So You Want To Travel Forever: Negotiate

Thursday, January 09, 2014

This series is for those who are thinking of going away for a while, if not forever. It covers not just the financial and physical aspect of travel, it also deals with the the human side of it all.

So far, these are the topics we've covered on the series:

Live on Less
Go Light
Be Adaptable

Spending less is important if you want to travel longer and experience more. How do you stretch your budget even further? You have to learn how to negotiate like a pro and get the best deal on your travels.

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Assume everything is negotiable

Everything. It doesn't matter if it's shoes, noodles, a cab ride, a biking tour or a few nights at a home stay. Most merchants will play the game with you and give you a better deal. I've heard some stories of even hotels agreeing to lower prices in Southeast Asia- but usually during the low season. If they won't lower the price, try to get some add-ons or freebies instead. Like a wallet when you buy a dress or free breakfast for a week's stay at a resort. I met a guy while traveling who would even get discounts from hostels if he can get more people to stay there. How's that as an incentive to make friends? Which brings me to...

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Be Friendly and Polite

Start negotiation with a smile and happy disposition. Don't come off as too aggressive or else you can get into a fight. Try to gauge if the person is even willing to bargain before you do your pitch. And should you get turned down several times, walk away gracefully and don't argue with them.

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Game Face On

Don't act like you're all in love with a sarong or pair of earrings. Wipe that wistful look off your face while you try to negotiate. Merchants are very intuitive and can sense that sort of thing. If they see how much you want it already, you have no chance of getting the best deal.

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Learn the language

Admittedly, negotiating with someone who doesn't speak your language can build character. You will be required to summon all the patience you have in you. So do yourself a favor and learn the language or even just a few helpful words. The best things to learn would be "How much?", "Too expensive", "Give me a discount" and the basic numbers. Most locals would be so delighted that you actually made the effort that they couldn't resist giving in.

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Walk Away

If something you want is overpriced or more than what you expected to pay, just walk away. More often than not, they will call you back and you’ll be able to agree on a price that's more within budget. If not, better luck next time and just walk to the next shop or tuktuk driver..

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Disclaimer and Warning:

- Don't try to haggle for something you're not really interested in buying. This is just bad manners and a waste of energy for both parties. I've seen some sales people get upset when they agree to a buyer's asking price and the buyer refuses to make the purchase.

- Always have some small change with you while you shop. It will be embarrassing to convince someone that you can't afford something when you whip out a large 1,000 baht bill to pay for your item.

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- Remember that individuals at small local markets or bazaars usually have low profit margins. Imagine saving yourself 5 USD and giving yourself a pat on the back for making a bargain. But would you still do that knowing that some of these sellers have to subsist on 5 USD a day? It sure changes your perspective doesn't it?

So that’s the 4th part of the series! It goes until 10 so I’m going to feed you nibbles every few weeks. Do you have any experiences negotiating? Feel free to share them or add more tips in the comments below.

Next time, I’ll be sharing some secrets on "Create Your Freedom Lifestyle" so watch out for that!
Lois is the Editor-in-Chief of the female travel blog When she's not having adventures around the globe, she can be found surfing, surfing someone's couch or giving motivational workshops and retreats.

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4 sole trails

  1. Good advice as always! I've also learnt that it pays to understand a bit about local superstition. For example, in China, it's good luck for the store (for the day) if the first customer in buys something.

    So scout out something you like, head over the next day and try to be the first customer in the morning. Chances are good that you can get at least a little bit of a discount just to bring 'luck' into the store (of course this may not work for all stores... like Zara).

    I managed to get a pink leather jacket for 80% off this way!

  2. Wow! this is great advice Liyana! I will definitely keep that in mind the next time I shop. Thanks for sharing this!

  3. For someone like me who is just beginning to travel, your articles are really very helpful, and this one is no exception. Keep writing and inspiring!

  4. It’s almost impossible to find well-advised men or women on this content, even though you come across as like you fully understand the things you’re covering! Excellent click here for info


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