A shopping trip can be one of two things: fun or stressful. Shopping is usually fun when you have organised to spend a day with friends, browsing clothes shops and grabbing some lunch in a nice restaurant. It is more likely to be stressful if you are under pressure to find an outfit or gift, or you have no choice but to drag the kids along. I for one have a lot of friends who freak out about city center shopping, and avoid it like the plague!
Here are some tips to help reduce your stress levels if the latter applies.
Find Suitable Parking
Parking is one of the biggest stressors when it comes to a city centre shopping trip. On a busy Saturday, it is easy to spend an hour or more driving round fruitlessly, hunting for an elusive parking space. The problem is that car parks are not always in the most convenient locations, and those that are – i.e. car parks within shopping centres – are often full. To prevent this problem from ruining your day, plan where you are going to park in advance. Look for a car park online (click here for a useful website that shows available car parking spaces) and program your Satnav the night before. That way you can drive straight there and not waste time driving around in circles.
Use Public Transport
If you can’t bear the thought of driving into the city for a shopping trip, use public transport instead. Buses and trains deposit you right in the city centre, so you only have a short walk to the nearest shops. On the downside, using public transport limits you to the number of bags you can carry, so if you are a keen shopper, the journey home might be difficult. City Mapper is an excellent tool for planning public transport trips.
Use Google Maps
Google Maps makes life much easier when shopping in a city centre. Unless you know the area like the back of your hand, it won’t be easy working out where your favourite shops are. City centre shopping centres are easier to navigate because they usually have helpful maps at key intersections. On the high street, it can be trickier. Use Google Maps to help you figure out where important shops are, or to locate the nearest public convenience. The Google Maps app will guide you to your chosen destination by the shortest or fastest route. Just be careful your battery is not too low, as using any GPS app sucks battery juice very fast.
Avoid the Crowds
Try to avoid shopping in city centres at peak times, i.e. weekends and holidays. Instead, go shopping in the week – Mondays tend to be quiet – or in the evening if the shops are open late.
Plan Refreshment Breaks
Shopping is thirsty work, so take a break for coffee after a couple of hours. Nothing beats a nice lunch in one of the cities plush bars or eateries, and it’s the perfect place to have a much needed catch up! For coffee breaks, try to stay away from big chain coffee shops and look for a small, artisan coffee shop instead. They have so much more character!
Shopping doesn’t have to be stressful if you are organised, but if you decide to drag your other half along for the ride, make sure you limit the trip to around an hour to avoid complaints. Men and shopping just don’t go hand in hand, and probably never will!