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If you are coming to London for the first time this semester as an international student or commuting to university every day; being able to use London’s transport network efficiently and effectively is essential! Even though rush hour in London feels like being in the pits of hell, it is extremely quick to get around London with the fantastic network we have so I am definitely grateful! I live at home, so I commute to University often, and as part of this I have learnt a few tips and tricks to make your journey easier, as well as some basic advice, which I will share.


  • Remembering this is crucial for avoiding dirty looks and sighs from commuters during busy hours, though despite this you will still spot a few tourists standing on the left side. You really do not want to be this person.
  • When you are feeling particularly down or ill, from personal experience, I know that having a seat during your commute can just add that slight ease to your commute. One way to aid this is by positioning yourself directly in front of where the doors will open so you can be the first person on the tube, and therefore more likely to get a seat. One way of being able to do this, is by standing directly to the side of the ‘mind the gap’ writing on the platform or standing where the yellow line has been particularly worn out, as this is where the most footfall is.
  • Following on from the last point, I have noticed a few unwritten rules of the underground which you have to observe unless you want to be thrown off the platform by angry commuters (not really though).
  • Always let people off the train before you get on! Waiting on either side of the open doors until every single passenger has come off, and also waiting in the imaginary queue is definitely a rule you have observe. Even though, most of the queues at tube stations will not be the single file orderly one you will see at Canary Wharf.
  • Please get your oyster card out before the barriers! After the escalators it should be common sense that the ticket barriers are next, but some people will still get it out at the last minute causing a large hurdle of agitated Londoners behind them.
  • On that note, use your contactless card rather than your oyster card; it costs exactly the same and I find it much more convenient. Just remember to use the same method or else your total ticket could come up to well over £10, rather than the usual £8.20 cap. Since, there is a daily cap, if you are travelling in London for just a day there is no need to get a one day ticket, just use your oyster card- it works out to be cheaper! Buying travelcards, which give you unlimited bus and tube travel, when you know you will be travelling everyday can save you a few pounds too.
  • Since we are students and need to save well, it is important to bare in mind that you can claim back some money if your journey is delayed by more than 15 minutes. You can do this using the TfL form (http://www.tfl.gov.uk/fares-and-payments/replacements-and-refunds) or there are some apps which do this process for you. I have also benefited from claiming money back on the rare occasion that I have been overcharged; don’t be afraid to chase this up!


Here are a few more important tips:


  • Avoid Waterloo station; it is a real life maze and extremely busy so avoid if you’re new and if you can!
  • Whether it is winter or summer, being packed in the tube like sardines causes temperatures to rocket. So, make sure you wear plenty of deodorant and bring a bottle of water with you at all times so your journey is as pleasant for yourself and others as possible.
  • Standing in the middle of the carriage between the seats entitles you to the seat behind and in front of you if someone gets up, so try and stand here when possible!
  • Try to remember what line stations close to your home are on, as well as stations which can lead to that line. This will help you out when your train is suspended or delayed and you need to take an alternative journey with only your tube map to help.
  • All your bags/backpacks should be taken off and placed between your feet, even before you get on the tube- this is a very important one!


I hope these tips improve your experience travelling around London!

Second year undergraduate at KCL
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