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For anyone that doesn’t know what Trago Mills is it’s essentially a massive discount complex in the South West complete with a family fun park. I’m trying to think of another place to compare it to but I’m struggling with that one.
It’s a pretty quirky place with its own political agenda. Are you intrigued yet?
Our local one is the Newton Abbot one so I’ll be focusing on that although some of the tips should apply to the other stores too. There are 3 Trago Mills stores in total. One in Newton Abbot, one in Liskeard and one in Falmouth.
Parking at Trago is interesting! Picture a massive expanse of concrete with no lines, no bays and no road markings. Now throw in around 512,000 tourists that have no idea what they are doing and in a nutshell, you have parking pandemonium!
The best option with the Newton Abbot Trago is to completely disregard the first car park and head straight to the back one. Here you at least have a fair stab at getting a spot. Be prepared to get blocked in though which happens on a daily basis. I once saw a person that had just dumped their car right in the middle of the exit. Yes, some people are that stupid!
Alternatively, if you don’t mind walking a bit you could be naughty and park in the Co-op car park and walk over but I didn’t tell you that. If you are a keen walker and you don’t plan on buying anything too heavy you can also park on the road in the village Liverton and cut through on the public footpath. This walk takes us about 5-10 minutes and as an added bonus you don’t get caught up in all the traffic trying to get in and out of Trago.
The only way to describe the inside of Trago is a labyrinth; This definition pretty much sums it up…. ‘a complicated irregular network of passages or paths in which it is difficult to find one’s way’. It’s also a bit like the Bermuda triangle as in the minute you step through the big glass doors you lose all connection to the outside world.
No mobile signal and no wifi so if you get separated from your loved ones you are on your own! Probably best to organise a designated meeting point for when you lose people, which you will oh and don’t bother to stop and ask for directions from a member of staff as I’m pretty sure they don’t have a clue where they are either.
We had some friends staying with us a little while ago and took them for the ‘Trago experience’ and I still don’t think they’ve quite recovered from it. You only have to mention the word Trago and their eyes start twitching.
If you are a local then the trick is to know what you are going in for and head for that section. If you are a tourist then that’s not so easy. When it comes to navigating your way around it is best to stick to the smaller aisles and learn where the cut-throughs are.
You have the wider main aisles that are throughout the store, these get clogged up, with people stopping to look at something, have a chat, scratch their arse etc. What many people don’t realize is that you don’t have to stick to the wide aisles.
There are offshoots that filter through to the different sections. Use these to your advantage. We personally now have this down to a fine art. Please note that this doesn’t apply to the Falmouth store, there is no hope for that one!
Once you have located the items you want and found lost loved ones it is time to pay which in itself provides a whole new set of problems. The queues can be horrendous, as in grab a snack you’re going to be here a while!
Tip: take your items to the garden centre tills instead, as a rule, these are generally less busy and as an added bonus if you have a lot of heavy items you can leave your trolley there, go back to your car and drive around and collect said items.
After what you have just endured you are going to need refreshments so time to head back outside. By the way, the locals take great pleasure in watching the tourist emerge from the abyss, squinting into the daylight, armed full of goodies with a look of what the f**k just happened to me!
There are plenty of places to stop for food at Trago. If you are on a tight budget pack a picnic, if you want a budget-friendly hot meal then head to the restaurant complex and visit the Staple Hill Servery where you get get a nice meal at a very low price. For light lunches head to the outside independent stalls.
I’m going to share a little secret with you about the pasties at Trago Mills, don’t buy the ones at the main complex. You will queue for hours, probably get stung by a wasp while you’re waiting and end up with a pasty filled with mush.
The best pasties at Trago can be found at the petrol garage. They have one of those upright stalls by the till buy those ones. Not only are they a quarter of the price of the Warrens ones, they are uber tasty and the queue will be a lot shorter! These pasties can also be bought in the main restaurant too.
The fun park works on a pay as you go basis or alternatively you can purchase an all-day fun card which is very reasonably priced at £4.99 per person and if you buy 3 you get the 4th free! These passes give you unlimited entry on the mini steam railway, the model railway and slide complex plus one go on 7 other rides. They also have junior tickets available for anyone up to 8 years old which cost £3.99 per child.
If you are doing the pay as you go option then one of the best value for money options is the Fun Dungeon which costs 2 tokens per child. (1 token costs 50p) So per child, it will costs you £1 and they get to play for a full hour.
Free Day Out with Little Ones
If you after a free day with little ones then Trago is a good place to go although you have to set the rules from the start with the kiddies, as in we are not paying for anything! There are quite a few free things that you can do at Trago, for example, the play parks of which there are two. One is intended for younger children and the other slightly older.
You can also visit the free Theden Animal Park located by the back car park. Here you’ll see pigs, rabbits, goats, birds and ducks. If you go inside the store you can also visit the pet department where you’ll find more rabbits, birds, guinea pigs, fish and a few reptiles.
Make sure you pack a picnic too as there are plenty of picnic benches scattered around. At Christmas, you also get the added bonus of the free elves workshop located in the garden centre.
On your way out make sure to fill your car up with fuel. Trago Mills is the cheapest garage by far in the area. It’s also the only garage we know of where the diesel is cheaper than unleaded. Oh and don’t forget to buy your pasties.
If you make it out alive, with everyone that you went in with and didn’t get your pasty stolen by a peacock you’ve done well my friend!