Summer is here. Finally. Which is great news. Usually. For the summer, as we know, can totally suck on the Underground. It’s a different kind of experience from the winter months, which run from September to June.
Here’s how to survive summer on the Tube. If you’re a Londoner and have lived in the Big Smoke for like a million years then, yes, you probably know most of this. But it might be a useful refresher. And for newcomers to the capital, this mini-guide could save your sanity, your job and even your life!
Wear your lightest threads
It gets hot in summer. In London, it’s hotter. Buffeted by buildings and denied the cooling powers of a summer breeze, things can get sticky. On the Underground, this is exacerbated several times over. Tube stations are humid, suffocating heat traps. So don’t overdress. Wear the lightest, thinnest threads you can. Remember, even if it’s a chilly start to the day, by rush-hour the Underground will be packed with millions of bodies radiating the kind of heat the machines from The Matrix would kill for.
Take all the water!
This is an important one. On a slow, humid commute you can get really dehydrated really quickly. You need hydration. Water! Most of us don’t drink enough water as it is; now imagine your poor body working overdrive on your way to work. People have been known to pass out and collapse on the Underground – and worse – so make sure you’re stocked up with H20. Remember that delays mean you’re stuck. No big deal when it’s cool, but killer when it’s steamy. It would probably be good to get through a 500ml bottle on each substantial trip.
Bring air freshener
Heat means bodies creating perspiration. While ladies ‘glowing’ on film looks exotic, we all know that being stuck under someone’s armpit in 40C heat isn’t quite as glamorous. Interestingly, deodorant brands seem to be engaging in some kind of anti-sweat arms race right now. Forget 24-hour protection, or even 48-hour protection; you can now buy 96-hour protection. Which makes you wonder why anyone would ever sweat, ever. I guess people forget. So bring any kind of nice smell-making device, and remember your own mini-deodorant for sweat ‘lapses’.
Space is at a premium over summer on the Tube. There are tourists all year round in London, of course, but in summer there’s an even bigger influx. This all puts a huge strain on services, and things get uncomfortably congested. Not ‘Tokyo congested’, but it’s unpleasant. Add to that the extra British travellers heading in for big shows, conferences, festivals and sporting events, plus more people heading across London to make train connections and flights with their huge luggage… It all gets pretty intense. So travel as light as you can. Leave any bags and cases you don’t need at home, and think twice about taking laptops or other devices home to work in the evening.
Plan different routes
Londoners are usually pretty proud of their ability to recall Tube maps, Minority Report style, and work through alternative routes. But if you’re relatively new to London living you’ve probably only learnt your usual journey. Well, that needs to change. Right now. Plan different journeys and learn how to make it home from a variety of places. When it gets really busy, put your Plan B into action. You’ll be thankful for it. It might take longer, but you might discover some awesome new place on your way home.
Brush up on your Japanese
With all the tourists hitting London, unless you project the kind of surly disposition that says ‘do not mess with me’, chances are people from all over the world will pester you for directions or advice on how to get around the Tube. Learning a few words in Spanish or French or – if you’re feeling really brave – an east-Asian language makes the whole exchange go a lot easier. Instead of the cumbersome activity of miming or shrugging your shoulders and walking away, you could help someone out – and be on your way quickly.
Leave yourself plenty of time
Last but not least, bearing in mind all the stuff we’ve talked about in terms of tourists, heat, delays and everything else, it’s probably best to leave yourself plenty of time to get anywhere. Anywhere. You don’t want to be in a situation where you miss the Circle line three times because of delays and masses of people, then arrive for a gig 10 minutes after it started and find the band has already played your favourite song!
About the author
Andrew Tipp is a writer, blogger and editor. He works in digital publishing, and often writes about pop culture, travel and trends. Andy has lived and worked in London, and is interested in films, graphic novels, bacon, miso soup and zombies.