One of the first things you learn when traveling outside of the U.S. is that many places expect bargaining for goods and services. The first time I encountered this system was in Ghana, and even though I had been warned not to take anything for the asking price, I found it awkward and uncomfortable to offer a price of my own. Even so, I had to remember that bargaining is just a part of the sell, so I tried it out. It didn’t go very well the first few times because I was not very confident. But as I became used to offering a lower price throughout my travels, I began to feel more comfortable and I had some fun with it.
Here are some tips:
- Offer a price way lower than what you want for the item. That seems obvious, but you could find yourself paying way too much for something because you like it so much.
- Try offering a half, or even a third, of the price the vendor tells you.
- Be confident; it’s expected that you bargain, so don’t feel bad.
- Make sure you know the countries standard practices. In Ghana, for example, you should bargain down to below half the asking price, but in Vietnam 20% off is a good deal.
- Even if you are happy paying full price you should bargain down a little. If you don’t, the vendor will expect other travelers to pay full price as well and you hurt future travelers.
- If none of the above get you the price you want, walk away. One of two things will happen: you’ll find the same item from another vendor who will give it to you for a lower price, or the vendor will follow you and make the sale.
- You almost never bargain on the cost of food, and usually reserve bargaining to street vendors and not large established stores.
In the end the price of a souvenir is up to you, if you are comfortable with the price you paid then it doesn’t matter if you were over charged because you are happy with the purchase. So go out there and bargain.