By Briana Seftel
Traveling to England? Here's what you need to know before you go!
Culture and Customs
The English are known for their dry humor, cunning wit, and unfailing politeness. The famous British stiff upper lip is more relaxed these days, but it’s still important to remember good manners while you’re there.
A custom found all over the country is afternoon tea. While not always done up with fancy cloth napkins and silverware, it’s very common to take a short afternoon break with a cup of PG Tips black tea with a splash of milk and a bit of sugar (also called a builder's tea).
England is obssessed with football - that's soccer, to Americans. Catching a Manchester United or Chelsea match is a thrilling experience and a sure way to get immersed in English culture!
Sunny with a chance of rain
Like most of the UK, the weather in England can change from sunny to cloudy in the blink of any eye. Even if you’re traveling in July, it’s advised to pack an umbrella. Similar to the East Coast of the United States, temperatures generally range from 70-90 in the summer months and 30-40 in the winter months.
It's all about the pound
England's currency is the British Pound. The British Pound is currently .32 cents above the US dollar, so take that trip to England while the rate is still low! Most establishments accept credit card, but be careful when taking out cash from an ATM as you may be charged a hefty fee. Check with your bank to see if they have a partnership with a bank in the UK to avoid added fees.
Tipping is generally 10-15% in restaurants, but check your bill as the gratuity (service charge) may already be added. People generally do not tip in pubs. When taking a black cab or taxi, it's polite to tip 10-15% of the fare.
Getting around England
Public transportation is very sophisticated in England, especially in London. If you’re sticking to cities on your trip, there is no need for a car. However, if you’re planning on traveling into the countryside like the Cotswolds or the Lake District, you’ll be able to see a lot more with own car. Remember the steering wheel is on the right side and everyone drives on the left side of the road.
Trains are another easy and quick way to get around in England. If you plan on using the train a lot, purchase a BritRail pass. This pass allows you for unlimited travel by train across all of England’s rail stops. If you have not been to England, read our Travel Editor's London travel tips.
An array of accents
The language spoken in England is...English. However, there are many slang words and phrases that some Americans may find hard to decifer (for example, “Gloucester” is pronounced gloss-ter). Different types of accents are also found across the country, whether it’s the Scouse accent in Liverpool or Cockney in London.
Not just fish and chips
While England is no culinary powerhouse like France or Italy, in recent years the restaurant scene has vastly improved from the stodgy pubs serving lukewarm meat pies. Especially in London, you will find a diverse and multicultural food scene from all corners of the world. Classic dishes like fish and chips and bangers and mash are still eaten everywhere in the country.
A pint, mate?
Drinking in England is practically a national sport. Pubs are the most popular establishments for a pint of beer in the cities and countryside and unlike the US, it is legal to drink on the street. The most common drinks are gin and tonic, beer and cider.
England has a very low rate of crime, but if you do find yourself in need of assistance dail 999, which will be able to send you the Police, Fire and Rescue, Ambulance, or Coastguard, depending on your need. You can also go to the American embassy at any point for help while abroad.
Stand on the right side of the escalator! In England, especially in London, people stand on the right side of the escalator and let those past on the left. Particularly in London's subway (known as the tube), commuters are far too impatient to wait for the escalator to make its way to the top or the bottom, and they need to be able to rush by you. You will certainly get a grunt or two if you're in their way, so be mindful!