I never thought to myself that I was raised well by my parents until I saw the manners of some gremlins on the London Underground. Some people may believe just because they have a fancy suit and fancy clothes that they are above everyone and that they paid their fare so it’s first come first served. When travelling if you’re sitting down and see someone who’s pregnant, unable to stand or someone who is elderly give up your seat to them if you can stand up. Not only is it a sign of respect but it’s the right thing to do since these people need a seat more than you, regardless of who got to the seat first or who paid more. If you’re travelling on a train that is packed and you are allowing a child to take up a seat, put them on your lap, unless they’re older and have to have a seat as they cannot stand neither can they sit on their parents lap. I used to travel to college during rush hour, the joys of being pushed around for 20 minutes while having to have my face pressed against someone’s sweaty armpit while there were six kids sprawled out on seats. If you do unfortunately have to take the train during rush hour, especially going through stations such as Canary Wharf and London Bridge, make sure you allow people space to make their way off the train. Don’t worry, if you do step off the train you will be able to make it back on, it won’t leave without you. I recommend this since I’ve nearly been carried all the way to the escalators with people pushing and shoving with a stampede of people realising they’re late for work. When using the escalators the most important rule to remember is that if you’re standing on the escalator then you stand on the right so other members of the public wanting to walk up the escalators can do so on the left. The amount of times I’ve been stuck behind a group of people who didn’t realise people do want to make it to work on time and can’t use the excuse of “Someone was in front of me on the escalator” when they turn up to work late. A final note on this section of courtesy, if you do find yourself in a situation where you are pregnant or unable to stand and deserve a priority seat (which someone who isn’t is sitting in) just remind them that they are priority seats and they can refer to the sticker behind them showing this. I’ve gotten into the habit of doing this for other members of the public, such as asking someone why they couldn’t give up their seat for an elderly person in which they replied “I didn’t realise”, sure Jan, the person standing right in front of you with a walking stick that’s elderly is just standing up for fun. Another cute little reminder is smaller badges that pregnant people wear that say “Bump on Board” which is a small reminder that this person is pregnant, even though the public might not be able to see it.
Travelling on the London Underground during the summer is a literal nightmare, it’s hot and overcrowded, with lots of festivals and events happening all over London. Always carry water with you for any journey, no matter how small, since it’s surprising how quickly you can become overwhelmed and feel ill. When at a station you may hear the repetitive message or see the signs encouraging the public to get off at the next station if they feel unwell. This message isn’t just for show, if you feel unwell get off at the next station and find someplace to sit or a member of staff to help you. If you stay on your journey then you may end up fainting or being sick, something that would hold up your journey even longer. When using the London Underground make sure you have all of your valuables with you when leaving the train as well as making sure you have nothing in coat pockets or back pockets. Believe me when I say that it will be gone in seconds, people I know had gone a few stops and then realised they had been the victim of pickpocketing. Regardless, this seems to happen everywhere and especially through routes that go through Central London as they are a gold mine for valuables waiting to be stolen from unsuspecting tourists.
Buy an Oyster
An Oyster card is a plastic smart card that holds credit which can be used to make journeys on buses, the London Underground, trams and other rail services in London. It can be topped up by cash or credit/debit cards at over 270 stations around London as well as stations just outside of London. From here an Oyster card can then be topped up accordingly, if you’re only taking one journey on a bus then it would be easier to just put £1.50 on your Oyster (the standard rate for a bus journey). However, if you’re making a range of journeys throughout London over the course of a day it’d be worth investing into a specific travelcard such as one that covers Zones 1-4 in London. Planning your journey is essential to save time and hassle as well as saving a lot of money. Some journeys on the London Underground can be up to £5 when travelling from Zone 1 to 6 during peak hours, with an anytime travelcard being just over £18. By making just 4 journeys then you would already have your money back as well as having a travelcard that is available for 24 hours allowing unlimited journeys within that time.
As mentioned before rush hour on the London Underground is not something you’d want to be caught in. The main times during the week where rush hour occurs is from 6:30-9:30am and then between 4:00-7:00pm (Monday to Friday) - these times are also linked to a fare increase in which you would be charged a peak fare when travelling during this time. This is because these times are when people commute to work as well as commuting back from work. During these times Tubes do arrive more frequently with them coming every few minutes or in some cases every minute. I would recommend that if you do have a pram or have young children, try and travel outside of these hours since you’d have to wait for a lot of Tubes to pass before attempting to getting on. Some people even push their way on when there’s clearly no space, which might make a child feel trapped or scared since it can become very confined and hot.
Before travelling it’s advisable to plan your journey since the London Underground has many routes and stations, with it being very confusing to tourists and sometimes even for people living in London. By using an app such as Tube Map or using an internet search it’s so easy to find the route you’d need as well as finding out what train you’d need to get on. If you got on the train at London Bridge and wanted to use the Jubilee Line then there’s two destinations - Stratford and Willesden Green. These stations are in the complete other direction to each other, with stations either way of them, which can make it very confusing since it’s unlikely that you’re not travelling to that specific stop but stops between them. When coming down an escalator there should be a clear indication of what stations the Tube is stopping at. Additionally, it’s important to look up at the screen to see where the Tube is actually going. For example, if I wanted to travel from London Bridge to West Ham I would need to make sure that my train is going all the way to Stratford. If it was terminating at North Greenwich then this would be no use to me since I would then have to get off and wait for another Tube that goes to Stratford.
Whatever form of payment you have whether it be a ticket, Oyster card or a contactless card, make sure you have it ready when getting to the barriers to enter or exit a station. The one thing I hate the most is to have my Oyster ready to then be waiting behind someone who is fumbling with the numerous cards in their pocket looking for their Oyster. To make myself more prepared when getting off at my chosen stop I would look for my Oyster while travelling up on the escalator since by the time I’m at the top I would be ready to go. People in London aren’t as nice as me and in some cases they will push past you to get to the barrier (especially during that dreaded rush hour).
Getting a Seat
Since I regularly travel to Bond Street and Stratford to do some shopping I frequently see central carriages full of people since they’re not bothered to walk to either end of the platform. By spending a few minutes walking down the platform I usually find myself able to get a seat as well as in some cases having a carriage to myself. The one thing that does amuse me is seeing people run for the Tube like their life depends on it when everyone on the platform knows that there’s going to be another one in the next couple of minutes. This is even better since it’s more likely that this tube is going to be less crowded and it’ll be more likely that you’ll be able to get a seat.
Tips and tricks for what to do in London as well as travelling around it.