Tips for Riding the NYC Subway with a Stroller

I have a real love hate relationship with the NYC subway. I’ve lived in New York City for quite a long time now and admittedly the subway map still trips me up – yes, I’ve ended up in the wrong borough before {who hasn’t?}. Not to mention, it’s blisteringly hot in the summers, dirty, and home to many interesting characters – not all of which are human. Regardless of my feelings about the subway however, it’s how the city moves and to travel without it is unavoidable at times.

I am nestled downtown on the far west side of Manhattan and I walk almost everywhere with a stroller. I hardly ever take cabs {lugging a carseat is no easy feat}, but I do jump on the subway with my daughter when I need to leave my little Battery Park City/TriBeca nook.

I have a number of tips for riding the NYC subway with a stroller that will hopefully make life a bit easier when a trek around the city isn’t possible by foot.

Tips for Riding the NYC Subway with a Stroller

Tips for Riding the NYC Subway with a Stroller

Elevators

  1. Elevators are your friend {albeit your very stinky friend}, check this site to view which subway stations have elevators {not all stations have elevators} and which ones might be temporarily out of service.
  2. Beware that certain stations only have elevators from certain levels, for example there is an elevator at 14th St. Union Square, but only from the mezzanine level to the street – not from the subway platform.
  3. Be prepared for elevators not to work – subway updates and repairs are not always happening in real time.

How to pack

  1. Packing light is crucial if you plan to travel solo on the subway with a stroller and young child – a small cross body bag that doubles as a diaper bag is my suggestion.
  2. Subway stations are insanely hot in the summer {only the new subway cars have air-conditioning} and fairly warm in the winter with the heat on – dress accordingly.
  3. I always carry hand sanitizer on the subway for the inevitable toddler pole grab {it’s going to happen}.
  4. Carry some water with you incase of delays – they happen all-the-time.

The best type of stroller to use

  1. The easiest type of stroller to maneuver through the subway is an umbrella stroller, or in other words, a collapsable one. I personally use the Maclaren Triumph, it weighs less than 14lb. and has proved to be very durable through city living and numerous travels.
  2. If you are traveling via subway with two people and there are no elevators, you can carefully walk down the stairs carrying the stroller with the child inside. If you are alone, I would recommend removing the child, especially if she is old enough to walk, and carrying the stroller with one hand. You can also fold the stroller and place it on your back using the strap – the Maclaren has a strap that runs vertical and can be used to sling the stroller over your shoulder.
  3. By way of comparison, I also own an Uppababy Vista stroller, which I love, but I would never take it on the subway – it’s entirely way to bulky and heavy at almost 30lbs.
  4. If your child is younger than 6 months and isn’t ready for the umbrella stroller, wearing your little one in a carrier is the easiest option.

How to enter the subway with a stroller

A stroller will not fit through the turnstile entryway point of the NYC subway system, instead you must do the following:

  1. With your metro card in hand, approach the window attendant of the subway station and inform him/her that you plan to enter with a stroller.
  2. He will likely instruct you to swipe the card at the nearest turnstile, turn the stile to complete the transaction, and then unlock the emergency exit door for you to enter.
  3. If there is no attendant, swipe your card at a turnstile near the emergency exit door, turn the stile and then open the door – it should be unlocked or you can ask a passerby coming out.

Tips for Riding the NYC Subway with a Stroller

Traveling solo on the NYC subway with a stroller isn’t the easiest process in the world, with unpredictable elevators and numerous staircases, it can be a bit of a workout. However, it’s the least expensive and most flexible option for getting around the bustling city – and you know what they say, practice makes perfect.

Do you have any subway tips to add?

Anna

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6 Responses to Tips for Riding the NYC Subway with a Stroller

  1. Laura February 27, 2015 at 9:06 am #

    We live in Queens with an almost-2-year-old, so know all these tips well! Sometimes our subway rides are on the long side, so I’d add: bring entertainment and snacks, just as you would for a car ride. I’ll always tuck a book and a few small toy trucks/cars for my son (his fave) to play with in his stroller. And yes–the hand sanitizer is a must!

    • Anna Julien February 27, 2015 at 9:25 am #

      Laura, thanks for the additional tips – you are totally right about the snacks and entertainment. Can’t get enough of the hand sanitizer 🙂

  2. john September 15, 2015 at 9:11 am #

    how about taking precious out of stroller and carry him or her and do not try to squeeze on crowded trains,people who work and pay their fares shouldnt have to struggle for you.you are not special.use the last cars.have consideration for people whpo are tired and work all day.also if you have 3 children have them offer seats instead of hogging them.oh and pay your fare for your child when he or she is over 44 inches

    • Anna Julien September 16, 2015 at 12:13 pm #

      Thanks for the feedback, a lot of people who travel with children on the subway do work all day and need to transport their kids to schools or daycares around the city. I never suggested not paying a fare for a child, or rushing onto a crowded train – in fact, I suggest trying to find a time of day that isn’t so crowed to make it easier for lugging a stroller.

  3. Kendra September 21, 2015 at 8:22 pm #

    Thank you so much for the helpful tips. I am traveling to New York City in two weeks with a three year old and two year old.

    • Anna Julien September 25, 2015 at 12:55 pm #

      Good luck, Kendra! You will do great, enjoy the city!

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