Tips for Haggling Abroad

Nearly every foreign country has some form of an open marketplace. These markets engulf the senses with bustling locals, animals working, craftsmen building, and fresh food steaming. These places typically have a base price they offer locals and then a multiplied price they offer tourists.

It’s always great to support the local economy (and you’ll always be paying more than the locals) – but getting ripped off is something that can be avoided. Here’s 5 key tips we’ve learned along the way.

1 | The 1/2 rule

It may seem rude, but a good rule of thumb is to offer 1/2 their asking price. You do this knowing that there will be a back and forth with the aim to end around 30% off the asking price. Let’s run through a sample conversation:

You: How much?

Vender: 12 Dinar

You: Ah, a bit too high, I’ll give you 6

Vender: 8 is the best price I can do

You: I’ve seen this at a few shops, the most I could do is 7

Vender: You’re a master negotiator, you must have read Ajourneylife’s post on haggling, darn them and their tricky ways. Here’s your souvenir.

2 | Buying in multiples

Buying two drinks, for example, is an easy way to get a bargain. If a drink is $2, ask if they’ll give you 2 for $2.5. Vendors have an easier time giving you the 2nd of something for cheap once you show them know you’re committed to investing a base amount of money.

3 | It’s not offensive

When you make an offer and they seem offended it’s typically an act to try to hit your emotions. Remember it’s not offensive to get a fair market price. Start your offer low and remember you’ll be meeting in the middle later on so everyone will be happy.

4 | Don’t be afraid to walk away

If when haggling you feel that the price is not getting close to what you’d like to spend don’t feel that you are obligated to buy. There are usually similar things for sale in many shops and sometimes in the act of walking away – you may just get the offer you wanted. Say “thanks I’m going to look around” and you can always loop back later and get the item at whatever their lowest offer was.

5 | Keep it light hearted

Haggling will only be as intense as you let it be. Keep it lighthearted and joke around with the vendor. If you disarm them from “business mode” you’ll not only get a better price but might also have a fun conversation with a local. After you’ve paid them, don’t be shy to ask their favorite restaurant or if there’s something in the city you shouldn’t miss seeing.