Coming back home with souvenirs from your travels is an absolute must for sparking daily fond memories of your trip and showing off your impeccable global-inspired taste. But even though you’ve got the scoop on the best ways to pack and tips for shopping on vacation, you might be one of the many Americans who isn’t so savvy at bargaining. Haggling is as common as a morning cup of joe all over the world, but it’s definitely not second nature to a lot of us. Here’s a guide to scoring a good deal on envy-worthy souvenirs and getting more out of the cultural exchange of bargaining during your upcoming travels.
1. Shop around closing time. To give yourself a fighting chance at a good deal, check out the markets toward closing time. This is when the sellers want to get rid of their items for the day and are more willing to part with goods for a cheaper price. BUT if you have your heart set on a specific item, it’s best to go earlier, as they may sell out.
2. Take your time wandering through markets and comparing goods. Start by walking through the stalls to get an idea of the types of items on display and what you’re actually interested in. Then compare style and quality among vendors. In most markets, each shop will give you déjà vu, since many vendors sell the same mass-produced goods. You’ll be able to get a better deal on something you could get from 20 different vendors than you will a special, one-of-a-kind piece.
3. Only bargain if you’re going to buy. This rule goes right along with saying “please” and “thank you” in terms of manners, so don’t waste a shopkeeper’s time if you’re not ready to commit. Remember that you’re not just exchanging goods and currency; being as respectful as possible in someone else’s country shows your appreciation for their culture, even if it’s different from your own.
4. Start by offering half the asking price. Now that you’ve picked out your goodies, you get to have some fun. When you find out the price, a standard counter-offer in Asian countries is half the asking price. They drive a harder bargain in South America and Europe, but as a rule of thumb, go low. Don’t take their reaction personally — they may laugh at you — but it’s all just part of the game.
5. Stay cool. Call their bluff by remaining calm and waiting for their lower offer. Make sure you keep that same face you have when bae gets you something you love, but you’re still mad about something he said that morning. If the seller knows you’re totally obsessed with whatever it is you’re haggling over, they’re not going to go very low. Be cool.
6. Buy in bulk. If the vendor isn’t meeting your desired price, try to buy for friends and family to see if they’ll give you a discount. This works a lot of the time, because it guarantees them a few more sales and they’re still going to get a good deal out of it.
7. Don’t worry about ripping a seller off — you’re not that good. No matter how slick of a deal you think you’ve gotten or how badly you feel about bargaining, never, ever believe you’re ripping them off. They all could win Emmy’s for their acting abilities, seriously. A seller will NEVER give you a price lower than their profit margin. Believe that.
8. Smile and walk away. If you’ve done everything you can to get a reasonable price — including comparing costs and asking locals — your last resort is to smile, thank them and slowly walk away. Maybe linger on some other items and hope the seller acquiesces. If she does, she’ll beckon you back and you’ve got yourself a deal. If not, on to the next shop!
Have you had any crazy bargaining experiences? Share the deets with us @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)