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Tips On Traveling On The London Underground With Kids

Did you know that the London Underground is the oldest underground passenger railway in the world? Unfortunately the Victorians weren’t prancing around with enormous Bugaboos and schlepping small children across London.  Which means that it wasn’t built with the family traveller in mind.  However, London is an expensive city so if you want to make the most of it, you will need to get on the Tube. Here are my tips on doing this with young kids:

London Underground

Ticketing

  • I won’t bore you with the nitty gritty but essentially kids under 11 go free – hooray!  For kids aged 11-15 they can travel for free but will need to show an Oyster card. For more details on how you can get hold of one (including visitors from overseas) check out this link
  • If you are visiting from overseas, I highly recommend advance purchasing a Visitor Oyster card. There are often lengthy queues at the popular stations so to swan through with a prepaid Oyster card, especially when travelling with kids will save you a lot of time and frustration!  For more details on how to purchase one, click here.  Allow yourself at least 14 days in advance of your trip for London Transport to post it to you.
  • Travel off-peak i.e. after 9:30am for a cheaper ticket.

Packing

  • Treat a long tube journey as you would a flight. Pack books, sticker books, snacks and drinks. Lollipops are great for bribery and keeping kids quiet!

    Lollipop Bribery At Charing Cross Station

    Lollipop Bribery At Charing Cross Station

  • Grab a couple of tube maps at the station and show the kids your route and all the lovely colours of the underground. 
  • On a hot day (what, in London??) some of the older lines e.g. the Piccadilly don’t have aircon so the easiest way to dress your kids for comfort is in layers.

Planning

  • Unfortunately the Underground isn’t massively buggy/stroller friendly.  You might want to plan your route in advance to travel via the most ‘accessible’ stations.  Here is a ‘step free’ tube guide.
  • Whilst service level will of course vary, it’s always worth checking the status of the tube lines in advance to see if there are severe delays.
  • Avoid London rush hour where possible.  Typically this is 8.30-9.30am and 5.00-7.00pm in central London.
  • When I asked my dad (a longtime London Underground user/enthusiast) what his top tips would be he said ‘don’t take the kids’. I think he was joking but he then gave a more useful piece of advice which is where possible, keep it one adult to one small child.

    Grandpa Joe in for a noisy commute

    Grandpa Joe in for a noisy commute

On the Tube

  • Be careful to keep hold of wayward children on the platform.  Most of the platforms don’t have barriers to prevent you/your child from falling on to the track.
  • Wave to the tube as it pulls into the station.  London tube drivers love waving back to smiley kids!
  • Londoners like to avoid eye contact and appear unfriendly.  You might not find people eager to give up seats unless you ask so speak up.
  • Keep an eye on your valuables.  Don’t leave your wallet/phone etc in a changing bag dangling off your buggy, keep it on your person.

 

Happy Travels!  You might find these links useful….

Toilets on the London Underground

London Transport Journey Planner

1 comment

  1. Le Coin de Mel

    Great advice for people visiting London. I always send Oyster cards to family members and friends so that they can avoid the queues as they arrive. Travelling in London is overwhelming enough for visitors; it is so much better when you know what you are doing. Mel #MBPW

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