You think I’m exaggerating when I say getting around London can bring you to tears. I wish I was. I’m not. I managed to get on the wrong bus three times on my first day, getting more lost by the second. I’ve got on the train going the wrong way and haven’t realised until I’m just about in the countryside. So let me give you some insight to make you less blonde than I.
First: download Citymapper. I can’t stress this enough. It will save yo ass more times than you’d like to admit. It has live trackers on buses, so you can tell exactly just how long you’ll be standing in the rain. It also gives heaps of options, if you’d rather bus only, and even has the Boris bikes included. These show up where the nearest docking station is, and how many bikes are there. The one problem with Citymapper is it operates better with postcodes, but this seems to be improving. If you want the postcode, chuck the address in Google Maps. Google Maps is good too, but seems to rely heavily on the Central line and buses, so you might not be on the fastest route.
Check which way you’re headed: it sounds trivial, but it’s such an easy mistake to make. Citymapper tells you the final stop of your train. Make sure you’re going that way. As for buses, it’s easy to see the bus number you’re after, and jump on. Again, Citymapper will tell you what letter stop you need to be at. Very handy to mean you don’t end up the wrong direction!
Get an Oyster card: these cut the cost of travel by about half, and have a daily cap, which means even if you do muck it up, you won’t end up needing to sell some vital organs. If you have a railcard, you can link this to it for even better rates. Just ask someone at the station to suss this for you.
Set up tube wifi: each phone provider has free underground wifi, which can come in super handy if you’re running late and want to tell someone it’s the trains fault, not yours. You have to set it up through your phone company in your online account above ground, but once you’ve done it once, you’re good to go.
If you’re running late, or it’s past your bedtime, Uber can be a really good option. Uber Pool is revolutionary. By that I mean it’s cheap…if you’re able to spare an extra few minutes, it’ll be about a third cheaper. More cheeseburgers on the way home am I right? The concept is that you ride share with others going the same way. You and a friend can use it, and may end up with up to two other friends. If you’re new to Uber, you can get your first ride free by entering katek1276ue when you sign up.
It can pay to check how quickly your feet can get you places. TfL have released a handy map for central London, that shows the walking time between some stations. The way the tube map is drawn makes you think some places are miles away. But by the time you get underground and walk 20km, you might as well have stayed above ground and enjoy the sunshine!
Fancy being a bit of a tourist? The buses can be good, as you get your bearings better. You now get two trips within an hour for the price of one, which is awesome if you have a change along the way. Try sitting up the top at the front if you can. Not quite a rollercoaster but it’s a bit of an adventure as you narrowly miss cyclists and people on feet.
The London tube map can look like a bundle of really pretty spaghetti, but it does get easier with time. Don’t be afraid to ask; you’ll either get yelled at or someone will take pity on you. Failing that, whip out your phone and use your brand new Citymapper with that free wifi. Problem sorted. Dry those tears.