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How to survive a trip to IKEA

Well it's nearly the weekend - how many of you are thinking about a trip to IKEA?!

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Even though a trip to IKEA is one of my favourite things in the world it isn't for everyone. My mother refuses to go. She has had too many experiences of wandering around, finally choosing what she wants only to get to the overwhelming market hall only to find that the product she was looking for has sold out. Sheesh. 

But IKEA is a leader in affordable, modern design and that alone is enough of a reason to still try and brave it now and then. And today, for those who are like my mother (and my husband, and half the people I know!) I will give you 5 tips to ensure your next trip to IKEA is one filled with satisfaction, rather than frustration.  

1. Go on your own

Let's face it, heaps of people really don't like IKEA. My husband finds it bad enough that I return with flat pack furniture that he has to put together, without having to also endure the shop itself. Although it's my idea of heaven to slowly wander around and look at the way the spaces have been designed, the reality is that most people I know have absolutely zero interest. So tip number 1 is don't drag people there who really don't want to go.

Kids fall into the same basket. I have seen far too many parents trying to drag young children around IKEA. Most are thousands of kms long and if you're a little person it's like a marathon. It's a sure fire way to ensure you leave with nothing but a stressed family. 

If you really have no option than to take the kids, and have kids aged 3-10 (who are toilet trained), make use of the free play centres. My eldest likes it (enough) in there to give me an hour of peace and quiet to get my shopping done. But avoid school holidays, rainy days and weekends for the play centres. You will wait in line for hours for a spot. I find the best times to go are weekdays after school or very, very sunny days when most sensible people are outdoors!

2. Don't go during peak times

Even I, a lover of IKEA, would never step foot in there on a weekend between 10am and 5pm. You won't get a car spot, you'll wait in line for hours in the checkout and it will be packed full of people. 

If I can, I tend to do go straight after I drop the kids at school on a weekday. I always park as close to the Exit (not the entrance) as I can get. This is where I'll be coming out with my boxes and means I won't have far to wheel the trolley. If you work or can't manage that then don't forget IKEA is open late every day. Check the website for your local store's hours - but I have been there at night and it is completely empty. You'll be in and out super fast - if you follow my next tips that is! 

3. Check the website before you go

IKEA's full range can be found on their website - with lots of design and inspiration images as well. They also list stock levels and even location in the market hall, so you can make a note of all of this before you go. No more arriving and finding out the thing you wanted isn't in stock. So before you head there - make a list, set a budget, check stock and use their catalogue for inspiration 

4. Before you pay...edit your trolley!

IKEA are very, very good subliminal marketers and they have ways to trap you into putting far more in your trolley than you ever intended to purchase. There's a standing joke in my house becuase EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I go to IKEA I come home with a pack of 100 serviettes. I think we might have about 400 waiting to be used. I just always put them in my trolley in case we ever have a serviette emergency. I also end up with other random things - not to mention all the ice cube trays and other bits and pieces at the exit lines.

So make sure you avoid my error and do a really hard edit of your trolley before you pay. If you are like me you will put back half the things you had in there (and save yourself some $$ while you're at it!) 

5. Speed up your trip by going in the exit

IKEA is a shopping Mecca. The long walk through all the beautifully designed spaces is there for a reason - they want to make you feel like you have to have everything you see (even though you probably don't need many of them!). If you're going for inspiration and a cheap hot dog from the food hall, then this is great! But if you know what you want and have done your research before you go, save yourself some time and come in at the exit gates. You will find yourself right in the market hall and will avoid being trapped into buying things you really don't want or need.

Hopefully these tips will help you enjoy (rather than endure) your next trip to IKEA. Do you have any other tips to share??

Have a great day!  

Clare x

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