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.