How To Take The Tube Like A Natural

26 March 2016

Over the past several weeks, I've begun to fall in love with so many little aspects of London. From the quaint little pop-up shops in Underground stations to the bright lights of Piccadilly Square, there is always something to do and something to see here. But in order to get anywhere in this bustling city, you need to take the tube a.k.a the most organised form of chaos you have ever seen!

It can be pretty tricky navigating in a new city, especially one with its own etiquette of public transport. I can still distinctly remember stumbling across Euston station for the first time like a lost puppy, while so many Londoners passed by me faster than the wind could carry them. They, of course, knew exactly where they were going, while I had to call up my Google Map Instructions to figure out where the hell I was. The joys of being a tourist! So from my perspective as a Londoner of two and a half months, here's how to take the tube like a natural.

1. Always stay to the right on the Escalators
London life is completely fast paced, and nothing reflects that more than the fast lane. If you have no intention of moving up the escalators and want to stay stationary during your journey, always stick to the right of the escalators. The left is the fast lane, dedicated to all those busy bees on their way to work or in a rush to get somewhere. Trust me, you do not want to disrupt their flow or else you may find yourself at the wrath of someone else's frustration. 

2. Find Your Balance

The key to surviving a ride on the tube standing is balance. If you're taking the tube during peak hour than the likelihood of you finding a seat is pretty rare. More often than not, you'll find yourself , hanging on to side railings and ceiling hand holders to make sure you don't fall onto someone's lap. (I truly pity the soul who has been through this!) To avoid that awkward situation, you'll need to balance your feet accordingly. So rest the back part of your heel on the ground, giving you a firm grounding. Your knees slightly far apart, so you can rest ease but also have a strong stance standing. It'll help immensely when the tube driver decides to screech to a halt!

3. Let go of your idea of personal space
If you're lucky to take the tube outside of peak hour, then you may not have to worry about this at all. But during a peak hour ride, you may find yourself sandwiched between two bodies, brushing up against you and your belongings. That much pretty comes with the territory. As horrible as it sounds, this seriously shall pass. Everyone is moving onto their next stop, and while you have to endure this uncomfortable form of torture for a short while, soon enough you'll be free to breathe without inhaling a fist of someone else's hair. Just kidding! Well, sort of ...

4. Find an activity to entertain yourself on the commute
If you're a tourist gallivanting round Zone One, then you don't need anything but your excitement to keep you company. But my fellow commuters who live and breathe the London air every morning on their way to work, you need something to keep you busy - especially if you live outside of zone one. You can't get away with just sitting down staring out the window, because more often than not when you're underground, there is no scenic view from your window. And surfing the web is out the question as you barely have signal underground. The boredom will eventually drive you crazy. So find a podcast to listen to. Read a book or the metro. Write down your thoughts on your phone. It'll help so much in making the time pass. And before you know it your journey will be over.

4. Be prepared for the unexpected
Seriously the most random and bizarre things happen on the daily commute, like a man pocketing a young pup in his navy blue jacket pocket (which seriously happened for the record). London is an exciting filled with so many different types of people, living a range of varied lifestyles. You are bound to catch a glimpse of that as you travel, which can be pretty exciting and also very bizarre ... You'll leave with the most interesting stories.

5. Always have snacks and water at the ready
Before boarding the tube, make sure you have a snack and drink in your bag at the ready. Travelling underground can be a long journey, especially as the air down there is a little thinner and with the occasional red signal prolonging your travels as well. When there's also so many people in one vicinity, it's bound to get pretty stuffy. Having a drink on hand will help keep you hydrated and healthy on your way home. You'll be surprised how many people actually faint from the heat underground and the compact space. Accordingly to several of the tube staff, it's a pretty common occurrence - especially during the summer heat! 

Seasoned Londoners, have any advice for newbies on taking the tube?

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