Haggling can save you some serious coin (if you're good at it), and when you're traveling on any kind of budget, that's a pretty big deal. Still, haggling in other countries isn't quite the same as it is in the States. And it's not always optional; in some countries it's considered pretty gauche not to have a little back and forth.
Here's your handy guide to your next tourist negotiation.
1. Haggling Is A Sport
Some people are afraid to engage in haggling for fear of offending someone, but remember, it's not about fighting with the person. Often times, vendors in locations like Thailand, Morocco, etc. have been haggling all of their lives. Not only does this mean they won't be offended by it, it means that they're very, very good at it.
It's important to realize that, using the sports analogy, these people are pros. They're the LeBron's, the Crosby's, the Brady's of haggling. You likely aren't in the same vicinity, or perhaps even the same realm as these people.
Know who you're competing against and that they know exactly what they're doing! Forget about winning and just try to get the best deal you can.
2. Keep It Light And Easy
You're on a vacation, so don't make haggling stressful or aggressive. Keep a smile on your face, be friendly, and don't be too bold.
Many pro-hagglers consider it to be similar to flirting. There's a give and take and a building of rapport throughout the process. It's OK to joke and put some familiarity into the negotiations, in fact, it might even help you come out with bigger savings!
3. Know The Product
It'll be an uphill battle if you're not familiar with the item or service you're negotiating for. By doing some preliminary research, you'll know what questions to ask, comparisons to make, and things to look for in determining if it's a worthwhile purchase.
Quality can vary greatly from vendor to vendor, so by being knowledgeable of the item you desire will enable you to look for any flaws or issues. You also might be able to talk the vendor down by drawing comparisons to similar products others are selling for cheaper.
4. Get Your Game On And Be Aloof
Give your opponent as little to work with as possible. Basically, keep your cards close to your chest from the second you approach. Go as far as to act disinterested, like you don't really care if you buy now, later, or never or from this vendor or someone else. If you're a card player, you know the importance of a good poker face, and it's equally important when you're haggling.
That also means that you should be prepared to walk away. Not only will this save you from getting suckered into a bad deal, it's also a great final negotiating tactic. Many find that the second they start to walk away, the real offers start to come out.
5. Know Your Limit
Part of walking away is knowing your limit. It's best to set a limit as to how much you'll pay for something and then stick to it firmly.
When you have set rules before you get to the negotiating table, it won't require any second thought to immediately dismiss or accept a vendor's offer. It will also show them that you mean business and that you're not open to being convinced!
6. Bundle Items Together
Consider creative offers, i.e. ask if they'll drop the price if you buy a few items. This will likely get you at least somewhat of a discount and will allow you to quite literally walk away with more than you bargained for.
7. Don't Negotiate Against Yourself
Your first offer should always be low, but any self-respecting vendor will likely reply with mock horror and say that price is way too cheap. They might ask you to make another offer, and psychologically speaking, you'll be more inclined to go significantly higher on your second offer due to their reaction. Don't be fooled!
The vendor is trying to make you negotiate with yourself, but take control of the negotiations by forcing them to come back to you with an offer. If you provide all the numbers, you're making their job way too easy.
8. Don't Go Too Far
It's easy to get carried away when you're in the midst of a fierce haggle-off. It's fun when it's light and there are no hurt feelings, but when it gets too serious and aggressive, it becomes a fight, and usually for insignificant reasons. Don't become so obsessed with winning that you ignore a good deal in pursuit of an even better one, especially if it's minor.
At the end of the day, what matters most is getting what you want for a fair price, and feeling happy. Traveling is meant to be fun, and so is haggling! If you follow these tips, you'll have an edge in your negotiations and a better chance of walking away pleased with the deal you got -- but remember always to have fun!