You often hear of Americans traveling abroad and they look like the quintessential “tourists.” I try my best to blend in with the locals (my camera doesn’t really help) and realized these couple of tips may be helpful for other Americans traveling in England.
If you are traveling by train in England you will encounter many an escalator. Some seem to be endless. They are essential to getting to the depths of the earth where the Underground exists. When using them you will quickly learn the one piece of etiquette that keeps them efficient. Move to the right if you plan to stand… keep walking up if you plan to be on the left. Londoner’s will quickly ask you to move if you are standing on the left. Utilizing this little trick will give you a one up on other travelers navigating the depths.
2. Elevators are Lifts
If your luggage is too big to fit on the escalator or if you need a little help getting to places remember to look for the sign that says “Lift.” This is your ticket to ride what American’s would call an elevator.
4. Bathrooms are Toilets
If you can go your entire trip without “going” then you are not human. A some point nature will call and you will need a restroom or bathroom. Asking a British person “Where is the restroom?” may get you a strange look. They most likely call it the loo or toilet. Now, when you get in there you may notice there is no customary lever on the left. This is probably replaced with a set of buttons on the wall or above the toilet. You’ll notice that pushing the bigger of the two buttons will produce more water than just the small one. You can probably assume when to use each.
One of the reasons that Europe is great for traveling is their train system. It is efficient, cost effective and goes almost everywhere. Like in most big cities, millions of people use the train every Monday thru Friday to get to and from work. Be aware of this daily flow when you are booking tickets. There often tickets for Peak and Off Peak times. Booking your tickets for Off-Peak times will save you money and help ensure you will have a place to sit. Otherwise you may be left at the station because a train is too full.
6. Taxis in England
Taxis are common throughout the country and often feature the same style of car so they are easy to spot. Do note though, taxis still often do not accept credit cards and require you to pay in cash. Just make sure you ask before hopping in.
7. Wifi is Everywhere
The telecom companies in England have gotten smart over the last few years. Most businesses, public places and even homes are covered by a mesh of free wifi signals. It’s ideal for a traveler with a smartphone but no phone access. Create an account on one of the many hot-spots like The_Cloud or BT-Open. They offer fast and reliable wifi access and all you have to see is a little ad each time you connect back up.
If I can think of any more tips I’ll make a “Version II”. Let me know in the comments if you have any travel tips (or corrections) for England.