Here are my best tips on how to survive rush hour in the Netherlands
So you’re on your way to and from work, university, or any other event and it’s rush hour in the Netherlands, how are you going to cope?
Admittedly, the Netherlands can be a lot better than some other countries when it comes to rush hour (if being squashed against a train door is anything to go by anyway).
Rush hour in the Netherlands: Commuting on the metro
You’ve reached your metro station and you realise you have to top up your metro card. It seems that every single person in the station is out of cash too. You end up queuing for ages, missing the metro you wanted and then stressing out over getting to your stop in time. The person in front is bound to have their card declined because they’ve somehow forgot their pin, even though they use their card every single morning. Anything to stall you further.
TIP: It may seem obvious, but top up your metro card in advance. I top up the amount that I need on my OV Chipcard at the end of my last day at work, for the whole of the next week. This way I don’t have to worry about a panic top-up.
You’re on the platform now (stress-free because you’ve already topped up ;)) and it’s absolutely heaving. Everyone is standing everywhere and once the metro has arrived it’s like being in a cattle market. You barely even make it on the metro.
TIP: It’s called rush HOUR for a reason. The rush lasts longer than an hour, but the busiest time lasts for an hour. If possible it may be worth being an early bird and taking the metro a bit earlier than usual. Sometimes even a metro or two before could be the difference between getting squashed to death or having a nice seat to sit in.
If not, try and position yourself close to the door and get right in the front. That way when the metro comes, you’ll have first dibs on the space.
Rush hour in the Netherlands: Commuting by car
It says it takes 20 minutes to get drive to your destination when you looked the night before. Add 5-10 minutes and you think you’re golden. Not the case at all. 20 minutes in and you’ve barely made it through 3 sets of traffic lights. You’re so stressed as you’re going to be late. Nobody in the Netherlands likes a late shower.
TIP: Again, it might seem obvious but plan ahead. Is it going to be one of those stormy days again when nobody has the guts to cycle through it? Is an event taking place where it might be busy? Are there roadworks everywhere like always? Like this week, not many dutchies have the courage to cycle through the storms (and they’d be mad to), so realistically more people are going to be driving, so leave in good time (not 5 minutes earlier, ahem).
Rush hour in the Netherlands:
Commuting by train
You can’t even see the train coming (is this even a train station or a cattle market?), and you can’t move on the platform. About 6 million people are getting off the train (the train that you hadn’t even noticed had reached the station) and they are flooding the escalators. You reach the doors of the train and you realise that everybody is standing in the corridor. There MUST be a seat you think to yourself. So you frantically walk up and down the carriages trying to find a spare seat (and yes that includes the ‘spare’ seat that people put their precious coats and bags on). There is nothing. This results in you having to either stand outside the smelly toilet or against the train doors, so that whenever the train halts, you feel like you’re going to fall out of the train somehow. To make things somehow even worse, the person next to you smells sweaty and the person on the other side is blasting music of their ears. Is this really how you want to start your day?
TIP: Like I said with the metro post, it’s called rush HOUR for a reason. Don’t get me wrong, it’s going to be really busy for a few hours, but if you time it right, you may just be able to avoid the dreaded train corridor experience.
Also trains are pretty frequent here. At rush hour period, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a train to your destination every 10-15 minutes. So, say you have 3 minutes till the train leaves – naturally you’d try and catch it so you don’t have to wait (it’s only a 15-minute wait guys). The tip is to arrive at the platform where the 2nd train to that destination will be. Everyone will be trying to get the other train at this point, so you have first dibs on the platform space. That way you can assign your dominance before anyone else and get to the front of the platform. Then you can try and judge where the train will stop so you are directly opposite the train door (is it sad that I actually do this?) Don’t wait for anybody (that’s the golden rule) and don’t jump the whistle either, or you might get fined.
Rush hour in the Netherlands: Commuting on your bike
It’s the Dutchest way to commute, but is it the least stressful?
It is a lovely sunny day, the tulips are out, it’s lovely a warm – what a wonderful cycle that is. Unfortunately, this is a rarity at times. This video accurately shows the state of the weather recently.
So, the weather is windy and stormy. You know if you set foot out of that door, you’re going to be pushed right off the cycle path (like the poor souls you’ve just seen). You’re going to be late, you’re going to turn up looking like you’d been dragged through a hedge backwards.
TIP: Just don’t even go there. I know at you’d love me to give you a tip on how to never part with your beloved bike, but I just can’t. If you’re not Dutch, then just leave it to the professionals. Unless you want a YouTube debut that is 😉
I hope this guide got you on your way to surviving rush hour in the Netherlands. Good luck!