On the best days, commuting in London is like an intense assault course. On the worst days, it’s like a full on triathlon. Those that regularly commute in and out of the city will know what I mean when I say that you need to be nimble and quick on your feet. So with that in mind, I thought I would share a few of my insider commuting tips and tricks that might just help you make it through the city without hardly breaking a sweat.
1. Always have your pass ready
Never be the pass fumbler stuck at the barrier. No one wants to be that person. Always have your pass in the most accessible place in your bag or jacket so that you can grab it just before you get to the barriers. Definitely load up an Oyster or use a contactless card for your trip. Why fumble with a ticket when you can swipe and go without breaking your stride. Stopping and standing in front of the barriers to rummage through your bag for your ticket is like sacrilege to the everyday commuter. Don’t do it. Just don’t.
2. Walk with confidence and stay the course
Walk with purpose and conviction, never breaking your stride and never EVER making eye contact with anyone. If you walk straight on and without looking at anyone except where you are trying to get to, you’ll find that people will naturally move out of your way. The moment you make eye contact with someone you’ll find yourself bumping into people or doing a waltz in the middle of the station. I don’t know why this works but it does, take my word for it.
3. Know the unwritten rules
A basic one but nevertheless a good one to remind people of and clarify. Escalator rules. The right hand side is for standing, and when I say standing I mean one person per step, not side by side so you can have a conversation with your commute bestie. Commuters in London won’t think twice about asking you to move out of the way, whilst huffing and puffing and making a big fuss about you not understanding the unwritten rules. There’s nothing more that will kill your buzz than a rude commuter so get it right.
The left is for walking, and when I say walking I actually mean almost running. The left side of the escalators is pretty much a mini workout for all of us commuters stuck in an office all day. The fact that it is moving just adds a level of intensity to our brief albeit satisfying workout. So make sure you’re up for a short, sharp brisk workout if you’re going to enter the fast lane.
4. Don’t be a douche
There is nothing that gets London commuters backs up more than an inconsiderate fellow commuter. Don’t be the inconsiderate person who gets onto the tube with a huge backpack and preventing someone else getting on. Take off your backpack, don’t be a douche. Don’t be equally annoying and attempt to read your book or newspaper in front of someone’s face, or worse, on top of their head. Yes, people actually do that. Equally annoying are people who lean on the pole in the centre of the carriage leaving everyone else to tube surf.
Whilst it’s fair to say that the concept of personal space goes out of the window on the tube, don’t make an already uncomfortably intimate situation worse for everyone. If you want to save yourself from the passive aggressive comments and stares don’t be a douche when commuting in London.
5. Learn where the doors & exits are
Actually getting onto the tube is a whole other ball game. First of all, there’s the complex queuing/scrum system on the platform. Which depending on which tube station you are in, you either queue either side of the doors (a la jubilee line) or spread out along the platform where you have to take your best guess on where the tube doors will stop, elbowing, I mean edging your way closer to the doors once the train arrives.
You can tell who the regular commuters are. They’ll be the ones confidently pitched on the platform in what seems to be a random spot opposite a poster. You could take your best guess and pick someone who looks fairly in the know to stand behind. But for those that want to get ahead and not look like they are tailing a random stranger, the Tube Exit app tells you exactly where the tube doors are on every London tube station platform. It’s pure genius.
Once you’ve finally managed to elbow your way onto the tube, get off at precisely the right place on the platform and out of the barriers with a quick swipe you’ve mastered commuting in London!
What are your best tips for commuting in London? Share them all here!
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