In most large cities across the world, traffic and congestion can be a real problem, meaning that a car isn’t your best choice for navigating a place you’re unfamiliar with.
The cheapest and easiest way to find your way around is usually by getting aboard a subway system. Lots of cities like Paris and New York have these, and while they offer affordability benefits, they can seem frightening when you aren’t used to them.
Perhaps the most complex-looking subway map of all is the London Underground or Tube network. There are lines running everywhere from one side of the city to another and it can be extremely daunting to try to tackle it.
However, it’s not as complicated as it seems, and a lot of this is thanks to the fact that all the lines have their own colours, so you can clearly distinguish one from the other.
There are Tube stations and stops located conveniently all over the city, so you should really ingratiate yourself to this handy form of travel. We’ve outlined just a few pointers here to get you started that will make sure you don’t have any problems during your stay in the city.
Keep your Oyster card loaded
Most big cities have prepaid cards that people use to swipe through the turnstiles at stations instead of having to buy tickets constantly.
In London, this is the Oyster Card, which you can top up at all stations during your stay. As you pass through a turnstile, it will tell you how much the trip is and how much is left on your card balance. That way, you’ll know when you need to put some more money on to it – you can also check your balance at the machines you use to load money to your card.
If you don’t have time to put more money on the card, don’t worry – you can now use your contactless debit or credit card to go through the turnstile too.
Keep a copy of the map nearby
All the stations in London have a copy of the Underground network, which is definitely useful for you to have.
When you’re staying at the M by Montcalm Shoreditch London Tech City hotel, you’ll probably notice people poring over one of these at breakfast or in the lobby and bar areas.
It’s not always handy for you to be carrying around a paper map however, so we would recommend that you make sure you download a Tube map app. These digital versions will also be able to plan your route for you, showing you which way is the fastest and where you’ll need to make changes. Many of these will also show you which lines are undergoing maintenance and if there are any delays.
Check where the nearest station is
It’s always good to make sure you know where the nearest Tube station is, just in case you need to head off somewhere quickly.
The closest station to the M by Montcalm Shoreditch London Tech City hotel is Old Street, which operates Northern line services and is located three minutes’ walk away.
It’s also important to try to remember where stops are along the way when you’re out for the day, just in case your phone battery dies, taking your route with it.
Keep an eye out for sellers
As the Tube is largely underground – hence its name – people are confined to one small area, which is where sellers can find a market.
You’ll notice that there are a lot of performers in Tube stations including musicians, artists and dancers, among others. Although most of these people are genuine, you should still keep an eye out for scams.
Think of the colours
If you get stuck trying to remember what the names of each of the different lines are, focus instead on the colour of each one.
This should be easier for you to recall, as generally people process images better than they do words. Each of the trains on the Tube network will display the colour that corresponds to the line it travels. For example, trains on the Northern line will show each of the stops it goes to against the colour black.
Make sure you do your research before you go to London – having some background information of how the Underground and its trains function will stand you in excellent stead.
You also need to be aware that there are thousands of people who use this network every day – most whom travel on it for work. For this reason, you should know your route so you don’t hold anyone up but more importantly, so you don’t get barged into by busy Londoners!
Help is at hand
Although it is an extremely busy environment, there are still plenty of staff at stations who will be happy to give you a hand.
In particular, larger stations like Waterloo and Euston will have big help desks with people who are specifically trained to know the London Underground inside out.
When you’re on the train and you aren’t sure if you’re going the right way, ask someone you’re sitting next to! Londoners have an unfortunate reputation for being unfriendly, but when you actually need help, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how affable they actually are.