Advice for traveling with kids on the London underground.

Sooner or later you’ll want to take your children to London to visit one or two of the many attractions. You’ll no doubt be used to getting yourself around the Tube and surviving the ordeal but what’s it like with a 5-year-old and a 7-year-old in tow? You’re probably wondering if they need a ticket and how they get through the barriers.

Do children travel for free on the London Underground?

Well the good news is children under 11 travel free on most London public transport services when accompanied by a fare-paying adult, or with a 5-10 Zip Oyster Photocard. Children aged 11 to 15 years old can get free or discounted travel with a Zip Oyster Photocard, or a Young Visitor discount.

How do you get children through the barriers on the Tube?

So if children under 11 can travel for free on the Tube how do you get them through the barrier? Most Tube Stations will either have a manned barrier at the side of the normal Tube barriers where one of the staff will let you walk through with your children. For unstaffed Tube stations or busy times lookout for the extra wide Tube barriers that people with luggage typical use. With these you can scan your card, the barrier will open and you’ll have time to push the children through safely.

General advice for traveling with young children on the Tube.

Don’t forget to scan out at the end of your trip on the Tube.

I know it can be difficult to travel with children, and they can distract you from even the most basic of tasks but try and make sure you always scan your Oyster or payment card as you leave the Tube. It’s too easy on occasion to get waved through. If you leave the Tube without scanning out you will get charged the maximum journey fare which really isnt funny.

Take a picture to record their first Tube jouney.

Don’t forget to take a picture of your children sitting on the Tube for their first journey on the London underground.

Avoid rush hour.

If you are not used to the Tube or London then this may not be obvious but if you don’t need to then I strongly suggest you avoid travelling with young children at rush hour (07:30-09:30 and 16:30-18:30).

Consider buses and walking as an alternatve to the Tube.

Do consider busses and walking as good alternatives to the Tube. London is a remarkably small city and it’s often faster to walk between places than take the time to walk to a Tube station, then walk down to the right platform, then wait for the Tube and then exit at the other end. Some of the Tube stations and the connecting walkways are enormous and it can feel like your walking for miles.

If you travel by tube another tip is to avoid some of the really busy stations. For example Covent Garden and Oxford Circus. Generally the station prior to the busy station won’t be far to walk and it will be much more pleasant.

Agree what you’ll do if you’re unlucky and get seperated on the Tube.

Finally I suggest you talk to your children before you travel about the importance of keeping close to you at all time on the Tube. It’s very easy to get separated on busy days. I know at least one person who has had the nightmare situation of having pushed one child onto the Tube had the doors close and the train leave while they are still trying to get another child onboard. It’s worth talking this possibility through with your children before you travel. They are best advise to jump off at the next station and wait for you to join them on the platform. Generally just talking this through is enough to ensure they behave on the day and stick closely to you.

Good Luck!