Explore and haggle in local markets around the world
Everyone loves getting deals. Heck, even a deal on something you don't really want or need... getting it cheaper is just the tip of the iceberg when traveling. Not only are you spending travel money when shopping, you never know if the prices are jacked up because you're a tourist or not. Especially if you're a student or volunteer, it becomes a necessity to get the best possible price.
According to economic studies, many people are unwilling to haggle over the price of anything. The art of haggling is definitely not for the faint of heart. It takes some real smarts to be able to get a merchant down on their prices, and one thing is for certain - it's a rush getting something cheap!
- Always ask for a lower price no matter where you are or what you want. It can't hurt to bargain hunt or look for a discount.
- If you see something you really want and the sales person won't even discuss a lower price - don't hesitate to walk out if the merchant won't bargain with you. They're likely to come around.
- Lay low - in other words don't show emotion or allow the sales person to see your reaction to something you really want. Wear a poker face when deciding to start haggling.
- Take your time and be picky. Look the item over and over as if something is wrong with it, or you're trying to decide if you really want it, or not.
- Don't sweat or get angry when the negotiations get heated or frustrating. Keep your cool and be courteous. Offer another alternative, such as 2 for his price, or you will find it elsewhere, cheaper.
- Offer cash for a better price, and depending on the item, makes it sweeter by telling them you'll throw in a few other items as well. If what you want is a bit pricey, this should make the marketer want to bargain, especially if you have cash. Remember that cash saves them money - because credit cards charge fees, and payment is delayed, where cash is immediate and can almost always be kept off the books. They love cash. Make sure that cash is in their currency though!
Learn bartering etiquette
And Don't Forget...
When you go shopping for anything, know the market in that country. You can't very well bargain if the merchant already has the lowest possible price he can offer.
Check for discounts in the store, and haggle on those items. Sale items usually mean they need to be moved for newer items.
Know your exchange rates and foreign currency. There is nothing worse than getting someone to see your side of things, only to be wrong with the price, not have enough money with you - and the amount due is wrong due to math errors.
And last but not least, know what countries are the best for bargaining. Some cultures, such as Saudis or Belgians expect it, and it earns respect in the Middle East, but try to haggle for food in Southeast Asia and you can rest assured the merchant will be insulted. Make sure you know the culture and the custom in the country you are visiting to avoid serious embarrassment or worse, insult.
Some countries, such as the underdeveloped areas of Africa and specific parts of Asia, the less fortunate people offering their meager wares should be obvious that bargain hunting and haggling would be ridiculous. Especially when the price is already so low and most likely the merchant is counting on every dime to feed his family. Using discretion in situations such as this is essential.
Explore markets of China
And remember, certain countries offer some better deals. Such as in the Far East, electronics and jewelry is always highly marked up, so the sales person can haggle with that much of a mark-up.
Be smart, be nice and walk away when they're not willing to bargain, and your trip could land you some pretty nice deals.
Have you haggled while abroad? While many people like to get the best deal, bargaining isn't for everyone. What experience with haggling do you have? What's the best thing you got haggling?