Essential Tips for Haggling as a Traveler

Photo by Atharva Tulsi on Unsplash

We’ve all seen examples of haggling in movies. You know the scenes—the protagonist visits an unfamiliar land and engages in a humorous negotiation over the price of some trinket, leaving the market victorious after just a few minutes. In real life, however, haggling tends to be less straightforward and downright intimidating if you don’t know what you’re doing. Fortunately, learning the art of how and when to haggle doesn’t have to be complicated. Read on for some essential tips.

Know the Local Customs

Before you can put your bargaining skills to the test, it’s essential to understand whether haggling is welcome in your destination in the first place. In some locations, such as outdoor markets in the Middle East, bargaining is typically expected, while in others, like high-end boutiques in Europe, it might be considered inappropriate. Research local customs before you go to gauge the appropriate level of negotiation, and if you do decide to haggle, always do so with a respectful attitude.

Be Patient

The whole point of haggling is to get the best possible deal, so start the process by offering a price significantly lower than what you’re actually willing to pay. This creates room for negotiation and allows the vendor to meet you halfway, but patience is key—don’t be afraid to engage in friendly banter and build rapport. Merchants are most likely to give fair prices to customers who take the time to understand the value of the items they want to purchase.

Ask for Package Deals 

Whether you need to buy souvenirs for loved ones back home or are just in the mood to treat yourself, purchasing several items at once can be a great leverage point for striking a better deal. First, negotiate a price for the most expensive item you’d like to buy. Once you’ve worked that out with the vendor, express mild interest in additional items and see if they make an offer. If they don’t, you can try asking for a discount directly.