I’ve always loved a trip to London. For as long as I can remember day trips to London have been a big part of my life and when I went to university (for a year, but we don’t need to talk about that) I seized the chance to go and live in my favourite city. So as you can imagine, the underground really is second nature to me. For someone who has a terrible sense of direction I find it an easy system to navigate – it really is as simple as just following the signs. However when we started our own family, something was holding me back from visiting my favourite place. As much as London will always feel like a second home to me, I didn’t know how to navigate the city with a baby in tow. I’d never paid any attention to lifts or accessible routes, so the thought of a day out with the pram was more than a little daunting. As I have grown this blog, invites to London have become increasingly frequent and one day I decided I was done with turning down these invitations out of fear. The fear was really just of the unknown and now that it is has become a regular part of out lives I have become confident on the underground with the pram and two little people in tow.
Whenever I go to London with the kids, I often get asked how I manage on the tubes, so I thought I would write down some tips for anyone feeling the same fear that I was a year ago, and hope that they can be helpful. Don’t let that fear hold you back any longer!
Choose your pram wisely
I realise that if you are just off on one day trip to London you won’t be buying a new pram for the day. However, if you are looking to buy a new pram and are planning on spending lots of time on the tubes then it would definitely be worth choosing one that will make your life easier on those journeys. I’d recommend going for one that you can easily fold, preferably with one hand. Than if you need to you can hold your child in one hand and manage the pram with the other. (I have never actually needed to do this but it does give me peace of mind knowing I could if necessary). It would also be wise to go for one that is light and easy to carry. I can carry our Joie Litetrax 4 up and down stairs with my (really rather heavy) 14 month old still sitting in it – again I don’t often need to do this but it is reassuring to know that I can. Aside from these two points, just going for something as small but as sturdy as possible will be your best option.
You can plan your route around stations with lifts
It is very easy to find an accessible tube map online which can tell you exactly how easy each station will be to manage with a pram. There are enough stations throughout London with entirely step free access that you can plan your entire route around these stops if that gives you peace of mind. Personally I don’t always do this as there are other ways to navigate the tube with a pram, but for anyone really anxious about stairs and escalators, this is a good place to start.
You can take a pram on an escalator
Now I’m not saying it’s the easiest task in the world, especially not if you are also clinging onto a rogue toddler, but it can be done. A lot of this will also depend on what pram you have and a lighter, smaller pram will obviously be much easier to manage on an escalator. I take our Joie Litetrax 4 when I go to London and it is very manageable on the escalators. The trick is to make sure the front wheels are securely on the escalator a good two or three steps ahead of where you are going to stand and to be prepared to take the weight of the pram. Once you’ve done it once you’ll realise how easy it is to do.
Sometimes it’s easier to walk part of the journey
As much as this is a post all about how to take your pram on the underground, I also want to point out that sometimes it is easier to walk a part of the journey. When you look at a map of London things can look quite far apart but if you actually look up directions on Google Maps it could only be a five minute walk. Some stations are trickier than others and if it’s a nice day and you’re not in a rush then sometimes it’s just nicer to take the scenic route – above ground.
Avoid peak times if you can
To be honest, it’s probably always best to do this on the underground if you can! Nobody really wants to travel on the tube at peak times however with a pram and/or small children in tow, it makes even more of a difference to travel when it is quieter. Don’t worry if you have no choice – the more people there are around then the more people there are to help you. Which brings me onto…
People are kinder than you think
If you don’t want to plan your route around lifts or you find yourself at a station with a flight of stairs and no escalator, then carrying the pram up or down those stairs will become your only option. This really is a ‘worse case scenario’ which I am only saying to show you how totally okay it is taking your pram on the tubes. There will ALWAYS be someone willing to help you carry the pram, to lift the front wheels for you or to support you in some way. I have ended up in this situation countless times and although I can carry it by myself, there has always been someone willing to help.
Take your time and stay calm
The most important thing I want to get across to you in this post is that you will be okay. People take prams on the underground everyday, it’s totally possible and really not as much of a big deal as it can often be made out to be. Take your time to think about where you are going, pay attention to signs directing you to lifts and don’t be worried to ask for help if you need it. Everything is easier if you can stay level headed!
TFL also have some really good resources on their website, click here for more information!