The basic, black London taxi never goes out of style. Especially in winter. Especially when visiting London in winter with a kid in a stroller…
Things did not go exactly as planned during our recent stay in London. Granted, we did not end up grounded there between flights for an extra week due to snow as my brother did over Christmas (we missed you!). However, we managed to arrive during a Tube strike. Student demonstrations also choked the city and left us stranded on snowy street corners more than once as buses struggled to get through.
As snowflakes fell around us and winds picked up, we watched the minutes of our short vacation in London sadly tick by.
With a “large family” of five now—including a toddler and sometimes luggage—taxis are not always our best bet. Yet while we hadn’t planned to use taxis in London beyond a short jaunt from the train station with our luggage in tow, these unlikely heroes came to be for us shiny black beacons of hope that we may make it to our top picks for this visit to London after all.
What to know before taking London taxis with kids
The London taxi, it should be known, is designed to seat 5 passengers in safety belts in the main compartment (three across the back seat, plus two jump seats facing them), and is also equipped to accommodate a passenger sitting in his wheelchair in one of those spaces. Translation: you can keep your child in his stroller and load him rear-facing in a wheelchair space—and still seat up to four other members of your family. The rest of your luggage? It rides in the space up front beside the driver as there is no trunk (and ours fit!).
On a blustery London afternoon, with baby bundled in his pushchair and plastic storm shield battened down, the London taxi made for a swift, weatherproof escape. In we jumped, teeth chattering refrains of gratitude to the driver as our rear-facing stroller and tot rode in a wheelchair-equipped space along side of Daddy, and Mommy and the girls buckled three across the bench and watched London whisk by.
Considering the exchange rate and generally high costs of London for travelers, I’d braced myself for outrageous taxi fares. Happily, the journeys to and from our central hotel cost us less than I’d expected—about $15 US for our longest jaunt. While there are cheaper ways to get around London, for five people with a stroller on a short break during adverse weather, it’s hard to beat a London cab.
Before I go, I’d like to give a special shout out to “Ian,” who made our family’s arrival at Paddington Station a warm fuzzy memory, when it could have gone much differently. Many thanks.
Shelly Rivoli, author of the award-winning Travels with Baby guidebooks
PSSST! If you’re kids are getting too old for this, check out Family Travel 411.