toilets or loo not the bathroom). No tipping for drinks in the pub. Smile. No complaining. Every once in a while you will run into a crab butte. Ignore it & move on. They are here too. If you take a day trip, listen to the tour guide!!! Don’t talk to the people around you, & if the guide & driver are good TIP THEM at the end of the trip. Be polite & courteous & respectful.
    After all ….It is their country & we are MERELY GUESTS!

  114. avatarKristen says

    I am an Anglophile. The tipping thing confuses me, because in two British comedies I remember bellhops receiving tips, and expecting them (Mr. Bean on Holiday). I’m confused now. Would someone kindly explain?

  115. avatarGreta says

    Just wanted to show that not all Americans are idiots, though my husband could tell you that I do spend a considerable amount of time complaining about the dumb lazy Americans who travel to non English speaking countries and don’t even bother to learn the language, and then have the audacity to complain about people from other countries who do the same thing when they come here. But I’m getting off-topic. Here’s what I mainly wanted to say:

    Though I am American, I do know the difference between British and English, thank you very much. I don’t use the word “Brit”, though I might say “a British person” if I am referring to someone from that wonderful island in a general way. I am perfectly well away that Scotland and Wales are not part of England. And, though no one has commented on this yet, it is none the less something that bothers me, I know that there is a huge difference between an English accent and an Australian accent. Though I’m ashamed to admit that I have a much harder time distinguishing between an American accent and a Canadian one. Perhaps because I live in the South, it all sounds northern to me! My point though, is that I spend a lot of time reading about other countries and cultures and am fasinated by it all. I don’t like it when British people(speaking generically here) change their vocabulary when talking to me. I know what trousers are, so you don’t have to call them pants. I could list dozens of other examples.

    However, getting back to the fact that I like to complain about the idiot Americans of the world, I am well aware that many of my fellow countrymen find British speech(speaking generically again) completely incomprehensible. I find these people annoying, and so if someone from England feels he must change his speech for my benefit, I feel that he’s lumping me into that category, and I get offended. But then I got offended when I went to Germany and people spoke English to me, so maybe I’m just strange.

    Funny what a total hypocrit I am though. If I ever went to England, I feel an overwhelming need to blend in, and yes that includes changing my vocabulary too. So I guess I am a little strange. Oh well, that’s what makes the world interesting!

  116. avataresevdali says

    The list doesn’t work as well in the 21st century as it would have, say, 25 years ago, when I, a New Englander, happily attended a convent (girls parochial) school in the British Midlands, the only Yank out of 250 girls. I live in Washington DC now, where, come summer, there’s never a shortage of boisterous British teenagers and 20-somethings in athletic shoes standing in the middle of sidwalks peering at maps. The younger generation in the British Isles seems to be getting louder and more materialistic to me, while Americans traveling in the UK have become lower key and more savvy than they once were. A new, IPOD clutching and more cosmopolitan generation of travelers is crossing the pond both ways without a second thought, with everything from hostels to canal boat rentals booked in advance. Also, since you find far more Americans living and working in the UK than you did, and more Brits in the US, at least in the economically lackluster 80s, there’s a lot more cross polination on many levels. Cultures that began to diverge in the 17th C seem to be moving closer together in an increasingly globalized world. My teenage nephew, who runs around in a Manchester United jerseys in East Coast cities in the US, reports that ordinary Americans can be surprisingly well informed about the team’s fortunes. Social hint: If you enjoy home improvement/DIY projects,gardening, owning a dog or are interested in state/public school reform issues, you’ll never run out of British people to have long chats with. If you want to talk about WWII, perhaps best to ask what somebody’s grandad did than express an opinion about American invovlement….

  117. avatarCharlie says

    Yeah, I guess the grim reaper in “The Meaning of Life” got it down in one sentence: “All you Americans ever do is talk…” And thats another thing us yanks do too much, bring up Monty Python way too much. Am I allowed to say “God save the Queen” as I sign off here? IF so….

  118. avatarjill_alden says

    Your advice is so true!!!!! I have been to London twice and Can Not wait to go back!! I loved every minute there and it is amazing how much the Brits and Americans are so much alike!!!! Although you would never hear any of them say so. I loved the British humor best of all!!!!

  119. avatarmelaina d says

    Well…. I’m a very outgoing, talkative, friendly and often-smiling american gal. after spending a ton of time in england for business and pleasure, I must say the men in general think I’m great….the women-not so much!! At first I tried to remain composed and serious, but soon I gave up and just smiled at everyone-no matter. We value cheerfulness and warmth in America and it takes strength to stay yourself among those who think you’re just silly :-) I often think of myself as a “smile” ambassador when I’m in the UK….lol

  120. avatarKyle says

    The writer of this (blog?) has taken much liberty with his generalization of American tourists. He seems to describe American tourists the way he wants them to be viewed by others. As one who travels to England annually (at least), I have never been received poorly, and hope I never run into this fellow; I may shatter his view of American tourists. As a side nots, although I do not wear them myself, I have seen many people in England, young and old, wearing both shorts and sneakers.

  121. avatarCheryl says

    Thank you to everyone who spoke up to set the misinformation in the OP straight. The tipping thing made my head spin when I was in the UK several years ago. I was advised to avoid shorts and trainers, and I did for the first few weeks, but as it was summer and rather hot and I was doing a lot of walking, I finally gave up trying to wear the ‘right’ things and opted for comfort instead. I never got dirty looks for what I was wearing, only when I unintentionally acted like an Obnoxious American.

    Speaking of Obnoxious Americans, I was in the UK for study abroad and wanted the ground to open up and swallow me alive more than once because of how other Americans acted: LOUDLY singing outside a pub around ten in the evening, being loud in general, dressing like skanks to go out at night, getting completely wasted on a regular basis, dismissing pretty much everything they were told about British etiquette and quirks,…the only reason I didn’t chew them out and/or beat them down was I knew it wouldn’t make any difference. When I was talking to my parents when I got back, I was commenting on Obnoxious Americans and the attitude those people have about how America is the Best Evah and that things should be done in England like they are in America, and my father voiced his agreement with the latter sentiment. *facepalm*

  122. avatarCharlotte says

    I have been to England seven times, beginning in 1989, when my husband and I spent a month there. I bought a 3 mile to the inch atlas, and I rented an automatic mid-sized car. I knew pretty much where I wanted to go, since I had “taken a trip to England each January in my armchair” for YEARS!!!! When we left here, the only reservations we had were at a hotel in London for the last four nights!!!! We landed at Heathrow, picked up our car, and headed for Windsor Castle!!! I meant to stay in Guildford, but when we got there, it was “rush hour” so we kept on driving east along the A25. We stopped at a Harvesters and had a LOVELY meal, then headed south towards Brighton. We stopped at a couple of pubs along the way to ask about a local B&B. Neither my husband or either one of the other couple who was with us would go inside, so I did. I went inside each of them, and told them we had just arrived that morning at 7 AM, and hadn’t had any sleep for 12 hours!!!! The first place we went to was closed and there wasn’t anyone there. I don’t know if the people at the pub deliberately sent us on a “wild goose chase” or not. I prefer to think not. The next pub several miles down the road, the proprieter wanted 45 pounds a night for each room. We ended up driving all the way to Brighton, and when we got there to the seafront, we turned left, and then turned left again at the first one-way street going north. That street was full of B&Bs, so we found one that was 25 pounds a night. We continued onto to Rye, by way of Burwash and Kipling’s house, to Royal Tunbridege Wells, Scotney Castle Garden, etc. to Dover. Our friends left us a Dover because they had booked a 5 day trip to Paris. Then we went back across West Kent and Sussex to Bath, stopping at Petworth along the way. We went to a part of the Cotswolds, spending the night at a B&B in Burford that was built before Columbus discovered America, before going to Belnheim Palace the next day, and heading north to York. I won’t go into the rest of our trip, but we had a FABULOUS time, and spent an average of less than 24 pounds a night on B&Bs. The only “snarky” person in our ENTIRE month there was a tour guide at Petworth, who looked down his nose at me when I told him the places we’d been the last few days. He had the attitude that “One COULDN’T appreciate what one had seen in THAT short a time!!!!” Of course, he didn’t know that I have a university degree in history, and had been studying England and English history for YEARS, and my husband had a Ph D in American history with an area in British Empire History!!!!

    We met a couple on top of a turret at Bodiam Castle in East Sussex, from Chicago, and they told us they were staying at a self-catering cottage nearby, and it was FAR cheaper than staying at B&Bs, not to mention having more privacy!!!!

    So, I bought a Self-catering cottage book that was put out by the ETB (I think) and from then on, we rented cottages. I told Jim we could visit London again when he was too old to drive there!!!! Unfortunately, he died of cancer TOO YOUNG in 2001.

    We went to England in 1992, and stayed in a cottage for a week in Sandhurst, Kent, and then in a cottage in Burford, Oxfordshire, because we had fallen in love with Kent and E. Sussex, and the Cotswolds. We took our daughter, Amanda, who was a university graduate with us to England in 1994, where we showed her everything we thought she should see outside of London, because going to London is EASY, but renting a car and travelling around the country-side is less easy!!!! That was the first time we rented Valerie Ernst’s cottage in Tenterden, Kent. When we went to the “Caxton” the last night we were there, the landlord, upon hearing Jim’s accent when he ordered our beers, told him, “Your money isn’t any good in my pub!!!!” That was because he grew up during WW II near an American air base, and he told us the Americans gave him and his friends bubble gum and candy bars!!!!

    We went to England again in 1996, and spent a week in Valerie’s cottage in Tenterden, then we spent a week in Devizes, which was WONDERFUL because it seemed like everytime we went somewhere along the A303 from east to west, we saw Stonehenge appearing off to the right just over the crest of a hill!!!!!

    After Jim was diagnosed with cancer, and we were told he was in remission, we took our son with us, who was in the US Navy when were there in 1996, sitting off the coast of Liberia in the LSD, USS Portland, with 300 Marines onboard. We spent two weeks in Tenterden, where Amanda and her new husband joined us the second week. Amanda’s husband had never been to England, so he was confused bu the differences in terms, etc, even thoush he is a VERY intelligent lawyer, and he was THRILLED that every little village had a C of E church because he is an Episcopalian!!!! But, he was confused by the sign at Canterbury Cathedral that had the “times for confession!!!!” Then Jay, Jim, and I spent the next week at our favorite cottage just off the High Street in Burford, Oxfordshire.

    I went to England in 2002 and spent a month in Valerie’s cottage in Tenterden on the High Street. I was in Rye on July 4, and at the C of E church there, an organist played a song for me in honor of the day, but he didn’t know “My Old Kentucky Home” which I requested because I have lived in Kentucky for many years.

    In 2006, I took a lovely young woman with me who teaches elemtary school in Nashville, and was the daughter of a VERY DEAR FRIEND!!! She had never been to England. We had a GREAT TIME!!!! She drove the automatic transmission car I I had rented, and we spent two weeks in Tenterden in Valerie’s cottage on the High Street We were at the “Caxton” late one afternoon, and a VERY young man went to the bar, and upon hearing our accents as we were talking to each other, came over to us and asked us if we were Americans. When we replied, “Yes” he said, “I want to thank you for saving us during WW II.” I was GOBSMACKED!!!!!

    My husband, my children, my son-in-law, my friend Lynn, and I ALWAYS acted when we were in England as if we were guests, so one is courteous and thoughtful to one’s hosts!!!! Of course, we NEVER discussed politics, and NEVER critized!!!! The FEW people we mentioned to that my husband wrote a book about Kentucky and the War of 1812 didn’t EVEN KNOW the British burned the White House, and a lot of Washington D.C., and that the British were DEFEATED where Wellington’s brother-in-law,who was the commander of the British forces, Packenham, was killed and his body was taken back to England in a barrel of rum after the Battle of New Orleans!!!!!!

    There are a few other treasured memories I have of our trips to England. Jim and I were walking down the street in Lacock village, that is owned by the National Trust in 1992, and a lady came us to us, hearing our American accent. She told us that when she was growing up, there was an American base during WW II nearby, and she had “lots of fun going to dances there.” One day on the High Street in Tenterden in 1996, I was going shopping wearing a Liz Calirborne jacket and pants, and unfortunately, on the back of the jacket was “USA” because that’s the year the olympics was held in Atlanta, and ALL the collection that year for the Spring was red, white, and blue, so I had “grit my teeth” and bought the knitted matching pieces I needed to take to England . A LOVELY white-haired lady accosted me as I was waiting to cross the High Street, and she said, “I LOVE your outfit!!!!!” Jim and I figured during WW II she MUST have known some American GIs, and even though she’d rather runnaked along the High Street than to speak to a fellow-Brit who was a stranger, she KNEW we Americans speak to PERFECT STRANGERS!!!!!

    Maybe people are MORE welcoming when there are two women, I don’t know, but in Cranbrook, Kent, at a pub, a man who owned an antique store on the High Street bought single-malt Scotch whisky for Lynn and me, after we told him we had NEVER had single-malt whisky, and then showed us around his antique shop!!!! And, a bartenderat a bar close to the Brighton Pavilion gave us a strawberry flavored Belgian beer that was FANTASTIC!!!!

  123. avatarJoel says

    Number 1 should have been ‘ignore this list’. I’m not trying to be funny here, but being English, this list looks ridiculous, and is guaranteed to make you stand out as an ‘idiot American’, or worse get you a smack in the head in a pub! In fact, I find it a pretty patronising and insulting list, more likely based on watching too many Hugh Grant films, or those strange stereotypes the US has of us, which to people in this country are bizarre mostly.

    In case anyone is wondering…

    We wear shorts in England. People in our countries have no problem showing legs… for proof go to any pub on a Saturday night where there are young ladies around.

    We wear trainers too. In fact they’re more common than shoes in most places.

    Of course it rains here. It does in the US too. That’s how plants survive. It is not a tropical rain forest however.

    Complain all you like, but bear in mind one thing… WE complain because we live here, and get annoyed with how things are done, just like yourselves no doubt in the US. We just take exception to foreigners visiting our country and pointing out what is wrong with it… the same as you would!

    Tipping: What would you think if someone didn’t tip you for service in the US? The same goes here. It’s rude not to tip, unless the service is bad. And so you know, restaurant workers are paid terribly, especially waiting staff. We do not get good wages.

    Linguistically similar to Southern US speech? Are you serious? I really cannot understand this point at all.

    The friendly bloke in the pub actually DOES want to know your opinion. And he wants it to be the same as his. This is the done thing when grumbling.

    Trust me, nobody in Britain has anything against people from the States because of the war of independence… honestly nobody cares, and I’ll bet a massive number of young people here have never even heard of it. Of course assuming we do care about it and have some trouble forgiving you actually is an offensive stereotype.

    World War 2, the one point I really agree with on this list. You can by all means say ‘we saved you in WW2’. You may either get a gruff response or lose teeth depending on who you say it to. This one I will agree with, and the main reason is because the US was a neutral country, which didn’t actually want to help us (and public opinion was very against it), and only entered the war because they were attacked and then had war declared on them by Germany. We on the other hand were having the shit bombed out of us with no military support from the US. until 1942. Remember we went to war with Germany in 1939. Just a little useful history there. We also hate your war films which rewrite history, making out that the US did things we actually did (such as U-571, the Great Escape, etc).

    The NHS is pretty badly run, and it is not something we are in love with. Don’t confuse us with politicians. They love it. By all means voice your opinions on it, because we know it’s a corrupt system. Oh, and it is socialist (British Parliament since it’s institution was built upon moderate socialist principles).

    Oh and this thing about ordering fancy drinks…. no we don’t find it offensive. We find it funny.

    What you have to realise is that a lot of British banter is based on sarcasm and the national sport of ‘Taking the Piss’. You’ll simply have to grow to understand this for yourself. I’ll post some genuinely helpful points next.

    • avatarSus says

      Please don’t speak for me when you give your opinions about the NHS. I do not hate it or think it corrupt. I have lived abroad and experienced the alternative, and I still say that the NHS is something to be very, very proud of.

      • avatarSus says

        Oh yes, my son got an ear infection in the US on holiday – it cost $400! Over here it would be about £7 for the prescription.
        I’ve also just read some eye-opening blogs from Americans on just the same situation, and now feel even more in love with our system!

  124. avatarJoel says

    Ok here’s some genuine tips from an Englishman, which should help you, based on things I’ve seen American visitors say and do. For some reason Anglophiles have a romanticised view of England, so we should quash some of the stereotypes:

    1. We don’t hate you. A lot of Brits have a problem with the US, but not people from the US. It’s not personal, but based on the culture we’ve had enforced on us from America, such as our new race relations problems, TV, language, money-loving, etc, which has all crept in since WW2. And don’t forget, the USA has a pretty domineering and selfish foreign policy. We know it’s not your fault, and we (usually) like American people, and everyone else for that matter.

    2. This is actually linked to the above, and has come about due to the internet forms built by US companies: THERE IS NO SUCH COUNTRY AS THE UNITED KINGDOM (UK).
    There are four countries here: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Great Britain is the large landmass of England, Scotland and Wales. The United Kingdom is the realm covering Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and has a shared parliamentary system. The British Isles is the whole collection of islands. Sadly, British people are now buying into this stuff and think their country is the UK.

    3. Things are expensive here, especially commodities like petrol. As I type this the current price is 10 USD per gallon (unleaded that is, the cheapest fuel). Be prepared for the prices, and yes, we hate the rip-off too.

    4. Don’t try to act British or act as if you are an expert on being British or the country you are in. Because we know you’re not. And it makes you look stupid. And when we’re seemingly being nice about it, we are in fact taking the piss. Taking the piss is a national hobby.

    5. We take the piss out of everything including ourselves. It’s one of the strongest things about the British character. It’s how we get through so much. We learn to laugh at them, and it helps us bond and relax about things. Sadly this is being lost as we become more like the US culturally. But it is inherently British (hence why it is the same in Australia).

    6. Although you don’t want to fake any of the British accents here (and there are many), try to learn the correct pronunciations of things. Otherwise it gets confusing. This is particularly true for places and names. For example, the US pronunciation of Edinburgh would be ‘Ed-in-burg’. Here it is ‘Ed-in-burruh’. Nobody uses the word ‘po-tar-to’ for potato however. No idea where that joke came from, but just so you know.

    7. Learn British slang, but make sure you definitely know it’s meaning. And try to only use the common words when you speak. If we hear an American say he was ‘just going up the apples’, it would make you look stupid. Even in England, rhyming slang is rarely used in normal speech, and even when it is, unless you are in, or from, East London, it just sounds sad.

    8. Never call anything ‘quaint’.

    9. Never start comparing our tourist attractions/countryside/buildings and so forth to those back at home in public. It’s just rude, and if we wanted to see what big houses in Texas look like or the Grand Canyon, we’d go there or ask.

    10. Be careful using the word ‘fanny’ to describe your arse (which incidentally you call ‘ass’, but to us this is a donkey).

    11. Generally, we don’t care for US sports. Baseball is basically rounders to us. American Football is like a strange version of rugby with men wearing armour for some reason we are not sure about. Basketball is more popular, but it’s still only netball with bouncing 😉

    12. From point 11, learn when people are being sarcastic. It’s done in a subtle way.

    13. Certain places are not named after the places they are in, but after people. I’m sure most will obviously look up things before travelling, but I have had these discussions with US friends before. For example, Buckingham Palace is in London, not Buckingham. It was owned by the Duke of Buckingham. Leeds Castle is nowhere near Leeds, it is in Kent.

    14. We don’t use kilometres. This stereotype has to go once and for all. In the pub, drinks are in pints, halves, glasses, etc. I have seem someone once ask for a half-litre. He was laughed out.

    15. Yes, it does sometimes annoy us that the bad guys in films are usually English.

    16. Most are aware of this already, but not all of our police are unarmed. Some do carry firearms at certain places, and armed response officers are in all towns and cities.

    17. Roundabouts are pretty easy to navigate to be honest. Mini-roundabouts are a waste of time however, so don’t go to lengths to drive around them.

    18. You will be in Britain, not in mainland Europe. Remember this distinction because it does tick some people off.

    19. Chandler bing in ‘Friends’ described England as a ‘romantic’ country. Chandler Bing is lying to you.

    20. British stiff upper lip: Do not believe it. This only exists when things are really wrong or shocking, such as terrorist bombings. Most of the time, we’re just like you.

  125. avatarCharlotte says

    SOME Americans go to England to see what we’ve been reading about and seeing on TV and movies all our lives!!!!! We go there, not to praise the US, but to LOVE England!!!! We are in awe of the country from whence our forebears came!!!! We go to England to “worship at the altar” of Shakespeare, Austen, Churchill, to see the fantastic stately homes and gardens, and to see the FABULOUS countryside and villages!!!!!

    Your “new race relations problems” can’t be blamed on the US this time because you did it all by yourselves!!!! I remember a lovely English woman I met at Broadlands in 1989, and she told me she was “afraid” to go to London anymore “because of the blacks!!!!”

    The vast majority of people I have met in my seven visits to England are really, really nice courteous people, and I LOVE the English people!!!! I only met two people who acted “superior” or were rude amongst ALL the people I met!!!!

    Linguistically, the English language as pronounced by “the upper classes” IS most like the Southern accent of “upper class Southerners” so GET OVER YOUR PREJUDICE AGAINST WHITE SOUTHERNERS!!!!!! You OBVIOUSLY have NEVER been to the South!!!!

    We NEVER mentioned the American Revolution, but whenever we seldom DID mention the War of 1812, we found the English AMAZINGLY ignorant!!!! But then, to the Engish, that was a “minor” war when compared to the Napoleonic Wars, even though Washington and the White House were burned by British troops!!!! My husband, who was a historian, wrote a book about the War of 1812, and I had an ancestor who fought at the Battle of New Orleans. If you want to find out about that battle, go to utube and access Johnny Horton’s song that’s entitled The Battle of New Orleans. It turned out the battle was fought AFTER the peace treaty was signed, but if Wellington’s brother-in-law, who was killed in the battle, had defeated the Americans at New Orleans, the British would had said, “Never mind the treaty, we’re going to take over as much of the US as we can!!!!!”

    An interesting side note to this is that Wellington refused the command because he said the US couldn’t be defeated.

  126. avatarCharlotte says

    I CAN’T BELIEVE IT!!!!! They ACTUALLY released a version in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland of Johnny Horton’s song “The Battle Of New Orleans” where instead of the Americans winning the battle, the British won the battle!!!!!! On utube it says the British government FORBADE them to release the US version, but that is untrue!!!! It was changed because the producers thought the British buying public wouldn’t buy a song that celebrated a US victory over them in 1815!!!!!

    Talk about GREED!!!!!

    I guess I SHOULDN’T be surprised!!!!!

  127. avatar says

    I’d like to thank the British folks still responding to this blog as I’m leaving for London on May 4. My first trip to Europe and a dream come true to me. I knew a lot of those er, tips, had to be wrong.

    I plan to act just like myself while in London; an acerbic, funny, respectful and compassion person. I wear shorts, athletic shoes (needed as I’m going on a large amount of walking tours and two bicycle tours), jeans and boots. I don’t mind rain (in fact, I like it). I lived in Seattle and Portland for going on 14 years before I moved back to California.

    I will ask something though. I’m a little bit freaked out by some blog and news stories I’ve read about how some (note I said *some*) of your compatriots have an aversion to overweight people, even violently so. There was that horrible one about the middle-aged woman brutally attacked on the train in 2009, I think it was. Now, I am a round person but I’m pretty athletic and don’t take up two seats on trains or whatever that attacker’s beef was when she went off. There are millions of people in London, all shapes and sizes, but I have to admit I feel a little bit self-conscious. I don’t want to be looking over my shoulder. This might seem superficial to some but it isn’t to me. I’m talking about personal safety here, not shouted insults.

    Any thoughts/reflections on this?

    Can’t wait until my feet touch down on English soil and I can say, “London, I am in you!” Thanks.

    • avatarMartin says

      Tonya – you have no reason to worry. Unprovoked attacks on strangers in the UK are, thankfully, very rare – it’s just that they make the headlines. To put it into context, I have just returned from a fantastic holiday in the US, but I was not put off going there by the media reports of the number of gun-related deaths that happen there!

  128. avatarVanessa says

    So funny

    We love Americans Really. Do tipp in London especially, Shorts are worn nationwide matybe not though
    On a high street in London.(it’s abit different and posher there)

    We are quite quiet in our opinion unlike our image of you who like to be very vocal….?? I couldn’t say
    Hey your trip this year looks great . There are some great paces to see here. I wish you a happy trip. All I would say is if I was choosing (and I live here) God its very difficult but the Highlands of Scotland are breathtaking ( and I have travelled the world) xxx

  129. avatarTonya says

    Thank you Martin and Vanessa, very kind of you. I hope to see more of England in the future, as well as Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

  130. avatarAonghus Van Raalte says

    I dont have i problem with americans generally. But there are numerous things that really annoy that some American’s do.

    1. as you said saying ‘we saved your ass in the war’ utter bollocks. the Americans were working with us and if anything did less than us.
    2. Americans think that we have bad teeth and have bad breath. we just dont get fake teeth like americans and our breath doesn’t smell bad (well most of us).
    3. Americans think we are like in Mary Poppins. we dont all ware theses fancy clothes, just drink tea, float on umbrellas.
    4. The accent. American people mostly see people from London. So they havn’t seen some accents like a scouse accent or a geordie accent. we dont all have ‘cute’ accents.
    5. In restaurants i have had many bad experiences with Americans. They have been loud, rude and dont seem to understand that we dont want to know what they think about certain things.
    6. They think that everything the Americans do is perfect and everyone else needs to change.

    Ultimately i know that not all Americans think this of the British, but i have come across a lot that do.

    • avatarKate says

      American here ~ Love the UK and the people… enjoyed their style, kindness and history. Waiting for the day when I can return.

  131. avatarKit says

    War of Independence? We’re sore about that? Bollocks. Many people in Britain probably haven’t even heard of it.

    Here’s a big one. Don’t call it “England” unless you really mean England. Its a tricky one, and you can’t win, but as a Scotsman I hate it when people refer to the whole of the UK as England. England is only part of it. The biggest part, but still just part. Don’t take that to mean that everyone in Scotland hates England either (and no we’re not at war, despite what Braveheart might indicate). I’m British and Scottish. Some Scottish (or Welsh, Manx, Northern Irish etc) people will tell you they are not British. Don’t argue with them.

    Joel says that you should criticise the NHS, the article writer does not. I’m stuck in between. Most people in Britain love the NHS, even though we know it is not run perfectly. I’m less of an ardent fan…we don’t want the American system (pay up or die), but a little outside criticism might help people think about improving the system.

    Just my tuppence-worth

  132. avatarpeter says

    Please don’t ask an English man if he speaks English as I, a Londoner, was asked by Two Americans in Covent garden,
    For a good day out go to Brighton & visit the Royal Pavilion, & walk in the Lanes

  133. avatarCiel says

    Is it really inconvenient to ask for iced water? Is there an ice shortage in England?

    • avatarsues says

      no, of course it isn’t. You’ve got to bear in mind, there are so many contributions to this blog and so many opinions. If you want iced water, just ask.

  134. avatarJim Bowman says

    You only need 2 rules to not look and act like a dumb American.
    1. Use common courtesy.
    2. Use common sense.

    These rules work in every country and every situation. Plus, they’re easy to remember.

  135. avatarben saunders says

    hello i’m English, and can i just say… where the hell does this “typical English accent” idea of you Americans come from? newsflash only the royals talk like that. the real England speak more like you average film star with maybe a slight bit of cockney and posh hiding in there, only a bit. well i say! with that i think i might as jolly well rest my case if i say so myself… lol

  136. avatarJohn Kenny says

    I hate to break this to you, but nobody in Britain cares if you wear shorts or gym shoes.
    I’m English, and I wear shorts in the summer like a normal human being.

    As for tipping… WAAAAT? We don’t have giant obnoxious signs everywhere saying “YOU MUST TIP YOUR WAITER OR DIE IN HELL” but we DO tip. Tipping is polite and a very welcome “thank you” for good service. Its not compulsory, but its polite.

    Maybe YOU should do some research.

  137. avatarGale Witt says

    I just returned from a stay in England. I did not experience most of the remarks made in these posts. Local people in the UK are absolutely lovely. They go out of their way to help anyone that needs it. An American that travels to London or anywhere in the UK needs to remember that you are not at home so don’t act like it. Be polite. They are. Look people in the eyes and SMILE. If you are kind..they will be in return. Don’t be drunk and obnoxious at a local pub. The Brits know how to behave in public. Be daring..brave..try the local food. You can go to McDonalds when you get home. Don’t expect huge grocery stores. Everything is local, street by street like we use to be. The only large grocery store chain that I saw was TESCO and the locals are trying to keep it out of their neighborhoods. They support their neighborhood small stores. The food is excellent. Don’t complain. You aren’t special over there so don’t act like you deserve special treatment. They WILL be extremely pleasant to anyone that is pleasant to them.
    On tipping…if food is ordered from a wait staff person AT your table and then food is brought to you, then you tip. LOOK at your bill; it might already include a gratuity. The usual way of ordering food in a local pub is to get a menue, walk up to the bar and order what you want. They will bring it to your table. No tipping in this case unless you feel like it. Use your common sense. We had a delightful young man who was going to college during the day and worked at the local pub at night. We tipped him and he really appreciated it. The local working Brits never frowned at us or treated us like we were bothering them when we went up to order (unlike here in the US). Everyone was wonderful.
    They like to yell at each other out the car windows on local streets. Get over it. At least they don’t pull out a gun and do drive by shootings like the US. For them yelling must be a stress relief before work.
    No one is allowed to carry a gun unless you are a guard for the royal family, dignitaries, or other important jobs. If you are not a bobbie(police), you are not allowed a gun so don’t take yours with you.
    There is crime in England so be careful. Be mindful in tourist areas. Act like you would if you were traveling in the US except BE NICE.
    About the dress: plenty of people break out the shorts if it gets warm. They appreciate a sunny day more than we do because they don’t get many. It was warm and sunny the entire time we were there. People everywhere wore sneakers and shorts and short sleeves.
    Don’t think you can go over there with your pants around your knees. You won’t get far. Brits won’t put up with having to look at your underwear choice. You will get arrested.
    Wear suitable clothes that match your destination. That is a no brainer.
    The only people that everyone in the UK hates are the FRENCH so don’t worry about your visit. The Brits are wonderful people and you will enjoy your time there. Good Luck

    • avatar says

      We haven’t called the police ‘bobbies’ for a considerable time! Perhaps we did in a more gentle, less crime-ridden era.

  138. avatar says

    I’ve been to England several times and never got the impression that Brits didn’t like Americans. In fact, one of them liked me so much I brought him home with me and we got married.

    I can’t imagine that any American traveling to another country goes there because it’s just like the US. People travel to immerse themselves in a different culture and enjoy all the differences. And why on earth would an American eat at a Macs when they go to England? Perhaps you did on your first few visits and then realized the joys of eating in a pub or having a wonderful tea at a tea room.

    My travel advice is simple: enjoy the culture, enjoy the food, delight in the differences, and tip away. I think Brits who work as bartenders or waitstaff love when they’re serving Americans because we *do* tip.

    And go ahead and wear your Keds if that’s what’s comfortable for you. I’ve seen all shapes and forms of footwear and clothing, including shorts, on people in England (and they couldn’t possibly have all been American). As my husband said when I asked him if English people wear shorts: ‘Of course… why wouldn’t we?’


  139. avatarKaitlin says

    So basically be respectful of other people and their culture, don’t be insulting or feel entitled, and don’t talk on and on about politics. These are simple rules for being a descent human being, period.

  140. avatarBalyhoo_an_Englishman! says

    I am, as my name suggests, English. Okay, actually, quarter of my family is Welsh and Canadian too so, I am a ‘Brit’ as you Americans call it. I have to say only one thing. You Americans call us all ‘British’. I find this lazy. We are made up of more than just one country, like how you are made up of more than one state. This dates back to when English king Edward I (AKA The Hammer of Scots) found out that Scotland was kingless, he decided to save them a bother and take the throne, uniting our countries. This was even before civilised Americans existed and the great tribes of the Native Americans roamed (So this means that if you aren’t a white American, I’m sorry for what is going to happen a few centuries later). Long story short, Scots weren’t too happy, fought and won a few battles and William Wallace got hung drawn and quartered for killing thousands of innocent lives (That includes women, children even infant babies, sorry, this is true) and then we are united as the United Kingdom, land of the free and home of the tea (only joking, tea didn’t come until the next part of the story) So, a few centuries later, in America, the Pilgrims are going to some European country I forgot about and got kicked out. So they went for other means of ‘Holy Land’ and went to America. Than we had thanks giving and the killing of thousands of Natives and then we have America as it is today. Then, is the conquest of the British Empire, we ended up owning half the world. Think of that, one tiny island, conquering half of the world, something only the Romans had succeeded doing, until their thrashing from the Celts (English), Picts (Scots) and the Ghauls (German and French, I think) ( and also my and many other European’s ancestors). Anyway, we also had India, a fantastic place to get tea, sugar and rice! Then there was independence day, when the many Americans ruthlessly slaughtered us all! For that, I give you kudos. So, that was an extremely long lesson to all the Americans out there that are just so lazy and bone idle as to call us all ‘Brits’. Think about what we actually done for your country, before it even started, because of the Europeans coming to America and removing the Natives (Which is kind of sad because we did nothing to them in the first place) you wouldn’t have your warm, luxury land of auto-mobiles, fast food restaurants and proud (If not, too proud) nation. So just remember, next time you encounter a Scots, Welsh, Irish or Englishman, just remember what part we played all those years ago, okay? Good. Now onto a next topic (If you are still reading this, you must have an enormous attention span, keep reading, this will make you a better person) we don’t treat you badly for the things they put about the tips, stuffing your faces etc. it is the utter racism that comes out of your mouths that makes us not act nicely around you. The people that are nice to you haven’t had an experience in the past when they visited America and got laughed at or were trolled on the internet by a fascist American. Also, we invented the bloody language before you, so why do you talk such weird slang? Also, in Scotland (At least, where I live now) a racist would get an egg thrown at them, or worst, get punched in the mouth (and believe me, some people’s fists are like concrete). But that’s just racist people, many people anywhere in Britain (That includes me) are bound to hate you, but another reason is how big you are, and the fact that it is just a few hour plane ride away,
    you are a sort of ‘threat’ in some cases. Also, kudos again for putting this is, it might make people a little bit more respectful for their kin. And kudos fore making a website all about us! I finally feel respected. The ‘We saved your asses in the war’ one is quite amusing, many an American has said the exact same thing to me xD. But, it is kind of true, and for that, many thanks. But also, it is true, although Americans seem to copy/paste this many times, we did hold off Hitler far longer than you.

    So, in conclusion-this post is great! I hope more people read firstly this post, and then this comment for ungrateful people,

    -An anonymous man who knows about his culture

    • avatarBalyhoo_an_Englishman! says

      Also, sorry about that, I posted without reading through the comment and there is now a lot of grammar mistakes and such. Sorry!

  141. avatarmefromUK says

    I find it amazing how Americans know more about the 1940 to 1945 era in Europe than they know in the previous 12,500 years, or the most recent 65 years!! Ask who the chancellor of germany was in 1957 or the uk PM in 1958. nada.

    It was NOT the American who saved the UK and won ww2, it was the Soviets. Without their participation, that war would have lasted much longer. I also find it odd that the 20th century wars with Germany are called ww1 and ww2, but the wars with germany in the past 200 years had their own name, ww1 did have a name- the Great War to End All Wars. But how few know that?

    Essentially if you come over wearing a big american flag on your clothes you are a tourst and will have you purse lifted within 5 minutes of arrival.

    And the american revolutionary war was more about the colonist breaking the treaty of with the natives that NO colonists would settle west of the applichian water shed. They did and it was legally binding that England had to go to war to defend the natives from the colonist who were costing the treasury in the UK a fortune. Have a war, fight a few years, loose – oh my, and still get the same products from the colonies but after the Revlt. War – every thing had to be paid for – all subsidies ended. LIke having a few people on a space station, they are funded from their homelands and they do interesting insightful things but they are not producting goods and services that the everyday average or below average intelligence person would by on a daily or weekly basis. It was called cutting the aprin strings! and when it looked as if the confederation was going to slip back, there was the war of 1812, just to give a ‘social nudge’ to keep it status quo as it was financially viable for the UK side!

  142. avatarJo says

    As an English lass speaking to anyone visiting Britain:

    The best you can do is to just be polite, you don’t have to follow certain rules or such. After all, you are a tourist and people will understand that. If you are unsure of what drink to order, ask what beers the bartender reccommends, if you don’t like beer and prefer a rum & coke – nothing wrong with that either.

    As for not complaining about the weather – why not? its a good ice breaker to strangers lol

    Of course there are towns in the UK that are less friendly than others but usually the places with the most attractions tend to have many tourists or have friendly locals who im sure are more than happy to advise you on local places to visit.

    Also, with the language barrier, UK has many accents and dialects, some being broader than others. Especially in the north. (I myself was brought up in the North East) So if you cant work out what someone is saying, just say so :)
    also ‘Fanny’ means something else here teehee

    But the point is – come here and enjoy yourselves, you dont need to follow a list of rules. Just one: ‘Treat others how you expect to be treated’ I have only met one American in my time and would love to meet more visiting here.

    Also, if you are looking for charm and want to avoid the business of London, I strongly suggest York. Its a lovely little town full of history and traditional sweet shops.

  143. avatarEm says

    Hi I’m British and I found this really amusing. Okay for a start England may seem small but north and south really are very different! Okay southerns generally have less time for everyone, not just Americans, they and out services may seem ruder, worse than yours and you are probably right. London moves fast, isn’t tht friendly and service charges are on everything!!!! Bit somehow it still has it’s wonderful charm. However up north generally service charge is not added and tips are appreciated, however it rains more, the people are more small townies the futher up you go and it’s pretty boring. To be honest in my opinion America has a lot more to offer and only London is worth seeing :)

  144. avatarIrving Freely says

    An American should avoid telling the locals (and fellow United Statesmen) how much he detests boorish Americans. It marks the American as a faux sophisticate.

  145. avatarLudovica says

    As a lifelong Anglophile who frequently visits Britain, I do not recognize myself or the English in these tips and comments. Boorish people exist everywhere, as do respectful and understanding ones. Yes, there are a lot of overweight, loud, opinionated Americans, but I have also encountered the same among Brits and among people from all over the world in all kinds of locations. Maybe some of you Anglophiles are trying too hard to pass for British–it’s fun to be part of the in-group, but you needn’t establish your cred by trashing others. That said–everyone ought to learn how to be a respectful traveler.

  146. avatarSarah says

    Ha, you said fanny pack instead of bum bag. Other than that, this is pretty good… but really, England is surprisingly similar to America, probably more so than any other country I’ve been to. I feel like you’re acting like the two are completely different and Americans have to be especially cautious not to look stupid there. Yeah, not really…

  147. avatarJonI says

    Hmmm, some very keen observations there. However, on some points you are way off the mark (I’m English, I know).

    Don’t tip? Are you mad? You tip the taxi and hairdresser a quid, tops but you do indeed tip them. In restaurants, cafes. etc you tip 10%. This is only if you had table service, the service deserved it and the charge isn’t already included. Bellboys will expect tips in flash hotels but they’re not usually bellboys in british hotels- we’re not lazy.

    Of course we wear shorts. One break in the rainclouds and everyone jumps at the chance. You can’t say something is unBritish if you’re not British, I’m afraid. Wearing shorts is very British by the way.

    Most people in Britain own trainers and wear them before all other forms of footwear. You may have noticed that, seemingly you haven’t.

    The thing that makes Americans stand out is the lurid poloshirts, chino shorts, baseball caps and NB/Asics trainers that the whole family is wearing matching pairs of. Oh and the cringy use of the word ‘mate’- it sounds bizarre, creepy and sycophantic in an American accent, sorry!!

  148. avatarLisa says

    My biggest advice when going to England: don’t try to act English. Yes, observe and respect culture differences, but an American acting English just sounds silly. A few things my close English friends always point out:

    1) Like you said about sneakers, they make Americans stick out like a sore thumb. I like to wear them on planes, but I change into flats when I get there.
    2) Americans are really loud. Just bring down the volume.
    3) Avoid using English phrases like ‘bloke’, ‘mate’ or whatever because you sound like a fool. (Unless your friends, like mine, make you say them for their own amusement.)
    4) Also, the English are ENGLISH. Calling them Brits pisses them off. Of course, I call my (VERY VERY CLOSE) friends this to purposefully provoke them but in general, bad idea. Think of how annoying being called a “Yank” is. Especially if you’re from the South….
    5) They don’t serve water, you have to ask. Ice is even rarer. Just get a lager. 😛
    6) Mind your manners. It gets you far.
    7) Don’t fake an accent. You’ll sound like a fool. There are so many accents/variations that it’s mind blowing.
    8) Do find a friend to walk around with and ask what’s appropriate and not. Plus, having an in on the town you’re visiting is GREAT.
    9) In general, just see how people react to your behavior. They’ll look uncomfortable if you do something really offensive. I haven’t really offended anyone, but I’ve watched plenty of tittering Englishmen as a pair of loudmouth college chicks walk by hollering and yapping like they’re the only people on the tube or sidewalk
    10) Personal peeve: waiting in line behind people who haven’t reviewed English money. If you take a peek at the coins, you will have a much easier time of paying up quickly! A 50p coin is pretty big, for example. Easy to spot! Or, have your money ready.

    And of course, have fun. Visiting England really isn’t scary and I’ve found the people to be generally awesome. Treat people like people: politely and with respect. It gets you far.

    Awesome site btw!

  149. avatarPaul Willmott says

    Just found this site. As a Brit who has lived in Bermuda for 23 years, I’d like to add a few more don’ts

    1) Don’t eat with just a fork as a shovel. The fork should be in the left hand and the knife in the right.

    2) Don’t sit down and talk to the person next to you on the bus/tube and tell them that you’re on vacation and where you’re from – they don’t care!

    3) If you’re over 40 don’t wear your baseball cap or military service cap.

    4) Polo shirts and kakkis are office and/or US tourist wear and not normal casual wear. Wear jeans if you want to look casual – jeans do not have a manual-labour stigma in Europe like they do in the US, they are fashion clothes.

    5) Do not be surprised that religion is not part of everyone’s lives. Brits don’t do religion anymore apart from weddings and funerals (if that). Saying that you believe in god will mark you down as a weirdo.

  150. avatarLou says

    I just returned from a two-week stay near London. I traveled all over the city and never once felt out of place. Many Brits engaged me in polite conversation. I had a wonderful time and look forward to returning.

    • avatarChristopher Pickard says

      I was in England at the end of August. I didnt feel out of place at anytime and found the people to be friendly. If you are respectful and make an effort to fit in you wont have an issue. At one point we were out at a pub in London after spending the day at Dunsfold and my wife who is more outgoing than I struck up a conversation with someone and we were eventually invited in to their group of friends and had people to converse and drink with all night. Couldnt have asked for a better trip.

  151. avatartahrey says

    Whoa, dude … I was just browsing around at random here but I think I need to take the time to issue a few corrections from the horse’s mouth, as it were…

    1/ Shorts. Shorts are fine. Just be sure that it is actually going to be good weather before putting them on, and that you’re fine looking like an obvious tourist if you plan to go out dressed casually during working hours on a weekday.

    They are a bone of contention amongst some Brits, with one camp despising them, and another considering anyone who doesn’t switch to short trousers any time the temperature creeps above “frosty” to be wimps unworthy of citizenship, but really most people don’t care so long as your legs aren’t horrible. They’re particularly good if you’re out on a countryside walk as you don’t then get your trousers (or skirt) wet and muddy if things get a bit more hardcore.

    Don’t combine them with sandals and socks, though. People will think you’re taking the mickey.

    2/ Gym shoes, or as you might call them – “Sneakers”, and as we would call them – “Trainers”. These are everyday wear. Any Brit who exclusively wears patent leather dress-shoes all day, every day of the week is a bit odd to be honest.

    I wear black hush puppies to work, and white/blue Nike Air Force Ones at all other times.

    If you’re over here on a trip, there’s absolutely no reason you shouldn’t wear them. You’re going to be doing a lot of walking, and it won’t mark you out as a foreigner.

    3/ Fanny pack aka bum bag. Yeah, leave this one at home. It wasn’t even particularly stylish in the early 90s. Unless you actually wear it as part of a particular job nowadays folk’ll think you’re filming some kind of hidden-camera TV show.

    4/ Language barrier… all you need to do is learn to listen, and if you can’t understand someone, do what we do – politely interrupt, explain that you aren’t quite following, and to say it all again louder and more slowly. Feign a hearing problem if necessary. Not all UK accents are immediately intelligble to all UK residents, either :)

    And certainly, we’ll understand what YOU say without any practice on either side!

    5/ Driving on the left: This is a good tip. You wouldn’t believe the difficulty some Brits have in adapting the other way around, and that’s with the benefit of knowing that our system is weird and that we have to swap around when going to almost ANY other country.

    The best habit to get into, really, is just looking in BOTH directions before stepping out, and continuing to scan both ways as you cross. If something should hove up out of nowhere AND close the gap in the one second gap that you’re looking the other way, your chances of avoiding it would be slim regardless.

    And NOT “all” traffic comes from the right. We have a lot of one-way streets, particularly in towns and city centres. It could still come from the left. Usually, though, if this is the case, there will be a helpful reminder painted on the ashphalt.

    6/ Rain? Acclimatise to it by taking a week’s break in southern Florida before crossing the Atlantic. Unless you’re doing a motorcycle tour, you won’t complain about the British weather at any point.

    I have never, ever been so wet as when dashing back to the tour bus on a trip to the Everglades. Nothing I have ever experienced in my whole life to date matches up to that.

    7/ Complaining – yes. We are masters of self deprecation, but at the same time moaning about how crap everything is here is a right and a priveleged earned by being brought up here. Outsiders starting to complain about it all are in danger of a corrective beating.

    It might be crap, but it’s OUR crap.

    8/ Cabbies … OK, this is more of a London thing, than a Britain thing. It’s a large city to be sure, but unless you’re doing a _London_ trip rather than a _Britain_ trip (same way that we might go to “Italy” but really we’re just off to Rome, I suppose), Black Cabs are not all THAT common. They do exist in other cities, and they are a more exclusive sect with tighter regulations and the like, but they’re not ubiquitous like in the capital, and there’s no e.g. Birmingham, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Cardiff equivalent to “The Knowledge” that I know of. They might be more experienced and take more pride in their job, but they won’t have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the entire local area (only in the capital is it a tested requirement of getting your taxi license).

    Minicabs are fine, but you are advised to follow some simple safety guidelines. Ask the locals which company they’d prefer to use. Call their office and pre-book (that way there’s a record, you’re insured, and you’re assured of a ride at a particular time). If possible, let someone else know your expected itinery who can check up if you don’t arrive. Check the price on getting in, and that both you and they have half an idea of where you’re going. Most of them use satellite navigation units now anyway, so it’s not as bad as it used to be, but occasionally you’ll still have to give a bit of guidance to a driver with a lacking sense of direction who hasn’t entirely figured out the technology.

    9/ Tipping… is optional, but appreciated and generally encouraged for taxis and restaurants – as well as bars where it seems warranted. I’ve never known anyone to turn it down, and it cheers up these folk who, just as elsewhere in the world, aren’t exactly on the top rungs of the employment ladder.

    10% of the bill, the change out of a suitably sized note, or “one for yourself” (bars only) are the usual going rates, but it’s not an exact science.

    Set service charges are only levied occasionally and in rather particular circumstances, e.g. if you’ve arranged a large booking in a buffet restaurant which therefore requires somewhat greater organisation than the more normal 99% self-service arrangement.

    10/ Never. Talk. Politics. In. A. Social. Situation.
    Unless, and only unless, you know your opposite number very well and know that the ensuing discussion will be both enjoyable, and from a standpoint of both decent knowledge and a defendable opinion.

    As a visitor, this is not going to happen. Find another topic. Do not, I repeat, do not be tempted to bang on about any political subject under any circumstances.

    For a start, we’re a lot less committed to the whole war in the middle east, unswerving defence of israel, etc schtick, and it would be very easy to cause offence. Or a fight.

    11/ Stuff your face… well, you do have options. First, go to a buffet restaurant (all-you-can-eat), where we too like to get utterly bloated. Second, try a pub lunch, fish n chips, or a popular-looking chinese or indian takeaway; pub portions are usually generous (unless you have a truly Texan, two-seats-on-the-plane appetite), and it’s not uncommon to actually get two dinners out of a takeaway (I think the refrigerated chinese takeout breakfast is a global phenomenon now?), or to have to abandon the end of a wrapper of chips. Third, just lay in some side dishes. We rarely do it, unless it’s to e.g. share a bowl of onion rings, but the option is still there on the menu.

    Really, if you find yourself still hungry after having a meal out in the UK, you either need to see a therapeutic dietician, or go to a less pretentious restaurant. Even Wagamama’s japanese place looks after you quite well.

    (Fourth – top it up with beer, unless for some reason you’re driving)

    12/ Hahaha yes, try the “don’t you know who I am” routine and prepare to have your ass ruthlessly taken down several pegs 😀

    Just be calm, considerate, and… well… human, and everyone will be just fine.

    13/ Oh, no you di’nt.
    We appreciate the help, don’t misunderstand us on that front. It’s entirely likely we would have lost without backup. But no-one likes having their nose rubbed in it, and you couldn’t have cared less until Pearl Harbour was bombed AND Hitler came out in support of the attack.

    Anyone old enough to -truly- care about events of 70-ish years ago will be deeply offended. The others won’t care -as- much, but will still think you a dickhead at best.

    14/ The core idea here, really, is “there’s not much space to spare in this country – please, try not to get in the way”.

    People obliviously causing unneccessary obstruction is quite high on the list of pet peeves of your average Brit. If you haven’t got somewhere to be, what are you doing out on the main road, clogging it all up?

    15/ Weeeeeeellllllll we’re probably more bothered about the whole Iraqistan, Extraordinary Rendition, War on Terror, Guantananmo Bay situation, and we saw enough other trouble coming about as the result of serial misbehaviour along similar lines in Iceland, Ireland, Spain, Greece, etc, which the slightly better off countries in the EU (ourselves, France, Germany etc) are still bailing out.

    But there’s probably a dim, lingering memory of the Subprime fiasco and how it kickstarted the whole chain of dominos. Try to have just a tiny shred of humility and don’t mention the affair (or anything about financial matters at all really, especially anything along the lines of how expensive fuel has become (ours is 2x the price or worse – have you noticed how the streets are full of boil-washed, 70+ mile-per-gallon 3-cylinder diesels?), or how you’re so poor and struggling to get by (you’re on a transatlantic holiday, which for many people is a once or twice in a lifetime thing)… it’ll definitely offend…) and you’ll likely squeak by without anyone actually thinking about it.

    My own advice?

    Get a map. Of the country and especially the places you’re going to go, but definitely the whole place. Study it a little, see how there’s different towns, regions etc, and realise that because of how the country developed before and during the industrial revolution, each county is very nearly analogous to a US state, in terms of identity, cultural differences, rivalry, and even perceived travel time/distance (400 miles to Edinburgh? Once a year, no more. Such a long way!). Not for any particular reason, just so you don’t come across as obviously ignorant if the discussion turns that way. And so that you’re pre-informed that, for example, Scotland isn’t in London, Edinburgh isn’t half an hour away from Cardiff by bus, and so forth… the endlessly repeated cliched “American in Britain” mistakes.

    Check up on what the pronunciations of any town or street names are, too. It’s a lot easier in the internet age. Thinking that Leicester Square is pronounced “Lie-cess-terr” is SO 20th century. Done right you might actually have better geographical diction than we do (it’s not uncommon for a “foreigner” from another county to say things all wrong either, but there are at least some commonly known things e.g. the major cities or particularly famous major streets and landmarks).

    Be aware that anywhere not connected with either a blue or a thick green line on the roadmap might take a surprisingly long time to get to, and anywhere that doesn’t have a red or at least yellow one going to it is a whole-day trip.

    Bring voltage and socket adaptors. Like, seriously. A few items will survive running on 220v, like laptop and phone chargers, but any other 110v electrical item will be fried. Check they’re OK for 50Hz, too; most will be, but a random few won’t.

    Note that our tap (faucet) water is safe to drink, but you might want to go half-and-half for a few days in case the different mineral and additive (chlorine and/or fluorine in some areas) upsets you at first.

    Check up a UKUS dictionary just for any funny words that might cause unexpected hilarity or confusion (lift, bum, coriander…)

    Other than that… take it easy and everything will be OK.

  152. avatarCrystal says

    Awesome read, even though i didn’t even get to the half way point… love how everyone is so easily offended. PLEASE. get your head out of your ass. Life is too short to worry about stupid things. Yes, we have drive through EVERYTHING, yes, some Americans are not so bright, some are genius.

    I live in Florida, planning to go to UK soon.. and to be honest, you cant offend me. people have nothing better to do with their lives, except to be offended by something or someone. something so simple as a sign on the road, “men working” pissed some ladies off, and called it sexist. and now they are trying to take it to court, wasting tax payers dollars. cant wait to go to England, Ireland, Italy, etc.. And guess what, im going to drink beer, and let people laugh at my accent, and not worry about it. Does that blow your mind!?

    my friend, will be going with me, who has lived there before, so she is informing me of all the cool things that England has to offer, what to say, what not to say, etc… I just look forward to the beer. pubs. food, culture, train rides, (never been on a train).. OH and the “bad guys” in the films, that are usually English, are HOT. Dont be pissy that its the english guy that has to be the bad guy…. we like!

    Lighten up, travel, life is good! Oh, and taste as many different beers as possible…
    Excited to learn about another culture- happy travels!

    • avatarEve says

      just ONE tiny annoying thing,

      If the people of the UK have one pet peeve about Americans is the fact they call Britain ‘ England’. in the same way it annoys you if we thought you were Canadian or vice versa
      You are not going to England you are going to the UK or Britain. as the UK is made up from 4 counties if you continue to say England all the time it is going to piss people off.

      PS no-one is going to laugh at your accent, we have tens of thousands of American living and working here everyone has met more than one* so we are used to the way you talk…….plus we get a huge amount of US television so you are not a novelty.

      * more than 10 if you live in London.

      • avatarEve says

        PS this was not directed at you in particular I was to post at the end of the page but post a reply to you instead ?????

  153. avatarKellyn says

    Honestly as someone who is British (Staffordshire, England) born and bred I can assure you no one in Britain gives a crap about the American War of Independence, only you Americans are still talking about it. However, as a Brit and an Historian I find it extremely annoying when Americans assume without them we all would have been speaking German and making Nazi salutes at each other. After all the Americans joined WW2 in 1941, while the rest of the world was at war in 1939 and making negotiations with Hitler long before that point.

    • avatarLorielle Marsh says

      I know your reply is by now nearly a year and a half old. But did you not notice the dozen or so comments before yours expressing the exact same “extreme annoyance”? Don’t get me wrong. I don’t blame you for your irritation at crass people. But why not give us some new advice we haven’t seen paraphrased a dozen different ways? (Those of us who care enough to have made it this far through the comments probably aren’t the rude people about whom you speak anyway.)

  154. avatarAdrian James says

    Hi All, we all know that the majority of the American community came from Britain. It still amuses me that they don’t wish to acknowedge

  155. avatarRalf from Australia says

    Another couple of hints to consider.

    1. When in a restaurant Please do not call out, Waiter! or Say, Miss! or snap you fingers at staff. You will probably end up with someone spitting in your soup.

    2. Never ever try to pretend that you are English or attempt a British accent. You end up sounding like pirates.(just think Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins- truly forgettable)

    3. Please stop blurting out, Öh My God!!” at every unusual sight or activity. Especially when done repeatedly.It is a dead giveaway.

  156. avatarSam says

    Hi, im a Brit, Yeh it does rain and the country is pretty boring, but the whole ‘complaining is a national past time’ thing is not true, in fact we think that of Americans, but are also probably wrong. The people of the US and the UK are identical, except for the accent. Also lot’s of people ware shorts here, just not in the winter.

  157. avatarJonathan says

    I know this is slightly off topic but I’m trying to prepare to go to the UK for the first time.

    I am looking to travel to the UK for vacation/holiday ina few months and was wondering if there is any benefit to me getting a Travelers Visa BEFORe flying to the UK. my understanding is that you can get a visitors/tourist visa at the airport once landed. So, I’m just wondering what benefit (if any) is there to getting the Visa beforehand. If I get it beforehand then can I travel lighter (not need to bring extra documents showing finances, etc.) can I get through the border agent and customs line faster? anyhow, I’m just trying to see if it would be worth it to go through the process.

    I am born, raised and only lived in the USA, have a USA passport (valid for 5 more years I think)

    • avatar says

      Hi Jonathan –

      Americans don’t need to get an actual paper tourist visa if they’re traveling to the UK for tourism (I actually don’t think it’s possible to even get one). You just show up at the airport and they stamp your passport, Americans can stay for up to 6 months (though if you go for that long, be prepared for an inquisition at the airport from UK Immigration).

  158. avatarGreg says


    I found this website quite by accident and have read the above advice.

    As a proud Englishman who was born and raised in london I felt i would add a few things for you ladys and gentleman

    1. Its perfectly ok to wear shorts in the UK, just dont wear sandles or sandles with socks, or any shorts in hawaiian style or flowers on etc

    2 Yes the fact is me Brits like to complain about mostly everything, and no dought share some the gripes you do, However please dont come here and start complaining about our country in front of any of us as that may not go down to well

    3 We do not hold any grudges over the war of independance, We got even with that in 1812 when we burnt down the white house, so no hard feelings there.

    4 Bum bags or as you call them, Fanny packs, if you walk down any road in Britain wearing this item you will be laughed at intently, Do not wear this item, Its not cool.

    5, As the advice says we do not have a tipping culture however in regards to black cab drivers, It is a nice thing to tip the driver, he will thank you for it, Our cabbies will look after you so please look after them (Always use the black cabs and do not use private/mini cabs, The black cabs maybe a little more expensive than the mini cabs but their is a good reason for that, If you use a minicab you risk being riped off or worse) and our black cabbies are highly trained tradesman.

    6 It is ok to talk about politics to a point depending on who your talking to and if you share a similiar view, But never insult the NHS and Never and i mean Never insult her majesty the queen or the royal family, we get pretty upset by this, I would not come to America and complain about your country as that is simply just not cricket

    7. There is nothing wrong with wearing a smart pair of trainers (Gym Shoes) providing your wearing a pair of jeans or track suit bottoms or shorts etc, we all will at some point or another, the reason why you will see mostly shoes in london is because 99% of the people you will see will likely be at work that day.

    8. For the record you did not save us in WW2, you helped us out this is true and together we crushed the germans, but what you dont know is that we helped you in the far east keep the japanese at bay in the same way, we helped each other, thats why we such good friends today,

    9.. The weather here changes alot, be prepared for this, it could be sunny 1 minute and rain the next, carry an umbrella just in case and you will be fine, Also here you can buy small umbrellas that fit in to your bag nicely so you dont have to walk down the road carrying an umbrella in the sunshine

    Enjoy your stay here and have fun

  159. avatarJohn Robinson says

    I am British and I like Americans.

    And I don’t think they are more ignorant than the British. Or more xenophobic.

    I lived in Brazil for four years and was consistently asked by British friends if I was learning to dance salsa and ‘if my Spanish was getting good.’ I was also asked by an American at Cancun airport if my Brazilian friends had ‘told me all about Mexico.’ Equal in ignorance I’d say.

    I’d say that beyond attitudes to a right to bear arms the Brits and the Americans are pretty similar – though perhaps we Brits talk more quietly and are less gung-ho (and as a corollary often implicitly shyer and cover it up with being overly cynical).

  160. avatarEmma says

    I am from the UK – we do wear shorts when it’s warm enough and we do tip, it’s polite.

  161. avatarHutch says

    Don’t do this….don’t do that….Americans are horrible…..thanks for the heads up. I think I’ll just go to Mexico instead.

  162. avatarkenny says

    er.we do wear shorts in the summer.Where you got the notion we don’t escapes me.You get a hot sunny day here and people make the most of it.Plus,Brits who have just come back from their annual fortnight’s holiday in Ibiza/Tenerife/Benidorm/Majorca etc etc want to show of their tan while it lasts
    As for tipping,you always tip a cabbie,and anywhere you eat out(except a takeaway)
    As for Gym shoes(trainers)everybody wears them,especially the young,just don’t wear those awful brilliant white tennis shoes that American tourists seem to like…only wear trainers that look lived in

    • avatarEric says

      I’m glad to have read this. The writer of this article makes it out to seem as if British people look and act like Batman’s butler.

  163. avatarEric says

    It’s one thing to be an Anglophile, it is quite another thing to trash your own country in the process. This guide comes across as an accusatory diatribe against all Americans who might make the huge “mistake” of holding onto any of our cultural ways and customs outside the country. Heaven forbid we leave a tip based on good service or have a pair of sneakers on because they’re comfortable. Not all Americans are “Ugly Americans” but this little write-up makes it out like any trashy person from the US might just accidently wander into the UK and start acting like a jerk (or “arse” as I’m sure you say).

    My wife and I are visiting the United Kingdom in a few weeks and while I’m excited to see things I’ve spent a lifetime looking at in books, I hope to act like myself and not feel ashamed to be from the United States. I hope I don’t embarrass the writer of this piece too much as he seems mortified to know any Americans.

  164. avatarEve says

    I am shocked at your no tipping Tip.
    I worked in a restaurant op Hampton court palace for years, and most american had this stupid idea that we didn’t need a tip. If I tried this in USA I would be lynched.
    Most serving staff are on MINIUM wage and yes we NEED tips.
    Please don’t spread this stupid rumour it really hacks off restaurant staff and remember we work hard, tip us accordingly

  165. avatarWardie says

    I am a Yorkshire lad, you got some things right, I would like to clarify a few things

    *It’s OK to talk politics, but I recommend studying about it first, also keep in mind most of us hate our current government, just as we hated Tony Blair’s government, if you want to insult that useless lump known as David Cameron and co. then go ahead, I guarantee to you most of us would agree

    *Most people here no longer really care about the American Revolution, it was like 250 years ago, but I would not mention it, for some it remains a touchy subject, besides Americans are our brethren anyway

    *Ah the whole “we saved your asses in world war 2” myth, of all the reasons why some of us hate Americans this incorrect myth tops the list, or is one of the top three reasons, you DID NOT save us, the RAF did! The RAF single-handedly defeated the Luftwaffe a WHOLE YEAR AND A HALF before USA entered the war, remember that.

    *Some people do tip here, out of courtesy

    *Aye, it DOES NOT RAIN ALL THE TIME! It rains more in Ireland than it does here!

    hope I helped, I recommend you visit Yorkshire, me Yorkshire motherland is very beautiful

    • avatar says

      ‘Most people here no longer really care about the American Revolution, it was like 250 years ago, but I would not mention it, for some it remains a touchy subject, besides Americans are our brethren anyway’

      No longer care about it ? Did anyone in the past two hundred years ? I guarantee that if you asked 100 uk citizens about it, maybe 1 of them might even be able to tell you what happened let alone be bothered about it. I dunno who you associate with who it would remain a touchy subject ?! It’s certainly not a UK that I am familiar with.

  166. avatarKathryn says

    When we went to the UK, during the first term of Prez Bush Junior we lied & said we were Canadian. Awful trick to play but we got tired of trying to reassure the Brits that we did NOT vote for Bush nor defend his policies. It was just to exhausting & we only had 6 drays to see the country. The ticket seller @ the Tower of London would have none of it & outed us as colonialists. She was hateful but we got through it. I am sure that we aren’t disliked there as much now, right? In any case, I would do it again to see Stonehenge & Bath as that was worth the odd welcome. And people move on, so I wouldn’t say no to another try. :)

  167. avatarDerpy says

    I’d give the advice to not assume that every single English person knows where everything is in London. I don’t live in London, so if you meet me there I’m as much a tourist as you are. My advice would be to ask a taxi driver cuz they know everything.

    Also, don’t just stay in London! Head down to Brighton or Hastings and get some fish and chips. An American friend of mine online went on a visit to England a little while ago and followed my advice; she said it was the best thing she’d ever tasted. XD It is and if you buy fish and chips from a seaside resort, you can get fish that’s only been caught that morning. Can’t get better than that!

  168. avatarScotty says

    I very sorry if this sounds rude, There is another thing that could be added t this list.
    It is not necessary to shout all the time, It is certainly a cultural thing but American normal speaking level is alot louder than ours. I think it has something to do with space, if you’re area is quite densly populated you tend to speake a little quieter. I like Americans but I can usally hear them coming. so can people who are streets away.

  169. avatarElizabeth says

    Just so you know, people do tip but only a small amount in Britain, and shorts are fine but only in summer on girls under the age of 30

  170. avatarMolly says

    Stereotype much? I’m quite familiar with much about Britian, have driven on the “wrong” side of the road and have always wanted to go there. After this article, not so much.

  171. avatarKatie says

    2 things: Number one, YES stand on the right on a tube escalator so that people can walk past you but everywhere else (stairs in train stations in particular) ALWAYS walk on the LEFT! Not right! It’s the same as our roads. It even usually has signs saying “no entry” to the right hand side of the stairs. Rookie mistake…

    Number two: DO tip generously! Nobody is insulted by giving receiving extra money for doing a good job in a rubbish job, and from my personal experience as working as a barmaid, it’s bloody annoying when Americans don’t tip well because we know you do at home and it makes you look cheap. Lots of Brits tip. Lots of Brits earn a lot of money in tips. Don’t be stingey.

    Just thought you could do with a hand…

    Sincerely, a very British person

  172. avatarJL says

    Do what you like, dress how you like, eat what you like. No-one really cares.

    However, heed this advice.

    Don’t wax lyrical about Ireland, especially the poor downtrodden oppressed patriots trampled by the English boot. Don’t pretend you’re ‘Irish’ because your great-great-great grandad Pat fled Ireland during the Famine, he may have been Irish, but you ain’t.

    And don’t, under any circumstances whatsoever, express an opinion about ‘Irish independence’ – you’ve probably got it all wrong. In fact, I’d go so far as to say you’ve DEFINITELY got it all wrong, especially if you’re from Boston. I’ve been to Boston…

    If you think no-one could be so crass, think again. I’ve heard all of the above from American tourists.

    Any of that will result in at best disapproving glares, and at worst a trip to A&E (the emergency room). Doing it in certain parts of Northern Ireland could see you getting dead.

    If there be any doubt, I’m (genuinely) Anglo-Irish, so allow that I might have a clue what I’m on about.

    Other than that. Enjoy your stay.

  173. avatar says

    All good advice in the article. Having had the great good luck to have been able to travel to London and much of Southern England in the last couple years, after a lifetime of wanting to go, I was thrilled with everything and everybody. My favorite Londoner was a very elderly woman who we’d asked for directions and replied enthusiastically, “Why, that’s just where I’m going. You just follow along with me.” With that, she lifted her mid-calf dress to up above her knees to display her aging legs and said, “I can’t get you there fast on these, but I can get you there all the same.”
    She was a London adventure all on her own!

  174. avatar says

    This article and the comments were depressing. I’m American and my ancestry goes back to England. Throughout my whole life, I have been led to believe that America’s true friends in the world are the Brits, that we are two cultures who are like two strong siblings. I was unaware that (supposedly) there is this underlying animosity and one-upsmanship. I naively thought we were brothers in this uncivilized world. I have loved all things British since I was a child, and I got to go see it first-hand a few years ago. When I run into tourists here in the states, I’m always interested in them, not judging them. I didn’t feel this animosity (that is voiced in this blog) when I was there, but maybe they just hid it well. Or maybe some people just like to antagonize. We even like your political characters. Man, guess I’ve been sheltered.

  175. avatar says

    “Portions are smaller in the UK. Deal with it.”

    THANK GOD. I can’t eat all the food they give me in American restaurants. And since many of my upcoming UK trip plans involve eating and drinking everything delicious that isn’t nailed down, all the walking should take care of it. :)

  176. avatarKatey Kansas says

    You know what? Any and all Brits can stick that list of yours just as we have to suffer any visitors from other countries who come to the States. We are visitors in your country and, therefore, guests and guests with money that helps your tourism industry so unless you want to provide me with free flights, food, lodging, transportation and admission to all of your sites, suck it up. We do.

    • avatarDibber says

      You see, it’s just that ‘suck it up’ attitude that makes Brits want to spit in your food. The tourism thing works both ways, and we provide a huge boost to areas that might otherwise struggle to survive in the 21st century. Try being polite and respectful (us Brits are taught this from birth and it is one of the things that makes us proud to be British.

  177. avatarKathy says

    Wow. The posts and comments were a big ol’ ball of negativity. I probably won’t remember everything that crossed my mind while I read through everything but can probably hit the major points.

    First of all, I LOVE England. Love love love. I would live there if I could. Y’all make it really difficult to do so.

    I try to go as often as I can. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that, whatever I do, however carefully I avoid shorts and trainers and use English vocabulary and yada yada yada eleventy million confusing and contradictory “rules”… I will likely still stand out as American. And that’s okay. I am American!

    That said, I’ve found a good compromise to shorts in Britain and Europe are the light cotton, capri-length cargo pants. I see them worn by locals whereever I go in the summer. I have four colors. Worn with comfortable trainers of course. You all may be walking a short distance; I will be walking all day long. I need comfortable shoes.

    There are certainly things that get under my skin about you all. Back in the Bush era, it got really tiresome to be lectured by every cabbie. I am not responsible for my country’s foreign policy, save for whom I vote for. I will echo some posters who said that they don’t expect visitors to our country to “act American” or feel personally responsible for their country’s politics. That’s just silly.

    People from the American south generally have lovely accents. Although some of them do sound like hicks. But I don’t. :)

    I will be in London in a couple of weeks, then on to Scotland. I will try to ignore your scathing stares of judgment on my clothing and accent.

  178. avatarEl says

    Do whatever you want. This article makes all of us in the UK sound like judgemental arseholes. We honestly don’t care, unless you’re really arrogant- that seems to be a national pet hate. That said, we probably will find something to take the piss out of you for whatever you do, but that’s just what we do to everyone. It’s a sign of affection.
    Nobody is still bitter about the war.
    Tipping is optional, but polite. It’s rare for service charge to be added automatically. You should do it. Taxi drivers and waiters/waitresses don’t tend to earn that much. It’s not a sign of unfriendliness if they don’t engage you in conversation- conversation is tiring and irksome for lots of Brits.
    If you want people to be more welcoming, try coming up north. London is a stressful place and people always seem to be in a rush. It makes us sad when people don’t appreciate us, too, or even recognise our accents as English! Yorkshire, Lancashire and the Lake District are beautiful places, and in my experience, Liverpool is a much nicer city than London. None of that whinging about how difficult it is to travel- if you can navigate the tube, you can manage anything!

  179. avatardisciplineandlove2013 says

    “The British do not have a Tipping culture. Never tip anyone. That means your cabbie, your waiter or bellhop. Unlike the US, Brits are paid a decent wage for their job and do not expect to be tipped.”

    Um – try that in a taxi, a restaurant that doesn’t have a service charge shown on the bill, (it has to be shown by law) or with the bellhop in your hotel and you’ll find yourself very unpopular! None of these people are paid a decent living wage (minimum UK wage, which is UK norm for these jobs is nowhere near enough to meet the cost of everyday living) and they rely on tips to get by. Therefore, contrary to advice given here, I would say that it is customary here in the UK to tip ALL of the those categories of people at a rate of csomething like 12 to 15% of the bill.

  180. avatarJulie Watters says

    My husband is American military and we’ve been in the United Kingdom for 14 months of a four year tour. I would like to say the people in large cities such as London, along with the village where we live, and the locals who work on our base are generally far more friendly than Americans who are here. Also, I see lots of my neighbors (we live in an East Anglia village) wear shorts when it’s warm and trainers (gym shoes) and I see them almost everywhere I go. Yesterday I enjoyed a day out at a theme park in Windsor, and all the staff were extremely friendly, complimentary of my Southern accent and curious how I’m finding England so far. Besides being so far away from friends and family in the states, I’m finding our time here to be quite lovely and I will miss the polite demeanors when we leave,

  181. avatarKirsty Natalie says

    I’m English and would happily welcome any Americans travelling here! Not all English people are annoyed by Americans, that’s just a stereotype. American TV is very popular here and I prefer to watch it more than English TV. Personally I think most of us Brits are negative and miserable people in general. I’d move to America tomorrow if it was that easy!!