Money is always in short supply and we backpackers need to watch our budgets like hawks. The art of haggling is an ancient and essential one if one wants to avoid being ripped off during their travelers. This, unfortunately, is a science that can only be mastered with experience obtained through much trial and error. We at Travset know this and compiled a list of ten tips to help you have a head start and avoid getting taken advantage of.
1. Know where to go
Some marketplaces are famous with the locals whilst some cater to tourists. The prices therefore differ and you’d get a better bargain by visiting the local bazaars instead of the highly inflated prices at the locations catering to tourists.
Travset tip – ask the front desk of your hotel for where the locals go for their shopping
2. Know when to haggle
Haggling in some nations is almost a national sport and great fun for both parties. It is, however, vital to know when and where you can haggle. In a flea market in Thailand, absolutely. In an upscale shop in London, not so much.
3. Research, research, research!
Do not enter the first store you encounter and make your purchase after some haggling. Visit the sellers around who sell the same and see how much they ask for. You’d be surprised at the price discrepancies for the same good with different sellers.
Haggling shouldn’t be an unpleasant affair for both parties. It is simply two individuals coming to terms with a price that is acceptable. It is, therefore, best to smile and be respectful when driving prices down.
5. Know what you’re willing to spend
Haggling is useless if you do not have the funds necessary to purchase it. First, know what you’re willing to spend.
Travset tip – let the seller make the first offer. If he does not, start haggling by taking 30% (they expect 50%!) of the price that is initially offered. You will be able to judge how this was received by the seller’s expressions.
6. Poker face
Our faces usually betray our feelings towards a deal and the vendors are masters at picking these up. It is, therefore, best to maintain a face that is humorous when haggling but devoid of much emotion when the price you were expecting is agreed on, as it might sabotage any chance of reducing the price a little further.
7. Never push beyond what’s necessary
Sure, haggling is nice and you save a few bucks. But what you might not realize is the difference your few bucks could make in the life of the vendor. It might mean more meat for dinner or extra stationery for their child’s education. Being thrifty is good, skimping however is lame.
8. Go with a local
The chances of being successful with haggling increase with a local who knows the local prices.
Travset tip – if you cannot enlist the help of a local and is traveling with another backpacker, play the good cop, bad cop routine to haggle the prices down.
9. Economies of scale
The more you buy = the more willing the vendor will be to lower his prices
10. Know when to walk away
If you find that the vendor is not willing to budge and the price offered is not what you are willing to pay, simply walk away. Some vendors then panic and start reducing the price offered further.
Travset Bonus Tip- know some local lingo before approaching vendors. A simple good day, exclamations and words of gratitude in the local language create goodwill.