If you are a London commuter, I’m sure you can understand the struggle of getting on the underground train during rush hour. Unless you like small tight spaces, and having zero personal space, it is not the most pleasant experience in the world. And if you don’t have the luxury of flexible hours you can’t really avoid it.
After a year of my daily 2 hour commute from Zone 4 into Central London, I picked up a few survival tips.
Every minute you leave your house early helps. The closer it gets to 8 am, the busier it is, and as a result, the more irritated you will be. Leaving your house earlier also decreases the chances of you embarrassing yourself by pushing and squeezing on a train that is already spilling on the sides, despite the doors closing… all because you woke up late. We’ve all seen people who literally slam through the tube’s closing doors, getting their bag stuck as a results, or even worse, an arm.
The underground is also a breeding place for germs. You will find creatures that cough without covering their hands, and sneeze all over your unprotected face. You are also touching several poles to prevent you from falling, which have probably been held by hundreds of other commuters that day. Let’s not even think about where those hands have been before. To combat this, it is very important for you to carry a hand sanitizer and pocket tissue. Refrain from touching your mouth or face until you get to your destination and are able to wash your hands.
If you are unable to get a seat (which is very likely) where you stand can make the biggest difference. In between the rows of seats is a prime spot. You only have two people beside you, and are not in someone’s face. If these are taken, beside the door that doesn’t open much is ideal. There is less people pushing you to get in or out. It can actually be quite peaceful.
Travelling in general is really boring. But travelling in a cramped spaced even more so. Bring a book with you. It makes the journey go quicker and saves you from your struggles of avoiding awkward eye contact with other people on the train. Or perhaps an audio book? Less stuff to carry and arguably more relaxing.
Try different train routes and lines if you have a choice. You’ll end up finding the least unpleasant route with less commuter, which in turn could reduce your journey time, or just be less stressful.
Instead of seeing it as a chore, look at it like an amusement park. People can be quite amusing.
Finally, keep calm and breathe. Commuting is not that serious. We are all in the same boat.