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Haggling or bartering, or simply shopping for some people, is an integral part of a holiday now. If you hit the souks, bazaars or markets during your holiday you will need to bargain for a good price for anything you buy. Easier said than done. Where we Brits are used to just handing over money, haggling is a whole new ballgame and can often put people off. Sometimes it seems intimidating but it really is no different to walking in to Harrods wearing a pair of Primark ballet flats. We all know the standard ‘go for half the price they offer’ so all you need is some confidence and a few helpful tips and you will soon become an expert at haggling.
1. - First and Foremost, regardless of the pleads you are robbing them of their worldly goods, the aim of haggling is that both parties enjoy the banter. They enjoy the bargaining process with you so don’t feel bad.
2. – Arm yourself with some small denomination notes before you go. It does you no favours to haggle to price down only to whack out a large note. You also run the risk the seller won’t actually have any change to give you. Having a few smaller denominations notes also gives you the option to say that is all the money you have left so can’t pay any more. And no, lady from Canada in the market in Laos, markets do not accept Visa Cards.
3. – Have an escape route. Some markets where you walk in to a stall to look at the pretty scarves make it pretty hard to leave when someone is trying to hard sell you something. Therefore, if you aren’t too sure about the whole haggling thing stand on the edge and ask to see something instead. This way if it gets a bit much you can easily walk off.
4. – Learn a little bit of lingo. By learning the numbers and ‘please’ ‘thank you’ etc you will often catch people unaware and give the impression you know a little bit more about the country and local life than most tourists. This will help you get the price locals would pay for goods rather than the tourist price. Also learn the phrase for ‘friendship price’, this works a treat in the Chinese markets.
5. – Practice the art of saying ‘No’. I own two very nice sarongs from Fiji and still 8 years later cannot bring myself to admit the inflated price I paid for them. They have to make a living so are guaranteed to turn the hard sell on and we can’t afford to just buy everything so practice – ‘No’.
6. – Don’t dress up. I can assure you that Miss Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City 2 would not have simply strolled through the souks wearing Dior. If you wear expensive clothes it isn’t quite so easy to haggle down a price and make out you have no money.
7. – Do your research on items you really want. Ask the people at your hotel how much something should cost if you really, really want it, there is nothing worse than being disappointed. If you really can’t go home without out prepare or budget and accept to pay whatever they ask.
8. – Don’t show desperation. You pretend to walk away and they don’t follow you down the street and then you go back because you do actually want it. Give in now. They know you want it and will never put the price down.
9. – Say it’s the last day of your holiday and that cash is all you have left before you leave.
10. – Smile, Laugh, and enjoy yourself. People are always more kind and receptive to people who smile.
There is no excuse now, head out and get shopping. If you have any tips on how to haggle around the world, or any amusing haggling stories then let us know!
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Cheska is a resident blogger at Beat the Brochure who has spent many a good year backpacking round the world, as well as a stint living in Beijing. Cheska has visited 6 out of 7 continents and will, repeat will, visit the last one before turning 30. Cheska is an avid CSI fan, streetfood expert and cat lover who can often be found with chocolate on her desk.