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Tips For The Tube: Easier Travel In London On The Underground

Updated on September 12, 2013

Using The Tube Like A Local For Easier Travel In London

The London underground, or Tube, is one of London’s best assets. It’s the oldest underground system in the world and covers an extensive area of greater London. For first time or infrequent visitors the tube can seem a daunting prospect to use.

As users get used to travel in London, they learn methods and tricks to make their journey easier and find coping mechanisms to make their journeys less stressful. This can take time to learn but here I have listed some of the tricks that you can use to make your own journeys easier, even if travelling by tube is a new experience to you.


Be Prepared.

If possible buy your ticket or card before you travel. The ticket offices and machines can get very busy with long queues in stations. Tickets and cards can be bought in many shops and online. If you do have to buy in a station, if it’s possible, choose a station away from tourist or commuter areas and purchase outside of peak travel times.

Stand Aside.

Don’t stop at entrances, exits or stairs to check maps, bags etc. You will block the flow of people. On stairs and escalators, make sure you stand on the right side, to allow people who want to continue walking to pass. Have your ticket or oyster card ready before you get to the turnstile. The flow of people through the turnstiles can be fast and the last thing you want to be doing is creating irritated commuters by holding up their journeys while you search for your ticket or card. It will also make your passage through smoother and quicker

Learn Your Route.

If you have to do the same journey a number of times, on your first trip, identify where on the destination platform the exit is. Then, on future journeys, position yourself on a carriage that stops opposite this exit. This will save you valuable seconds and will put you at the front of all the other people exiting the train.

Mind Your Bags.

At peak times, the carriages can get unbelievably packed with commuters. Whenever possible, try to travel light with the minimum of bags and other luggage. On the subject of bags, be aware that pick pockets do operate on the tube, so always keep your bags with you, keep them closed and take packs off your back and hold in front of you. Be careful with wallets, purses and money in your pockets, try avoiding carrying them in back pockets and use a travel wallet if you have one.


Take The Steps.

Consider using stairs rather than lifts. Sometimes the wait for lifts can take a while and you may have to participate in performing an impression of sardines in a tin. If you notice commuters heading to the stairs, the likeliness is that the amount of steps isn’t too great. Many of the stations have the amount of steps indicated at the top and bottom of the stairs, so you can judge for yourself if you up for the climb.


If the train is busy and your destination is near the end of the line, try to move to the middle of the carriage. You will be more likely to grab a seat when one becomes available and will also avoid the crush around the doors. The opposite is true if you are only going a few stops in rush hour and the carriage is packed. Don’t move too far away from the doors. If you move far into the carriage you will then have to fight your way back off when you get to your stop.

Personal Space.

It is often said that commuters on the tube look miserable and don’t talk to each other. This is actually not because they are a sullen brigade of travelers but has more to do with personal space. Being squeezed up next to strangers does mean a loss of personal space so many commuters deal with this by losing themselves in their own thoughts, in a book or block out their surroundings with music through earphones. If you don’t like being cramped in with others, give it a try. Escape from your squashed surroundings into your favorite music or into a good read.

And…Mind The Gap!

With a bit of awareness and forward planning and by following the tips I have given, travel in London by tube can be an easy, quick and practical way to get around and enjoy the capital.

Central London


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    • jasmith1 profile image

      Adrian Smith 4 years ago from UK

      Yes it is! Glad you enjoyed the article

    • HappyMikeWritter profile image

      HappyMikeWritter 4 years ago

      London is an amazing place. Tube in London is so organize and well done.

      Thank you so much for this article. I enjoy it.