There are so many different types of transportation in different cities, and it can be difficult to figure out the best option.
In this new series, I will discuss the various modes of transit I have taken and which I think is the most beneficial.
Some of the options in London are:
As a rule, private transportation generally should be avoided for the sake of cost. Taxi drivers always charge more than public transit and, oftentimes, more than ride share companies like Uber and Lyft. Taxis are good for security reasons, as they are licensed drivers with insurance and knowledge of the city. They may, however, take roundabout routes, thereby driving up the price of the ride, because they realize that tourists may not notice.
If money is not as much of a deciding factor and you prefer a more secure and direct ride, a taxi is a decent option.
Transportation providers such as Uber, Lyft, and similar companies are a safe option in my opinion. I have never had a bad experience with Uber or Uber Eats, and my close friends have never told me about bad experiences they may have had. I personally did not know about Uber when I was in London, but if I had, I probably would not have taken it for one simple reason: I needed WiFi to use the internet. I had my data turned off because data plans (and using data without a plan) are really expensive in a foreign country, and I already had a hard time finding free WiFi in London. I would not have been able to maintain the connection during the ride either and could not have tracked our progress, which would make me feel less comfortable.
If this is not a problem for you, or perhaps you have access to data or a hot spot in London, Uber would be a better option than a taxi. You would have a private and secure ride from someone with knowledge of the city, and you would easily be able to ask for interesting locations and food recommendations, as well as hidden gems that are not common knowledge for tourists.
The best thing, however, is that you can track the ride and see how you will reach your destination, which takes out the concern for being taken on an extra-long ride to increase the price or ending up in an unexpected place. You can also choose a more luxurious car to arrive in style or a carpool option to lower the cost.
If Uber is still too expensive for you, the bus is a good option. You can easily find maps of bus routes and figure out which is the best for you. I personally was really confused the couple times we used the bus in London, and we even managed to get lost around 3 or 4 in the morning after getting off a stop or two early and walking away from our hostel rather than toward it. The cost is very convenient, but I found the time tables, routes, and lines to be difficult to understand.
For payment on public transportation, I highly recommend getting an Oyster Card if you are spending more than a couple days in London. They offer single day passes and individual tickets, but those are good if you’re staying one or two days. Oyster Cards can be refilled, and rather than standing in line or waiting at the ticket machines, you can simply swipe your card and move on. You will be charged according to where you get on compared to where you get off.
Oyster Cards or another travel card are required for the bus, as they do not take cash. You will also have to go to a separate location if you want a single fare ticket.
Tube/Underground (Subway): 10/10
This is the best option.
With the different lines, Oyster Card system, and easily maneuverable platforms, the Tube is incredibly easy to understand. The lines are color-coded, and the platforms indicate which station you’re at, which line you’re on, and which direction the train is headed.
We took the Tube from Heathrow Airport to Swiss Cottage, where our hostel was. We had to take two lines, and though we were in a new city, a new country, we easily figured out how to transfer and find our way, even though we each had a suitcase and backpack.
The subway system is a great, efficient, and affordable way to navigate the city, and I highly recommend getting an Oyster Card to make your trip quicker and easier.