A London visit with kids is a must at least once in your life – there’s so much to do here! There’s no doubt though that London is expensive to get around, so we at MomAboard want to make sure that you are armed with all you need: an app, an Oyster card and a tube map to start!
- If you are going to spend a few days in London using public transportation you should get an Oyster card, which is much more economical than paying per trip. Kids up to 10 years travel free on the London tubes and buses if they are traveling with a paying adult (up to four kids per adult). This is pretty good because London transportation can be quite expensive.
- London taxis are easy to hail down and amongst the few vehicles in the world in which you can just load a baby in a stroller without having to fold it up. If you can’t find one on the street, use Hailo to get one. London cab drivers have to pass a rigorous test and know every single road in London so if you’re looking to go somewhere obscure, they’re your best bet.
- The London underground is a fantastically easy system to use. The biggest drawback for parents is that there are very few elevators or escalators so traveling with a stroller becomes a nightmare. There are always willing commuters who help but it can be a bit daunting if you are traveling by yourself and making changes. Download a London tube map here. There is a new night tube schedule now which is very exciting.
- Public buses on the other hand, are easier to manage with strollers although you will have to fold it up if the bus is very crowded. If you are traveling with a toddler, riding on the upper deck of a double decker is a serious thrill.
- Most people used to book mini cabs when traveling long distances and mini cab services abound. Do a search for a mini cab based on where you are staying: eg. “Bayswater Mini Cab” or “Chelsea Mini Cab”. You can call ahead and book an airport transfer into the city and they will pick you up. Make sure you let them know how old your children are so they can bring car seats. (Children over 3 can travel without a car seat in a licensed taxi or mini cab – see more on London car seat laws). Nowadays though, Uber seems to have taken over. UberX will take no more than 4 passengers (including a baby) so you’ll need an Uber XL. Uber is the cheapest option unless it’s surge pricing.
- Cycling enthusiasts can rent bikes from points around the city although I would not recommend riding with your children on London’s main streets.
- Be careful when crossing the street in London as there is a traffic signal for each side of the street and they don’t turn green for pedestrians at the same time. Similarly, make sure cars slow down before you enter pedestrian crossing. London drivers can be a bit aggressive!
- Express trains connect the major airports with the city: Heathrow to Paddington, Gatwick to Victoria and Stansted to Liverpool street, which might be good alternatives to taking a taxi. Depending on how many people you are it might not be more cost-effective but may save you a ton of time during rush hour. The London City Airport is located in zone 3 for which you can use your Oyster card. It is used for short flights from around Europe.
- London has traffic, lots of it. I wouldn’t recommend renting a car unless you are planning on spending some time outside of the city. Parking is expensive and congestion charges apply in some of the most popular tourist areas.
- Car seat laws in London are strict for private cars, children are required to be in a booster till they are 12 years old
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