Haggle, barter, negotiate – whatever you’d like to call it…as Aussies, negotiating a lower price with a shop keeper is not something we tend to do in our everyday lives.
Yes, we may try to drive down the price of those big ticket items like houses, cars and electronic goods, but we don't tend to haggle over everyday costs.

So, when it comes to holidaying in a country where haggling is not only acceptable, but sometimes expected, we can be forgiven for feeling a little lost on what to do and what not to do. So to help you out, we've collated some of the best advice we could find on how to master the fine art of holiday haggling.

FIRST UP - WHERE TO HAGGLE AND WHERE NOT TO

It's important to know your audience first. In some countries haggling isn't really done, like Australia. In others it’s considered downright rude. While in others, it’s considered fun! So, it's a good idea to know which of these brackets your holiday destination falls into before you go.

Here are some of the top countries/regions for and against haggling:

Infographic - Where can you haggle?

The countries that are in the middle are not really for or against haggling - you may find some places are ok with it, like market stalls, but it isn't generally done in other areas. On the other hand, the third column sees haggling as a no-no. It's either not part of their culture, or may even be seen as rude and offensive, so if you're going to any of these places, you probably want to practice the art of avoiding haggling instead.

HAGGLING 101

Now, for those countries where haggling is acceptable, and actually a form of entertainment...  for those countries, you're going to want to brush up on your negotiation skills.

Here are our top tips for you:


1. Don't be afraid

The old saying goes - if you don't ask, you don't get. So don't be afraid to just ask.

Figure out what you are prepared to pay for the item and then offer lower. That way you can work your way up to a price near what you initially had in mind.


2. Aim for a win-win

No one wants to lose when it comes to haggling. You want to win by negotiating a lower price and paying less, the vendor wants to win by still making a profit. If you lose (by paying too much), or the vendor loses (by making a loss instead of a profit), then all of the fun has been taken out of the negotiation.

Haggling should leave both parties feeling like winners.
 

3. Be polite and friendly

In your negotiations, you'll get further if you're polite and friendly with the vendor. Aim to be reasonable (that win-win scenario again), know when to quit, and don't let a fun haggle turn into an argument.

Market stall negotiations can be fun


4. Try different tactics

If you're not getting anywhere on price, then try something new. Maybe ask the vendor to throw in a few extras or an upgrade so you get a bit more bang for your buck. Again, if you don't ask, you won't get.
 

5. Be bold

While it is important to be polite and friendly, it's also important to be bold. Be upfront, clear and decisive. If you're feeling embarrassed and unsure of yourself, the vendor will pick up on that and use it to their advantage. Fake it until you make it!
 

6. Learn the language of trading

If you're going to be serious about your negotiations, then it's worth learning a few key phrases in the local lingo in case the vendor doesn't speak English. For example, in Spanish speaking countries, a little "Demasiado, precio más bajo por favor" (too much, lower price please) may go a long way.

Other phrases you could learn are:

  • I can find it cheaper somewhere else
  • I'll come back tomorrow / later
  • My best offer is [lower than your target price]
  • That's too expensive!
  • What's the real price, not the tourist price?

Learning the lingo will show the vendor that you mean business, but just remember our other tips too - be polite and friendly!
 

7. Work as a team

If you're travelling with your partner or friends, you can work together to achieve your haggling goal.

For example, saying to the vendor "I need to ask my husband first" not only gives you a bit of mid-haggle breathing room, but also tells the vendor that you are serious about your negotiation and they may be inclined to wiggle on price a little bit more to keep your business.
 

8. Know when to walk away

This is probably the most important tip. You need to know when to stop haggling.

You want to aim for a win-win scenario remember, and that does not involve getting played. If you aren't getting anywhere then it's time to stop - just be polite, make it clear you aren't prepared to pay that price and walk away.

You never know... as soon as you turn your back, you may find the price drops a little...

If haggling really isn't your bag, there are a couple of things you can do to still grab a bargain on your holiday:

  • ask locals where they go shopping instead of shopping in the tourist areas
  • ask a local to buy it for you - they may be offered the "local" price instead of the "tourist" price

If you have a fantastic story about haggling on your holiday, we'd love to hear what it is. Just drop us a line on our Facebook page and share your top tips for others! And remember our FXperts instore can help you get your haggling money ready before you go.

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This blog is provided for information only and does not take into consideration your objectives, financial situation or needs.  You should consider whether the information and suggestions contained in any blog entry are appropriate for you, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs.  While we take reasonable care in providing the blog, we give no warranties or representations that it is complete or accurate, or is appropriate for you.  We are not liable for any loss caused, whether due to negligence or otherwise, arising from use of, or reliance on, the information and/or suggestions contained in this blog.

Janelle Strickland

Janelle has 6 years of experience working in the travel industry as a digital marketer, with the last two specialising in Travel Money. Coming from a background of Journalism and English, Janelle enjoys writing copy for blogs, websites and social media, and has written guest posts for both Cruiseabout and Travel Money Oz.