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The public transport survival guide
Solmaz Farad

Top tips
Thursday 28 February 2019

The public transport survival guide

Travelling can be a daunting task, whether you have autism or not! All that planning, budgeting, organising… and that is before you even reach your destination. We are always travelling, whether it is to work or school every day - or even to a holiday, we must travel. The methods of travel - at least for me - are very stressful and often leave me overwhelmed. As flying cars and teleporters are still the dreams of science fiction and not reality, we still must get by with the classic cars, buses, planes and ferries. In this guide I will tell you how I cope with all these modes of transport and what to do when a problem comes up when using them. 


The London Underground aka ‘the tube’

The tube can be very challenging to ride on because of all the sensory and processing issues that comes with riding a long train underground. When you enter there is a certain smell that hits you that is combination of coffee, body odour and rats. Always rats. In addition, nearly every train station has a long moving escalator which I am always afraid will swallow me up when I step onto it. To avoid that feeling, I grab onto the handrail and stand on the bottom right of the escalator and never try to walk, instead forcing myself to look at a thousand adverts of theatre shows that I can never afford to go to. When you do manage to get on the long train I suggest these:

  • Always, always try to get a seat. I suggest getting one of those ‘please let me have a seat’ badges from TfL. People with disabilities can have one. If not, cling onto nearest handrail for dear life.
  • Make sure to bring some things that you like to pass the time as the tube can take a while to get to your destination. I have several apps on my phone I use. 


The bus 

Buses to me are far less stressful as they are not underground and the view sometimes is very nice! But the worst thing for me is when the bus stops at every stop except mine and when there are no seats either upstairs or downstairs. These are my top tips for bus travel: 

I always get a seat upstairs as it can be less noisy and crowded but this is normally easier to do when it’s not school-time! 
Ask the bus driver about your stop. It helps because it gets you used to the route and you can remember your stop easier.
Always try and get the window seat as the view will distract you.


Other modes of transport

Sometimes I go abroad, either by myself or with my parents. When I am by myself, it can be more exciting but at the same time daunting. You don’t have the protection of your parents and getting to your flight or voyage can be very tricky. Here are my suggestions: 

  • Always try and find someone who works at the airport/ferry/coach terminal to guide you through the process. When I was 10 years old I had one and he was very helpful. He asked me if I had caught Pikachu yet when I was playing Pokemon Yellow - the one where you get Pikachu at the start.
  • Before your flight see if you can get a window seat on the flight or one nearest to the toilets. But not too near, yuck.
  • Always sort out entertainment as the in-flight one will suck.
  • After you get off the flight, if you have luggage to claim, ask someone to help.
  • On the ferry you will have more space to walk around. If you're not seasick, go onto the deck.


With these tips I hope your future travel will be easier and more comfortable. One of Ambitious about Autism’s Youth Patron, Georgia Harper, has also written a detailed guide about using the London Underground so I hope you can check that one out too. 


About the author
Solmaz is Ambitious about Autism’s Marketing and Communications Intern. She loves writing, and also has interests in music, technology and beauty products.