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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.


What the U.S. Uses: Most Likely For: The Rest of the World Uses: Specific Conversion:
[click link to convert]
Think Of:
Gasoline/ Petrol Liters 10l=2.6gal 2 liter soda bottles
Distance Kilometers 10K=6.2M A 5K race is about 3 miles
Miles per Hour Speed Kilometers per hour 10KPH=
100KPH is average driving speed which is about 60MPH
Feet Height/ Distance Meters 1m=3.28ft 1 meter is about 3 feet.
* 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.
Inch Measurement Centimeters 10cm=3.94in 1cm is about the size of your pinky nail
Pounds Weight Kilograms 1kg=2.2lbs Kilograms are almost half the weight of pounds.
AM/PM Time 24 Hour X Any time after noon, subtract 12
Fahrenheit Temperature Celsius C°=(F°-32)(5/9) 0°C is freezing and 20°C is room temperature
Bathroom X “WC” or “Toilet” “WC” stands for “Water Closet” which is most commonly used inEurope.  InAsia, “Toilet” is the most simple and, therefore, the most commonly used.
* Even though I thought asking for a “toilet” sounded a bit crude, it’s the only way to communicate.  If you ask for a “bathroom,” you will get a strange look – why would you want to take a bath in the middle of your meal in a public restaurant?.
120 volts On all electronics 240 volts There should be a tiny little button somewhere on your electronics to switch from 120V to 240V while traveling; be sure to do this or else it will fry!
“Locked” Cell Phone X Sim Card Cell Phones Every other country in the world uses a sim-card inside the cell phone which can be switched out depending on the country you’re currently in.
* An unlocked sim-card cell phone from any country can easily be turned into a local cell phone of any other country… EXCEPT for theU.S.!* When traveling, buy a cheap cell phone [make sure it is UNLOCKED! Maybe US$40] and each country you go to, buy a sim-card for that country [US$1-US$20, depending on the country]… This way, you’ll always have a local cell-phone-number [cheaper for calling] for just a few dollars!.
“American” Coffee to drink Coffee made from espresso beans The weakest cup of coffee in the world would be the best cup of coffee in the continentalU.S.
* While traveling abroad, I kept asking for “iced coffee made from espresso… not just cold coffee” and I kept getting REALLY strange looks and people telling me that they didn’t understand what I was saying… When in theU.S., I have to specify the difference between regular coffee and espresso-based coffee in order to get the strong taste… Overseas, there is no option – coffee is ONLY espresso-based and people don’t understand why there would be weaker coffee.  I love this!

*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.

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