One of the things that will help you to save money during your travels is haggling or bargaining. But how to haggle? What is the secret to haggling success? We will give you 10 practical tips to improve your haggling skills!
As you guys may know I mostly traveled in Asia: the best spot to test your haggling skills. However, haggling is almost everywhere possible. You can bargain for your tours, souvenirs and even for accommodation! Here are some basic tips and tricks on ‘How to haggle’!
“I feel the adrenaline running through my body. Tension rises. “I have to be strong now and not falter…” I say to myself. “Do not falter…” A tall guy stands before me with his head down. You can tell he is thinking. After a while he slowly looks up to me: “7 USD, my final offer.”
How to haggle – the best tips!
Don’t be shy, give it a try
Haggling may feel a bit uncomfortable at the beginning. How do I haggle? Where do I haggle? Should I haggle? But don’t worry. In many countries it is common practice and sometimes part of the culture. Haggling is something that you will have to do more often to get a hang of it. Practice is the key. So don’t be shy, give it try!
Find out what your item approximately costs by asking around at a few shops. And if the item is something you can also buy at a local supermarket, don’t forget to check there. In China they sold mini Chinese calligraphy sets at many of the souvenir stands. However, when I went to the writing department of a large Chinese supermarket I found the exact same calligraphy sets for about 10% of the tourist asking price. You can also ask a local (e.g. a someone from your hostel) for a rough estimate.
The nonchalance act
Show your interest for more items in the shop, and try not to put too much attention to your ‘selected item’. Put on your best poker face. If you bargain for accommodation, don’t be too enthusiast about the room, just stay neutral (or maybe even point out the flaws).
The ‘This is all I have trick’
Don’t show off with big fat banknotes. Sometimes, it is useful to get out your wallet though (at the end of the bargaining) to show you’re really interested and eager to close the deal. You can also show some small bills and say: ‘This is all I have…’.
The walk-away move
Who doesn’t know the walk-away trick? Act uninterested and slowly walk-away. When the shop-owner calls you back you know there is a good chance you can close the deal. If not, you may have aimed too high.
Respect your ‘haggling competitor’
Remember that the person you’re bargain with has a boss or maybe a family and the matching responsibilities. Don’t push it too far and try to create a win-win situation.
Learn the language
It’s very useful to learn some basic sentences and counting in the local language. By (partly) haggling in the local language you will look more informed and furthermore, the shop-owner often will appreciate your effort.
Be happy once you closed a deal
It’s temping to think: Ow, maybe I could have gone lower. Don’t do this! Once you’ve closed a deal be happy with it! Maybe you’ve paid a bit too much (or more than the local price), but it doesn’t matter. You have your item and the vendor has some profit.
A deal is a deal
It is not courteous to back off a deal after you have agreed on a price (of course there are exceptions). A deal is a deal. Both the vendor and the seller should stick to it.
Smile. Smile. And smile
Most important tip: Haggling should be fun (for both parties). A smile is therefore highly important! Remain courteous at all times. It’s very important that your ‘haggling opponent’ (the vendor for example) likes you and is willing to help you out. This also goes up the other way round of course! So, don’t take it too seriously :)!
What is your haggling tip?
Recommended further reading
The ultimate guide to backpacker jargon
6 Ethical travel dilemma’s I encountered as a traveler
How to Keep Your Money Safe While Traveling?
Safety tips for the adventurous solo backpacker