Arriving in London is itself a very overwhelming experience, but then you have to try and navigate through the transport system that is the Tube. It's an intimidating place as 99% of those around you seem to know exactly what they're doing and the fact that you have stopped in their way and dared to try and analyse a map is only making you feel extremely unpopular. I lived in London for a year so I am by no means an expert, but I did learn a few tricks to help get me through.
1. Purchase an Oyster card. These are prepaid cards that save you so much money. It also saves you the hassle of trying to type in a station or work out which zone you want to go to! All you do is scan the card over the reader and it even tells you how much you have left. You can top them up whenever.
2. Know where you are going. Try to work your route out before you head down the stairs into the vast tunnels of the tube. Familiarising yourself with the colours of the tube lines will help immensely. 3. Wear comfy shoes. Even though it's a transport system. you still end up doing an enormous amount of walking. One of my friends actually proposed that the tube was in fact just a myth and that you walk up, down, round and round, you get on the train, it shuffles you around and spits you out another door. You then walk up, down, round and round and exit somewhere else! 4. Be prepared. If you're travelling with children use a carrier or a lightweight folding buggy. Some stations have lifts some do not so be prepared for quick hop on and hop offs. Oh, and grip small children tightly! 5. Be aware. Keep an eye on your belongings as the Tube can get incredibly busy.
The Tube often gets bad press for muggings and is still recovering from the bombings, but it is a fantastic transport system full of all the old traditional charm of Britain. As you stand on the platform, you can imagine those huddled during the air raids of WW2 and the spirit of the Londoners through the Blitz. Be smart, plan before you go and if in doubt ASK, if only to be amazed by the knowledge of Londoners who appear to know every line and every stop!