Public transport in London is very different to down here in Ramsgate. It’s busy, hectic, a mad rush, busy, constantly busy and if you’re not moving quickly, Londoners tend to let you know about it. Before I moved to Ramsgate, I lived in South West London for most of my life’s whole 26 years. And like a lot of people in London, I didn’t bother learning to drive because the transport system was so good. Driving is expensive and London has good links so you don’t really need to have a car unless it’s for work, or you’re living in the outskirts. The public transport system in London is good, probably one of the best, if not the best in the world, but with it comes a lot of problems if you’re a parent with a baby/child. Getting to anywhere requires a bit of preparation, especially if you have a buggy. Not all trains have step-free access, which means if you don’t plan ahead, you,l be hit with a lot of steps, stairs and no lifts. This is a huge no-no across TFL and national rail stations in London. The first time I tried it with Emily, it was difficult, but thankfully not too bad, but then again she slept the whole route so it didn’t really matter, how long I took or if there were any delays.
I don’t go to London often and usually when I do, it’s not to Central London, it’s to visit my family in Isleworth, which is a 50 minute journey from Kings Cross St Pancras or 40 minute journey to the rail station. The only downside to getting to Isleworth is Piccadilly line can sometimes be packed as it heads to Heathrow, it’s a popular line, so I need to travel through London during off-peak hours, and hope it’s not busy when I get a bus from Hounslow East. Isleworth rail station isn’t step free either which doesn’t help!
But, being an ex-Londoner, I thankfully know what routes to take and keep on top of news in and around London, if not via Twitter, by Sam who works in Kings Cross. So how easy is it to travel with a baby around London? Here’s my top tips for travelling with a baby around the capital:
- Have a little baby, use a sling or baby carrier. It’s so much easier to move around the city, especially if you’re by yourself.
- Avoid using a bulky pram. Transport down here has limited spaces on buses and having a bulky pram usually means getting on the bus is a nightmare, and you’re usually told to get off, by law, for a wheelchair. The spaces on London buses may be a little bigger, but not much and more than likely you’ll experience similar problems with a bigger pram.
- Plan your route before you travel. Delays can happen at a drop of a hat but usually any delays that are about to occur are usually scheduled in advance. If you’re planning on going to London after the mad rush in the morning, have a quick nosey online to see what are the latest travel alerts. Check out TFL’s website for the latest news. Make sure you have a look at all the stations with lifts and step-free access. Most stations have step-free access but it’s good to know, because some places may surprise you and you don’t want to be caught out. Check out Mumderground, an app designed for parents with children travelling around a London with buggies. Also check out TFL’s step free tube guide for latest step-free access information.
- If you’re travelling from one side of London to the other, getting to bus is a stupid idea, but if the distance is short, travel by bus. The buggy space is reasonable. As mentioned before, if a wheelchair needs to space, you’ll need to get off the bus, but most buses now have designated space for both wheelchair and buggies.
- Walk if you can. Central London has a lot of attractions close together and if it’s a nice day or it’s no raining, it’s a pleasant walk anywhere. London Waterloo is a 15 minute walk to Covent Garden, 25 minutes to Leicester Square and 30-40 minutes to Regents Street. Everything is so close together and it’s a nice little sightseeing trip instead of getting on a hot busy tube. But take a coat because this English weather loves playing tricks!
However you decide to travel around London, I hope you enjoy it. London is fun and exciting, but needs a little planning. Som commuters can be really lovely and offer a helping hand, but those opportunities can be rare, so make sure you’re prepared if you’re travelling on your own.