Pumpkin in Waterloo Station

London with Kids: How accessible is the London Underground?

One of the big themes of this blog is trains and here in the UK you can’t really talk about trains without mentioning the London Underground or ‘the tube’. Leo (he’s told me he would prefer I use his real name for the blog, so from now on I shall!) is an absolute expert and huge fan of the London Underground so it seemed fitting that together we would come up with some ‘Top Tips’ for braving the worlds oldest and most famous underground train network.

image of pumpkin driving a london underground train

Leo’s Top Tips:

Look at every sign you come to.

Transport for London will send you large print maps and audio guides (free) for all the stations which is great!

Green Park is a bit dirty… (sorry Green Park).

The best station is Waterloo because its got lots of different lines going through it.

The Jubilee Line is the best because its quickest.

It is worth noting that most of the above is influenced by his favourite ‘you tubers’ and may or may not be accurate.

Now, the London Underground is far from the most accessible train network, some of the stations still do not have step free access which can be a real nuisance if you have a buggy and/or wheelchair. As far as I am aware they are working on this all the time but for now it just means you have to be a bit savvy with your route planning. I clearly remember being stuck with a buggy at a station near Leicester Square when I realised there was no lift. I had to get a taxi, which as I’m sure you are aware is much MUCH more expensive. Here you can download the latest London Underground avoiding-stairs-tube-guide

Transport for London now also offer maps and guides for people who suffer from claustrophobia and anxiety as well as advice for people taking a bike or stations with toilet facilities. Go here for a variety of downloadable maps.

Depending on your child’s needs the tube could either be the most fun they’ve had all year or the scariest. The smells, noises and sensations are like nowhere else and it’s probably a good idea to talk about what it is going to be like before you go, have a good look at the tube map together and plan your routes. There are many videos on Youtube of people on the London Underground that could also be helpful for preparation. On the day, pack your child’s comfort items, ear defenders, iPad, fidget toys etc to hopefully ease any stress.

Transport for London offer this specific advice for Pregnant ladies and buggy users including how to order a ‘baby on board’ badge that should help you ensure you get a seat. For anyone with mobility issues and disabilities you can also order a ‘please offer me a seat’ badge here.

The more general advice would be to purchase an Oyster Card as it is a cheaper and more convenient way to travel.

Stand on the right of the escalator so that people in a hurry can pass.

Take plenty of water to drink as it gets hot down there, especially in the Summer.

Many of the central stations are close together, it could be quicker and easier to walk.

I asked some lovely fellow bloggers for their London Underground tips and here they are:

Jemma from Mayflower Blogs: I took my three year old on her first London trip to a blog event. My main worry was the tube but I kept her in front of me on the escalators, and came down to her level on the tube trains so she wasn’t panicked by lots of people around her. I just crouched next to her and talked about the fast train taking us to where we needed to go.
Preparation is key. Know where you’re going so you’re not aimlessly wandering to find the right platform etc.

Lauren from Scrapbook Blog: I’ve never had a problem, even with a toddler and a baby in a buggy! People will offer to help you lift the buggy up and down stairs and they’re not that tricky to use on escalators either. When baby was really small I found it easier to use a sling though.

Amy from thesmallestofthings: I find that the younger gentleman are much more inclined to help you carry your pushchair! But I’d also say to find the nearest tube station that’s step free or has a lift even if it means walking a bit further

Mandi from bigfamilylittleadventures: We’ve taken all seven children with no problem, we use a backpack with a strap attached for the two smallest, just as an extra precaution, but they all love it! We used to used slings when tbey were smaller, just because it was,easier than the double pushchair.Definitely plan your route before you go.

Laura from maxandmummy: I’ve got a 6 year old and we turn it into a game. We get him to plot our journey, use the map and count stations as we go. He loves it and seems to pay attention more when he has something to do as we go.

As well as these two specifically about travelling on the tube with toddlers from Me, him the dog and the baby and Trips with a Tot:

The Tube and a Toddler

and Trips with a Tot:

Doing London with a Toddler – 5 top tips from experience with a 19 month old in London

If you found this post helpful or you have anything to add please do comment below!

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