London: The Tube with kids

Jan 29th, 2006, 07:33 AM
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London: The Tube with kids

Will be in London in Spring with my 2 kids--5 yrs and 2 yrs. We plan to take the Tube to go places. What advice can you give with regards to safety, convenience, going up & down the escalators, etc? Will it be more convenient to take buses instead?

Jan 29th, 2006, 07:55 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I would suggest practicing on escalators with the kids. I recently saw a mother loaded with stuff and a 2 year old on a long escalator at the Ottawa airport. The child did not know to start walking at the bottom (in spite of the mother's instruction) and just fell at the end. Fortunately I had just enough space to squeeze around and there was no pile up. Have you ever been to London? If so you know how busy the Underground is and can imagine the potential for disaster. Presumable the youngest could be carried. Obviously avoid rush hour but the trains can be busy almost any time. I would consider using Taxis.
Gavin is offline  
Jan 29th, 2006, 08:16 AM
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There are some stations with no escalators; just stairs. I like buses so much more because you can actually see the sites. I hate being underground in a City like London where I feel like I'm missing everything.
Catbert is offline  
Jan 29th, 2006, 08:20 AM
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Tubes are easy to figure out and fairly accessible for all ages . . although some of the older stations the escalators can be pretty steep and long.

I find I enjoy taking the buses in London because I can see more of the town than from the tube . . I take the tube only when I want to go a long way in a hurry.

There are still a few of the old Roadmaster double-deckers on the "traditional" routes, which are fun to ride just for the experience.

You can buy 3, 5 and 7 day passes which may not save much money, but does make it easier to get on and off the bus and tube . . particularly with munchkins.
Rich is offline  
Jan 29th, 2006, 08:29 AM
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I recommend not using the Tube at all, because except for really long-distance trips, the bus is almost always faster (and always more scenic, as noted above). Sit upstairs in the front. Buy a 7-day bus pass for yourself. Kids (under 16) travel free on buses and trams.

The Routemaster "Heritage Routes" are the #9 from Royal Albert Hall to Aldwych, and the #15 between Trafalgar Square and Tower Hill. You will find a poster here:
Passepartout is offline  
Jan 29th, 2006, 08:44 AM
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The Tube is very easy...and if you miss one because your kids don't move fast enough, there will be another one along in a few minutes.

Stay on the right side of the escalater, and make your kids do it too. They walk on the right and pass on the left in the UK, except in cars.

Do not throw yourself into a subway car when the doors are closing. The doors don't automatically re-open to let the other half of your body in like an elevator usually does in the US. Tube riders will have to pry the door open to let you in, and you will die of embarrassment, or at least feel like you will. Yes, that's personal experience talking.

Also "Mind the Gap" especially with that little one.

Happy travels,

jules4je7 is offline  
Jan 29th, 2006, 08:51 AM
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"Mind the Gap" might bear a little explanation.

At some stations, because of the curvature of the track, there is a gap between the platform and the cars. So you have to step further than normal to avoid stepping in a hole.
Passepartout is offline  
Jan 29th, 2006, 08:55 AM
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There was a well-known absent-minded professor in the 60s who used to take his kids around London tied together loosely with string.
gertie3751 is offline  
Jan 29th, 2006, 10:00 AM
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Good advise about standing on the right, and letting those who want to go faster pass on the left. I would carry the two-year old on the escalator if possible, hold the 5-year olds hand.
At those ages, the bus is more convenient I think. There sometimes quite a walk to get to the trains, especially if you have to change trains somewhere along the route. Avoid rush hour if you can.
Tulips is offline  
Jan 29th, 2006, 01:02 PM
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I mostly use the tube, but if I had small children w/ me I'd use the buses almost exclusively.

Taking the tube sounds so fast and easy - and it is. But entering a tube station is just the beginning - loooooo/steep escalators, some stairs, looooong underground walks, up and down steps and more looong walks to transfer lines are the norm in many stations. And the few stations w/ lifts - people cram into them and the kids will be crushed in w/ all those taller people not really looking out for them.
janisj is online now  
Jan 29th, 2006, 01:26 PM
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I'd skip the tube if I were you. Your kids ride the buses for free and they are so much easier. I assume that you'll have a stroller with you for the two year old. As mentioned before, many of te stops have sets of stairs from the platforms and then escalators.
You'll waste way too much energy (yours and the kids') on the tube.
highledge is offline  
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