- Speak the Language – This one is first for obvious reasons. If you can’t speak at least a little bit of the language, you’re definitely going to get ripped off. When the vendor has to “confer with his associates” on the price, you have to know what they’re saying! Even if you only get the gist of it, you’ll be able to negotiate better. Speaking the native tongue also helps you sound like less of a foreigner, and at the very least, like a experienced/educated traveler. Most vendors know that it’s easier to rip off an uneducated tourist.
- Know the Value – Knowing the value of an item beforehand will be extremely helpful to you. It’ll allow you to know instantly if you’re getting a good deal or not. I often buy silver jewelry abroad because it’s cheaper than in the states. Knowing the general value of silver in my own country and in the country I’m visiting helps me have solid numbers in my head and a great base to negotiate from when making an offer.
- Research – If you don’t know the value beforehand, research it right then and there. Chances are inside the market there is more than one vendor, if not many, that are selling the item you’re looking for. Getting quotes from different shops gives you, at least, an average or approximate value. Don’t buy at the first place you stop! I’ve made this mistake before, and almost ended up paying FOUR times the average going rate.
- Act Uninterested – You don’t have to be rude, but you also don’t have to be desperate. Being overly enthusiastic about an item basically tells the seller that he won’t have to work that hard to get you to buy it. If you ask about a particular item and the price isn’t even in the same tax bracket as what you were expecting to pay, then just walk away. Normally this tells the seller that you’re not an idiot and they’ll shout out a much better offer as you’re leaving just to get you to stay.
- Buy in Bulk – Even if you’ve already managed to drive the price down significantly, you can always drive it down more by purchasing more than one item. Ask the vendor what his/her best offer is if you buy X amount of things. This can save you another 10-20%.
- Dress Down – Essentially, don’t show up decked out in diamonds and showing off your latest Birkin. Fanny packs are also pretty bad and basically scream TOURIST. Vendors change their price depending on the person and how much they think they can get out of you. Why do you think nothing has a price sticker?
- Know When to Settle – If you’ve been haggling for a while with a vendor and they seem pretty firm about their last offer, settle for it if you really want the item and haven’t seen it anywhere else for less. At the end of the day, they’re individual sellers that are trying to make a decent living, not giant corporations. If I’m going to give my hard-earned cash to someone, I’d rather it be them and not a big box store.
And those are my tips! I hope you enjoyed and I wish you the best of luck when you need to haggle abroad.