Depending on where you travel, haggling is a customary (and expected) part of a country’s culture. If you visit China, Morocco, Turkey or Egypt, you’ll be expected to bargain for items you want to buy. In many countries, vendors view bargaining as an important and enjoyable way to connect with customers. If you’re in Turkey or Morocco, it’s typical for vendors to invite you in to drink sweetened mint tea before beginning the bargaining process.
In order not to insult the local vendors (and to save yourself some dosh) here are some tips for bargaining like a pro on holiday.
1. Keep it fun
It’s important to engage politely and smile at the vendor. Bargaining should be a fun experience for both parties. In Indonesia, for instance, keeping a smile on your face is essential to keeping the transaction going, according to the locals. It’s a bit like flirting, so use your charms and sense of humour. At the end of the day, both you and the vendor should walk away with a win and feeling good.
2. Give a reason for a discount
Giving the vendor a convincing reason why they should lower the price will go a long way. A reason might include seeing the item cheaper elsewhere or that you’re buying a few items from them. If you’re really confident in your haggling abilities, you might also try pointing out any flaws or defects. Just make sure that you don’t insult the seller.
3. Know what the item’s worth
If you’re at a market, chances are you’ll find the item that you love at several different stalls, often for varying prices. Use this to your advantage. If you saw the same scarf two stalls down for a dollar less, include this in your haggling ammunition with the seller and get them to drop the price by two dollars.
4. Don’t haggle unless you want to buy
Make sure not to approach the vendor until you’re ready to buy. Haggling is as much a part of the transaction as the money changing hands. Also, wear your best poker face and don’t act too interested – ask the price of a few items, not just the one that you want.
5. Know when it’s time to walk away
No matter where you are and what you’re buying, the only true way to score the lowest price is to walk away. If the vendor doesn’t agree to your final price (make sure you have a limit), then it’s time to walk away. If you’ve managed to keep the interaction light and respectful, the vendor should call you back and agree to your final price. If not, you win some, you lose some. It’s all supposed to be fun, anyway.
Do you have any tips or stories about bargaining on holiday?