London, UK is a great city. It has a thriving arts scene, a cool pub on every corner, underground bars, magnificent culture, profound history, stunning urban scenery, interesting people and continuous international events. Sure, a pint costs a fiver, it’s hard to breathe on the Tube and eye contact is an unwritten forbidden rule. True – with so, so, so many people packed into a relatively small place, the result can be quite claustrophobic. And very stressful.
However, the joys of England’s capital far outweigh the bad. London is loved by those who live in it. And so many inhabitants say they can’t imagine living anywhere else. To enjoy London entirely requires a level of experience. Those who have it know how to avoid the bad, and make the most of the good. You just have to master some rules to navigate London without the stress.
Want to avoid stress on your next trip to London?
We have compiled a list of ways to beat the stress of London – helping you to experience only the best of this potentially wonderful city.
London is exceptionally well connected. There are numerous ways to navigate the city. The Tube, or London Underground, is the most common. Yet there are also national rail systems, local buses, the DLR and ferries that all navigate the city. Some people even brave biking through the busy London streets. All transport runs pretty smoothly, considering the chaos of a city. Yet none of them are entirely reliable.
To avoid stress in London, be flexible in travel choices. Is your train delayed? Ask any transport worker – amazingly, they will automatically reel off alternative routes to your destination. There are countless ways to get from A to B in London. If one isn’t working for you, just try another. Don’t set your mind on a specific journey – just head in the right direction. This strangely usually works out for a much smoother journey.
Give Yourself Time
Always give yourself lots of time to travel across London. Especially if you have a deadline. You can’t predict the reliability of the transport or your own knowledge of the system. It is easy to become lost, confused and rushed in the wrong direction – and that’s just inside the stations. To avoid stress, go slow, stay calm, and don’t let the crazy London commuters rush you.
Leave well ahead of time in case things go wrong. If you need time to walk to the next station or change your route, this won’t be a problem. And you won’t become more stressed than you need to be.
Visit the Parks and the River
One of the greatest ways to avoid stress in any situation is to be in nature. Quiet and calm, being in fresh air has a soothing quality, which helps us to relax. London is a metropolis, but there are areas of natural beauty. Large parks are scattered around the city. They provide the perfect break from busy streets and especially light up on summer days. People come here to wind down, lie down and enjoy the rare blue skies.
Hyde Park, St James’ Park, and Regent’s Park are all areas of vast green land. Be sure to visit them as you travel across London, and avoid stress on the packed pavements. Alternatively, the River Thames winds its way through the city. Some stretches are popular with runners and strollers as the walkways along the water are open and lined with trees. Take a walk, and embrace the beauty of London.
Space is sparse in London. Especially on the tube. Everyone in the carriage silently hates the carriers of big bags. When it’s you, you not only feel hated, but clumsy and awkward negotiating the small tunnels and many steps of stations. Not to mention guilty when the door closes on someone who couldn’t fit on the train. Because of you.
Sometimes, you can’t avoid this. But when it can be prevented – choose to travel light to avoid stress in London. Have one bag, keep it closed and tidy. Don’t stuff your ticket at the bottom – be ready for the barriers. Have your hands free and be willing to move out the way for other passengers. You might even be lucky enough to receive a mumbled thank you in return.
Sounds militant? It is. Be prepared. Because when those Tube doors open, it’s every man, woman, and child for themselves.
Top tip: just stand on the right of the escalator, to make the screams of “STAND ON THE RIGHT” stop.
Master the Tube Map
Every Londoner will say that the tube map isn’t complicated. Every tourist is initially baffled by its complexity. Locals might sneer at people studying the underground station map, but it’s worth getting to know what’s going on. There are signs everywhere, and everything is color coordinated for your small, confused brain. Eventually, you might realize it really isn’t that difficult.
Another option to avoid stress in London? Avoid the Tube altogether. The stations are actually really close together. Especially if you are sticking to a particular area of the city, it’s easy to walk around. This way, you avoid the rushing people and stifling air of the underground. Keep your head above ground and travel London by foot instead.
It might be easy to dismiss London because of its seemingly inherent stressful qualities. Many criticize the fast pace, stony faces and samey routes of commuters. Everyone says that no one talks on the Tube. But it’s not true, some people do. There is a lot of individuality in the city – it’s too big for there not to be. It’s an exciting playground of activity. You can do almost anything in London. The truth is that it holds too much goodness to deny. Learn how to avoid stress in this fantastic capital, and you’re ready to explore only the good bits of London.