Updated: Sep 20, 2019
As a traveller one of the most important skills is to be able to haggle in order to save money. After all, money saved is money earned.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term “haggling” then you should be, especially as a traveller. It basically means that you are able to bargain or negotiate the price of items and products being sold to get them down to a more favourable price
This is a skill that is very valuable to have, because when travelling to some countries, the locals definitely do attempt to take advantage of tourists, by quoting extremely high prices relative to the normal price just to see if they can get away with it and this is when the ability to haggle comes in handy.
I will be sharing some of my top haggling tips that have been my recipe for saving money when shopping abroad.
1. Convert and compare
The first thing I do when I’m told the price of something in another currency is draw for my calculator. Usually, I’m aware of the exchange rate so try to find out how much the quoted price is in GBP and even if I’m not sure, I use google to check the conversion rate there.
By doing this, I can compare the price of what I’m buying in that country, to the maximum amount I’d be willing to pay for it in my home country. This gives me a benchmark as to the price range that I should be aiming at getting the price down to, which is usually lower than how much I would pay for it in the UK.
Example: A Balinese shopkeeper explained to me when I was in Bali that the dressing gown that I wanted was 300k Rupiah.
He knew that I was a tourist due to my accent and appearance. So, I took out my calculator and converted 300k Rupiah into pounds.
This came to nearly 20 GBP which was absolutely extortionate in comparison to how much I could get it for in the UK (or even if I ordered it to the UK from a Chinese vendor on Aliexpress).
I decided straight away that the price was too much and began haggling to a much lower pirce range made sense to me.
Result: I walked away with the item for 100k Rupiah instead, which is less than half of the original price quoted.
It’s so important to do research on what you will be buying. This can be done through asking locals the approximate price that is expected to be paid and also using your intuition of normal prices for the product being sold.
If you want to (and have time to) take your research a step further and really increase your consumer surplus, then you can also research what the average income per person in that country is.
Once you’ve done that, you can then compare the price that they’re giving you and find out how realistic it sounds; given their cost of living in that country, how many customers they would need in order to reach that average income threshold and any other factors you deem relevant in setting the right price.
Example: The average income per person in Nigeria is relatively low (43200 NGN/Month in 2018). So when the mechanic attempted to charge one fifth of that for a minor fixture, the haggling began, because it didn’t make sense that he would only need to see 5 customers in a month to achieve the average monthly income. I hope I’m making sense here?
3. Halve the price
If there’s not much time to do all of the research that I have explained above, then your best bets are to go in and halve the price quoted immediately. It sounds crazy, but you would be surprised how effective this is. Usually the locals can smell a tourist from miles away and try their very best to totally exploit their lack of knowledge on prices for their own financial gain.
Example: When I was in Bali, travelling solo for three weeks I would aggressively haggle with the local taxis who would try to charge me an arm and a leg. At times I would even only pay 20% of the price that they had quoted because what they were proposing was just ridiculous.
Bonus tips :
- I often used google to search up the distance of the place I was heading to to ensure that I wasn’t getting bumped and to also know what kind of price I would be comfortable paying for that distance.
-Using a taxi app usually ensures that you are paying a fair price at al times and I’d highly recommend finding out the cheapest and safest one to download to save you the stress of haggling such a cost.
4. Walk away
Do NOT be afraid to walk away from a bad deal. Some of the locals that are conducting business can be very rigid with their negotiations and reluctant to meet you even half way.
If you are not 100% happy with the price being quoted then ensure that you tell them the final amount that you’re willing to pay or ‘last price’ as they say in the haggling world. If they do not accept kindly decline their offer and walk away.
9 times out of 10 they will chase after you or give you a better deal for that item. In which case, be even more persistent about the price you are willing to pay because the fact that they chased you shows a clear indication of desperation. They may not have had a sale all day, so receiving anything from you is beneficial to them.
-Sellers can sometimes use emotional blackmail to get you to pay more for the item and use lines like ‘this is handmade’, but let’s be real here, this is strictly business.
-Even if you walk away and they don’t chase you then you’re bound to find a better deal elsewhere
-Even if you don’t, there’s always the option of returning to haggle some more and then buy.
Never leave it on a sour or rude note with the sellers as you may need to return if you are desperate for that item and haven’t found a better deal elsewhere
5. Be firm
This point is closely linked to the walk-away method. You must be able to stand your ground when haggling. This involves being confident and using an assertive tone of voice to show that you know what you’re doing and talking about.
Don’t give into emotional blackmail and always be certain and clear of what you are willing to pay and what you are NOT willing to pay. This can be quite uncomfortable to do at first, but after you get the hang of being ruthless with the price that you’re offering to pay and walking away if what they have offered isn’t satisfactory, you will end up saving a lot more money than you think.
6. White lies
There are a few common phrases (or white lies) to use when haggling that always help the process to be easier and outsmart the seller. These are listed below:
“This isn’t my first time here by the way, I know how much these things cost”
“Someone down the road offered me *insert price lower than what they’re offering closer to your price*”
“This is all I have and bring out how much you’re willing to spend”
“Too much my friend!" (when describing how unbelievably expensive the item is even if it actually isn't that bad)
7. Apply pressure
Finally, ensure that you apply pressure to the seller about what you are buying. This could include giving them an ultimatum about the item you’re buying. If I’m pretty desperate for an item and for the seller to make a decision as soon as possible, I use the exact words “If you give me this price, I will buy it RIGHT NOW. Right now, my friend. Come on?”
If you do this while showing that you are about to walk away and visit other businesses to find a better deal, then the seller is likely to make a rush decision to give you the item at a lower price in case they lose you. This does;t always work by the way but it’s worth a try for sure.
I hope that this has been helpful to those of you that aren’t aware of how to haggle. This is my recipe for successful haggling. I would love to know if there are any other methods my subscribers use when haggling? Leave them below or contact me on Instagram or Twitter and let me know!