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Learn from my Metro experience

Do you have a plan for what to do if you get separated from your group/spouse/children while riding the Metro (or other subway system with automated doors that shut)? My kids and I have traveled a few times on the Metro before. The other day we traveled separately for the first time. Imagine my surprise - horror - as I got cut off from them while entering and the woman in front of me stopped right after steping in and blocked the entrance as the doors started closing. Those doors don't stop for your arm! Now, my situation wasn't dire as my children speak French, my 11yo knew where we were going (our contingency had always been get off at the next stop), my kids all know my cell phone # and they were with my parents (even though my parents had no clue where we were going as I was their tour guide). But it really got me thinking as I never thought it would be that easy to get separated. I also realized we didn't have a plan for what to do if one or more of the kids got left behind, and now we do. So I hope everyone learns from this that it is easy to get separated, even if you're an "experienced" Metro rider you need to have contingencies for those "what ifs" that can actually happen!

Posted by
629 posts

Good info, I would guess that very few people have any plans in place until after something like this has actually happened to them. This could be added to trip prep and discussed at home. We're going to learn from your incident. Thank you!

Posted by
8 posts

You might want to be careful Dina. I have just been reported and my message removed for not asking a question that requires an answer. In fact answering this non question is also a violation. Big brother, or rather his little helpers, are watching! I was told I should have put my message on Graffiti Wall. Sad but true.

Posted by
331 posts

I suggest personal replies to avoid 'complications'

Posted by
417 posts

Very good to bring up. My family has always said that if we get separated in such a situation, to get off at the next station and wait on the platform. It has happened once, but luckily we had already made this plan.

Posted by
3259 posts

Your experience is a good one to share Dina. My husband and I got separated in the Metro in Madrid in May. Our plan has been to go back to our hotel if we get separated. This time, we didn't have a hotel as we weren't staying in Madrid but were traveling to Toledo. Luckily, we found each other at the next stop. It's frightening to realize that your travel partner isn't with you. Having a plan for various contingencies, reviewing it at the beginning of each trip, and keeping calm if you get separated is the best course of action.

Posted by
989 posts

Actually the first line is a question? Do you have a plan?

Posted by
8 posts

Unfortunately it appears that it has to be a question about travel that requires an answer. Not my rules. I think it's a shame because some interesting topics would not be covered, like the one above and they are not easy to find on the Graffiti Wall. And no..I am not going to do anything, why on earth would I want to do that?

Posted by
989 posts

LOL - Jack - I wasn't asking YOU if you had a plan - I was just restating the part of the OP that was the question. I should have put that line in quotes so my intent was clear. If you took this as a question to you - I cam see why it would seem like a very queer question !!!

Posted by
8 posts

I did think it an odd question, but misunderstanding cleared up. Thank you

Posted by
1064 posts

From your experience, it seems like multiple cellphones are a good idea for a group. Individual phones might not work for a large group, but a working phone for each person definitely makes sense for a couple. I have had a global phone for a couple of years and my wife now wants one for herself for our next trip. It is not a concern for me, but she is afraid of getting separated in a country where she does not speak the language and doesn't know her way around. Your experience reinforces the same point she has been making. Anyway, I am glad things worked our for you. Your question gets buried by the rest of your message, but I appreciate your input.

Posted by
1136 posts

I agree, just got back from Italy and my friend and I didn't have a plan. I walked into the metro and didn't realize the doors were shutting right behind me, I heard her scream my name and for some weird reason, the doors opened! There was a local next to her trying to get in so maybe she got the doors open. Anyway, after that we came up with the plan to get off at the next stop and wait for the other person. It really is a great idea to come up with this before it happens though!

Posted by
2788 posts

As an answer to Dina's question about having a plan, my wife and I did not have a plan on our first trip to Europe years ago. Sure enough we got separated in Amsterdam. We both ended up going back to our hotel in Haarlem thank goodness. You can not imagine how much of a panic I was in. We now always have a plan than is updated when necessary.

Posted by
977 posts

Your post brought back vivid memories. This almost happened to us on the Paris Metro last month. My dear husband, sometimes takes a bit of time to make a decision. Our train pulled up, I was confident it was the right one, I hopped on. He was sizing up the situation and had to make a desperate dive through the doors which were closing on his arm. A classic case of "He who hesitates is Lost" and in this case, nearly misses the train! Fortunately he made it, but this incident made us realise we needed a back-up plan. We decided as you have done whoever is on the train, gets off at the next station and wait for the stranded partner.

Posted by
9041 posts

Actually, this is exactly the right kind of question for the Helpline. I think it is good enough to be made a "Question of the Month", minus the complaints about it. Not sure why some of you think that it isn't a good question. If your own thread was removed, then perhaps it was because the webmaster felt it didn't belong here or because too many responses were making the thread deteriorate into unacceptable areas. There are no moderators on the Helpline, but anyone can report a thread or post if they find it offensive. If the webmaster agrees, it gets deleted. So, on to the Question at hand: What I do with groups, is stand in the door and block it until everyone gets on. Most subway doors have light sensors, so as long as someone is standing there, right inside the door or even blocking the door, it won't even begin to close. Make someone the designated "door holder" when you are traveling in a group. Otherwise, it can just be an understanding what you will do, either all get off at the next stop and wait or just continue on to your next destination and then wait. Kind of depends on who is holding the tickets though.

Posted by
1633 posts

On our most recent trip (just returned), I lost my husband twice. Normally, that would not be a problem, however, in Europe I started to panic (go figure). A plan is a good thing, if you can remember what the plan is. I tried to call his cell phone from a pay phone when I lost him several years ago. Even with the overseas operator helping me, I was not able to get through to him. Thanks for bringing up the question.

Posted by
893 posts

Purnima - I understand your concerns. Luckily you don't have more kids than hands LOL! Will you have a cell phone while you are there? If so, you can put a tag on a shoe or a sticker on a sleeve or even get "dog tags" made at Walgreens with your name and that # on it. Teach your children to show it to a female and say the words, "Je suis perdue" (I am lost) Have you seen the Peg Perego Pliko strollers with the step on the back that an older child can stand on? Just realize that not all metro stations have elevators, and there are a lot of curbs and stairs and obstacles that can make it a bit more challenging to push a stroller around. I think it will probably be good that your boys are used to subways and a large city. They might not be as excited and hyper as my kids were the first time we hit Paris!

Posted by
32265 posts

Dina, Your Post was a question (and a valid one), so I'm not sure why anyone would perceive a problem with it? In that particular situation, one method would be to get the group together for a minute or so when you first arrive at each Metro station. Using the charts on the wall, review the route and the destination station. Make it clear that if anyone gets separated, those that arrive at the destination first will wait for those that missed the train (keeping in mind that they may have to wait for five minutes or more). Cheers!

Posted by
893 posts

Jo (or anyone who can answer) - Do you know if the "double door" Metro lines have the light sensors? Those are the ones where there's glass and doors keeping you off the tracks + the doors of the actual trains. It didn't seem like you could keep those outer doors open. (And the double doors make it almost soundproof when you're trying to yell something through them!) Can't remember who commented about cell phones for everyone in the group, but I don't think that's necessary. Just make sure everyone knows or carries the number of the cell phone in your group. I would think you'd be able to find someone who would place a call for you if you were lost/separated. I've taught my kids that they should ask a mom or other female if they can call me if we're separated. I know I'd be willing to help someone. I wouldn't hand over my phone, but would make the call for them.

Posted by
23465 posts

Our plan was always little more complicated and it developed from the plan we had when skiing with the kids before cell phones and FRS. For the kids, they always had a card from the hotel and a 20E note. Absolutely fall back plan -- Take a taxi to the hotel. Second, for the subway,get off at the next stop and wait. If we became separated on the street, in a museum, park, etc., simply return to the last point when everyone was together. In all the years we travel the system work very well for the separation in museums, etc. And one in a subway but never tested for the taxi. The most scary event we ever had was an elevator in a large department store. The door opened and one of the boys quickly stepped in but we stepped back to allow others off when the doors suddenly and quickly closed. After a fairly long wait the elevator returned and he was there. He was never first on the elevator again.

Posted by
56 posts

This is a very valid question and a very helpful thread, so I would be shocked if the "police" removed it. I am traveling with my two toddlers next week and am planning to take the Metro everywhere. My boys are three and five, my older one has special needs and I am quite terrified about the whole prospect of getting separated. We live near New York city and the kids are used to the subway there. However, New Yorkers are very nice when it comes to young children and the doors do stop for a body part. I have to come up with a plan, perhaps strollers for both? The other maybe just to walk everywhere and stay local.

Posted by
331 posts

Although I think this post is of great interest and of help it should be on the graffiti wall according to the webmaster because it is not asking for advice on travel it is giving advice and that is what the graffiti wall is for. I had a post pulled and was told by him that it belonged on graffiti wall, ie: nothing wrong with it's content but it was pulled because other people's responses to it were turning nasty and were inappropriate. I personally find it a shame because it is more difficult to access the information you want on graffiti wall. I think provided people don't get too het up about things and go around reporting people then we should all be able to get along. I am sorry Dina for 'barging in' on your post but I think it needs saying.

Posted by
23465 posts

Put a cork in Shoni. Your post is more out of line than any of the others on this subject. Subject is perfectly appropriate.

Posted by
1878 posts

This is a very good question.. because it's very easy to get separated in major palaces, museums, too -- not just the metro. Mostly we do not have a plan, and we should. Especially if it's your kids you are losing track of..

Posted by
56 posts

Dina, Your advice is great. We may move there from the US and this is a trial run.
Thanks again.

Posted by
990 posts

I had a similar situation once in the London Underground. I had taken my elderly parents to London for their first international trip to celebrate their fiftieth annniversary. We were enroute to the Tower of London via the Tube, and I got on but they were a bit slower, and, wham, the doors closed behind me. I could see the look of panic on their facesthey weren't carrying any money because, as my dad said, "It's confusing! You take care of it!" and I doubted that they could get to the right station on their own. So, frantically, I pantomimed to them 'Stay right there!' Got off at the next stop and went right back to the original stop to find my parents being taken care of by a lovely British woman who explained that she saw what had happened and persuaded them to stay right where they were and reassured them that I'd be right back in a jiffy. She could see they were confused and upset and so she skipped her own connection to stay with them till I got back. What a nice ending to what could have been a disastrous story!

Posted by
4411 posts

Dina, I was going to suggest you also post this helpful travel topic-for-discussion to the Graffiti Wall - until I started looking at the categories. "Most Embarrassing Moment"? Not necesarily. "Adventure Travel"? Maybe; have you ever been caught by those Paris metro doors? It hurts like a @&$"*%#!!! Believe the Bunny Posters in the metro - it DOES pinch, and HARD! Perhaps "Worst Tourist Traps"? (get it?!? heh-heh) I don't see any non-archived topic heading I'd put this under...and that's too bad because in a few days this thread will roll off into oblivion...