Exploring NYC | 5 things that will confuse Brits when visiting New York City

Exploring NYC | 5 things that will confuse Brits when visiting New York City

If you are a British person planning on visiting New York City for the first time there are a few things you should know before your trip. These are the things that completely confused me when I first started visiting NYC. So here are my top 5 things that completely confused me when I first arrived in NYC.



New York City

 I love New York

I just want to say I LOVE New York City, it’s my home from home and I think the people are incredible! So no disrespect whatsoever in meant in this post. When I started visiting my Mum who lives there I had so many embarrassing moments because of these differences in language and customs. Having been several times now for some extended stays, I’m feeling less like a clueless tourist.

Language differences

One of the big things for me to get my head around was some of the language differences: and I don’t mean “tomato” or “oregano”, or even “aluminum” (we all know us Brits are right about those 😉 ). I’m talking about the big ones, the ones that leave you feeling a bit lost, confused and often a bit embarrassed.


So here’s five things you will most likely hear that will make no sense to you at first as a British person, and what they actually mean:

1. PocketBook

I still struggle with this one…I just don’t get it. Please if anyone can explain this to me? I would be super grateful. In the UK a pocket-book is a notebook that fits in your pocket. In the USA a pocket-book is a handbag. It has nothing to do with books or pockets, well unless it’s a pocket for your books, although that would be a book bag surely? Anyway, it’s a handbag so don’t get confused about books and pockets.

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2.  Public transport

Don’t ask for a return, they will just look at you like you’re a strange foreigner. Ask for a round trip instead (this one I can get on board with). Also in New York, you don’t stand in-line, you stand on-line.


3. Using the toilet

Don’t ask for the toilet ask for the bathroom or the restroom. It’s seen as a bit rude to talk about toilets. This one I find so funny. I’m not taking a bath, and I’m most definitely not having a little rest in there…

4. Takeaway

If you don’t eat all of your food they will wrap it up so you can take it home. This is my favorite one! If you ate in a restaurant in the UK and asked for your leftovers to be wrapped up and taken home they would think you were a bit strange. We just don’t do it. But we totally should! I mean if you have paid for it and there was too much to eat why not take it home?

New York City

5. Drinking

When you go out for drinks the bar staff keep your bank card. I got so confused when this first happened! I didn’t quite catch what the bartender asked me so being British, I smiled and nodded. Now, this has some pros and cons. Pros are you don’t have to keep queuing at the bar and paying. Cons are the drunker you get the less you care how much you are spending!

I know the last three aren’t specific to NYC they are pretty common all over the USA.

Final thoughts

I’d love to hear about your experiences of traveling and getting confused by these small differences in language and customs, so make sure to leave me a comment below.

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Planning a vacation to NYC? Check out my other city guides:

5 things to do in New York outside of Manhattan

How to spend 5 days in New York City

How to Spend a Weekend in New York City


5 things that will confuse Brits when visiting New York City


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  1. January 4, 2017 / 2:24 pm

    This is hilarious! The roundtrip one I knew about but I had no idea a pocket book is a handbag? So weird. I love this language and culture mishaps.

  2. Me
    January 4, 2017 / 5:17 pm

    Pocket book is an east coast word. I’m from the west coast and this confused me when I moved out east for uni. I don’t get it either! and I’m American 🙂

  3. January 6, 2017 / 12:52 pm

    This is interesting to me. The pocket book, at least in my experience in the Midwest, is only a word my grandmother would use. And she is indeed referring to a small women’s wallet that could fit into her large coat pocket, but she only occasionally actually carried in her pocket. Normal she put in her purse. It usually contained a checkbook and a small amount of cash, and a pen and paper for writing. My mother does the same practice, but she calls it her wallet.

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