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Americans Handicapped to Travel

The U.S. does pretty much everything differently than the rest of the world. Why? Who knows… but as an American, this makes things a bit more difficult in order to travel outside of the U.S.

Below is a list I have compiled while traveling to other countries of things I’ve noticed that are different from what I am used to as an American as well as what I think of in order to help me in the situation. I hope this helps other American travelers on the road overseas. Let me know if you can think of anymore conversions (I tried to keep this list to purely numbers and conversions).


Most likely for: Gasoline / Petrol

The rest of the world uses: Liters

Specific Conversion: 10l=2.6gal

Think of: 2 liter soda bottles
Most all liquids in the US are sold in gallons, except for soda, which always comes in 2 liter bottles.



Most likely for: Distance

The rest of the world uses: Kilometers

Specific Conversion: 10K=6.2M

Think of: 5K races
Distance between cities and how far you drive your car is measures in miles, but running races are usually in kilometers. A 5K race is about 3 miles.

Dork Fact: Do you know the Fibonacci Sequence? I won’t nerd out right now, but if you know it, this can be use to convert kilometers to miles (and vice versa). The Fibonacci Sequence: 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, etc. (where each term is the sum of the two previous terms). Any number is “kilometers,” and the number before is the equivalent “miles.”


Miles Per Hour

Used for: Speed

The rest of the world uses: Kilometers per hour

Specific Conversion: 10KPH=6.2MPH

Think of: 100kph is about 60mph (which is about the average driving speed)



Most likely for: Height

The rest of the world uses: Meters

Specific Conversion: 1m=3.28ft

Think of: 1 meter is about 3 feet, so simply multiple by 3 to convert meters to feet (or divide if converting feet to meters)
For long distances, try to think of an American football field… 1 yard is almost exactly 1 meter… so if someone says “it’s about 200 meters down the street,” you’re going to walk a bout 2 football fields.



Most likely for: Length

The rest of the world uses: Centimeters

Specific Conversion: 10cm=3.94in

Think of: 1cm is about the size of your pinky nail



Most likely for: Weight

The rest of the world uses: Kilograms

Specific Conversion: 1kg=2.2lbs

Think of: Kilograms are almost half the weight of pounds



Used for: Time

The rest of the world uses: 24 hour clocks

Specific Conversion: +12

Think of: Any time after noon, subtract 12 to get the US time



Used for: Temperature

The rest of the world uses: Celsius

Specific Conversion: C°=(F°-32)(5/9)

Memorize these 3 temperatures:
0°C is freezing point (32°F)
20°C is room temperature (68°F)
40°C is disgusting (104°F)
If you can memorize those, then you can make a logical guess of everything in between



The rest of the world uses: “WC” or “Toilet”
“WC” stands for “Water Closet” which is most commonly used inEurope.  In Asia, “Toilet” is the most simple and, therefore, the most commonly used. I know that “toilet” sounds crass << “yo dude, where’s the toilet?” >> but it doesn’t sound rude at all everywhere else in the world (I promise). Whenever I use the word “restroom,” there is always confusion and I need to repeat it 3 times before I breakdown and just say “toilet”


The ONE advantage about being an American, perhaps, is that English is the mother tongue – EVERYWHERE in the world, really, English is the unofficial travel language… So, there’s that. I guess I can be thankful for at least that much.



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