Backpackers bartering at a market

Barter Tips For Travellers

If you are going travelling to another country then you are leaving your home territory and stepping into someone else’s. Here things work differently, and the locals will have the home advantage when it comes to their customs and their systems.

At the same time you are likely to be somewhat a fish out of water and in a good mood ready to spend and enjoy yourself.

But watch out – this is something that the locals are all too aware of, and that’s particularly true when it comes to shopping. They know that you are looking for souvenirs, and that you aren’t used to haggling and fighting down your price, which is why many holiday destinations will be filled with locals trying to sell you things from stalls or at your table. Here we will look at how you can beat them at their own game and be successful in bartering them down to a good price.

Backpackers Bartering in a Hong Kong Street Market

Backpackers Bartering in a Hong Kong Street Market

Know Values: First of all, you need to know the value of money out here if you are going be successful at bartering. It sounds cheap yes, but is it still a good deal once you’ve converted it to your local currency? Try to think of everything in your own local currency and you will be able to judge the value better.

The 30% Rule: While this isn’t true in all cases, you should be aware that shop keepers will mark things up a lot for tourists – and anywhere up to 70%. If you can get your shop owner down to around 30% of the original asking price they offered you, then that will mean that you are likely to have done well.

Don’t Feel Obligated: They may not be running multinational corporations, but these salesmen are as savvy as they come and they have an innate knowledge of the human psyche and more specifically the ‘tourist psyche’. To this end they know exactly how to play you so that you feel indebted and obligated and so that you really want to buy whatever it is to avoid an awkward social situation. To this end they will learn your name, they’ll make jokes, they’ll say they don’t want to sell you anything (just ‘show’ you) and they’ll give you free gifts and cups of tea. Don’t let any of this make a difference to how much you’re willing to pay though – it’s all just a ploy (though that doesn’t mean they aren’t genuinely nice people as well!).

Be Ready to Walk: Know this: whatever it is you like, there are 30 more like it in the next shop. In other words you are under no pressure to buy the item right now and you can easily walk away and come back in half an hour. This is your ace up your sleeve and as soon as you start to walk away they will get desperate and knock the price down a lot. So be willing to leave, and make motions to do so.

Stay Silent: When bartering one of the golden rules is to let the other person talk. If they don’t get anything from you they will feel compelled to fill the gap. In telesales workers are often taught that the first person to talk is the one who will make the compromise, so recognize this and take advantage of their naturally talkative nature.

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  • Melissa Nason Says

    Good tip for bartering is never back down, but be fair. If you make an offer, honor it.

  • Heidi Cabrera Says

    Note: This is perfect for individuals whose primary currency isn’t USD but you may still answer anyway:

    For those who have some substantial quantity of USD cash that you simply already were built with a very long time ago when USD were built with a greater value, could it be smart to invest it now and purchase products in USD or is it more beneficial to simply pay inside your local currency (USD are less costly now) because USD may be more powerful again within the next couple of several weeks/years?

  • Peter Says

    Since my card does not charge foreign transaction costs, I suppose I ought to choose whichever currency is more powerful? Or must i normally pick the local currency presuming the charge card can give us a better transaction rate compared to local merchant?

    And So I should pay in $ $ $ $, then and let my charge card company get it sorted out?

    Assumption being local merchant who desires me to pay for in local currency might not produce as favorable an interest rate as my cc company?

  • mmminja Says

    since that chapelle corby incident its a little freaky going to indonesia.

    i am talking about, DUH taking drugs over there’s illegal. but can there be other things that may get you an enormous fine or jail?

    someone explained should you bring paracetamol, like, headache pills, they’ll jail you… what the heck?

    and another person reckons that you simply cant bring shampoo, conditioner or purfume over coz theyll remove it you…

    i dont think in my opinion these items but when anybody is aware of likely to indonesia, please produce some suggestions on which your not permitted to consider there.

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