How To Haggle 101

Love it or hate it, haggling on vacation is as likely to happen as sunburns on redheads, which leaves many wondering how to haggle. These tips and tricks are primarily for sun soaker's, but the skills of negotiating found in this article can be used in your day to day life too; when you buy a car, a home, or head to the flea market. Whether you consider yourself quite the little deal maker, or are the type to pay $50 for a seashell, we have some great tips on how to get the biggest bang for your vacation buck.

The Etiquette of the Haggle

Beach vendors know how to haggle

To define haggling, it is the art of getting the deal; respectfully. Joking around is perfectly acceptable, but being a loud mouth isn't fun for anyone.

Remember these do not's:
-Don't try to get a better deal on things like bus tickets and liquor. Not possible.
-Don't yell, it's not an auction.
-Do not swear; remember, many people are very religious.
-Don't be unreasonable in what you feel you should pay. You looking for a bargain, not for the store to lose money.

The last point is one of the most important. Many of these merchants work incredibly hard on their wares, and are proud for continuing what may be a family tradition. They have to make a profit, so don't be too greedy. The preparation methods listed below will help you define what the appropriate price is.

Prepare for Negotiations; a vital key to success

Haggling is made easier when merchants are lined up on the beach

- Browse online. Check if any stores in the area you are going to be visiting have an online site that lists prices before you leave for vacation. This way you are educating yourself on the local economy and norms.
- Know where to shop. Also an online job is to find out the hot spots. If you find a place like the image above, competition alone drives down prices. But keep in mind if you have to spend money on a cab to get there and back and it may not be worth it.
- Dress down. Don't look like a slob, but refrain from things like gold jewellery. Higher prices tend to come with better dressed people. If you show up looking like a trust fund kid, you are going to be getting trust fund prices.
- Understand the conversion rate. Many stores have two different price points for their wares. Find places that list two prices, one in USD and one in their own currency. They are more likely to be haggle-friendly. Plus, if you have an understanding of the conversion rate it's that much easier.
- Have local currency, so you can pay the local price if it's lower, or save money because the conversion rate benefits you. This ties into the point above, and can be that little extra that pushes the deal in your favour. Also, on a side note, exchange your money at home, prior to departure.
- Know what the sales tax is. Often taxes are included in the price. If the sales tax is high, keep in mind there may not be much wiggle room on low priced items.

Strategy of a great haggler; keeping the power position in the negotiation.

Looking for souvenirs to take home and a haggle friendly store to buy the,

-Browse first. Look around, and if possible check out other stores too.
-Go at the end of the day, when merchants are more likely to be happy to unload extra stuff before closing.
-Try to hold off on purchasing.Often we buy things on the spot and regret it or find something better later. This is why we suggest to wait.There are always exceptions, so if you see a one of a kind piece that just calls out to you, buy it on the spot, you don't want it to be gone when you return.
-Decide what the maximum is you are willing pay (and stick to it!).
-Pay attention to the prices that others are paying. If in one store everyone is paying full price, but at the other, similar or same items are being discounted, you know where to go.
-Don't get over-excited (even if you are on the inside). The "I could take it or leave it" attitude works the best. Using phrases like' that's interesting' is non-committal, while 'I just have to have this' puts the vendor in a better position.

Remember, once you make an offer, if the vendor accepts it you have to buy the merchandise. The only exception is if you see it is broken or dirty after the fact.

How to execute the perfect Haggle

Step by step haggle instructions

- Practice makes perfect. If you aren't comfortable, before vacation, stop in at a yard sale or flea market and practice your haggling skills.
- Don't give away your hand. If you are interested in multiple pieces start with the least expensive to negotiate over. If the vendor cuts off 50% of the price right away you know the costs are seriously inflated and may want to go to a more reputable store, that has better quality. If the vendor doesn't work with you at all, again, you may want to try somewhere else, but for a different reason. If your first haggle goes well, then you can decide if you are ready to try a bundling.
- Start your offer about 20% less than the maximum you have decided you can pay. It is very important to gauge the vendors reaction. Watch closely. If he has a bit of a smirk, on your next item go a bit lower than the 20%. If he looks shocked, perhaps you asked for a bit too much.
- The counter-offer: After you initiate (or sometimes the store clerk may be the one to make an offer as you stare longingly at a piece), stay quiet and think about it. Silence often gets more results, and can cause them to drop the price even further, which means you can counter offer even lower. A simple 'hmmm 'can do the trick. Remember if they accept you have to buy the piece.
- If the counter offer is still above your maximum counter offer 5% below that number, and let them know if there is a sentimental reason or story to why you like the piece you are haggling for. Perhaps it reminds you of a family member, or would go perfect in your bedroom. Don't make anything up, but if you genuinely feel the piece, let the vendor know why you are on the hunt for a good bargain when it comes to their merchandise.
- At this point they may counter your offer again. If this is the case and it is still above your maximum tell them the truth, you can't afford it and reveal your maximum while explaining that it is best that you can do. If they truly can't reduce the price to this point ask if they have anything similar within your price range.
- Don't be afraid to walk away. It will cause the merchant to make a final ditch effort and if not, chances are you will find something else to fall in love with.
- If the vendors counter offer isn't good enough ask them to throw in something for free.

The strategy changes when you are vying for multiple articles in one store.

- When wanting to negotiate for a bundle of pieces, be sure you have been through the store and know what you want. Indicate your list to the salesperson and allow the vendor to make the price first. (Again, know what the ticket price total is and what the maximum is you are willing to pay).
- If the offer is close to your maximum allowance offer about 15% lower than the vendor indicated, and negotiate from there.
- If the price that the vendor offers is fair, accept it.
- If the merchant doesn't want to discount your item to what you want to pay, then counter with the price they said, but add something in. 'I will give you $50, but I want a small bag of coffee too.'
- Souvenirs for friends. Pick the same souvenir so you buy multiple and tell them what you are willing to pay. Ie. You have $20, So ask for 10 magnets. But remember, you are not obliged to buy for everyone.
- Don't shop on the first day. I cannot stress this enough. When you arrive at your sunny destination you will no doubt find lots of neat things to buy from the second you step off the plane. Don't buy anything until you get a feel for what you really want. Look around, but wait to spend money on souvenirs until the end of your trip so you have enough for your tours and restaurants.

Remember, you don't have to buy souvenirs for everyone back home.

I want to reinforce the idea that you are not obliged to buy souvenirs for everyone you know. Often those who are not strongest negotiators, and more than likely reading this article, also feel this uncanny guilt if they come home empty handed for friends. Don't. Your money is hard earned and you have spent a ton of it to go on vacation in the first place. If someone is watching your pet or house while you are off enjoying yourself, by all means bring them back a nice bottle of Rhum or small native sculpture. As for everyone else, don't feel obliged. As soon as one of you in your friend group stops doing it, the rest will follow suit. Everyone feels the same, they aren't buying stuff because they want to, but because they feel they have to. Or, they want to but can't really afford too. Either case, someone has to put a stop to it. Still feel bad? Just make up a story about the angry TSA agent that confiscated all the nice things that you were bringing home! (Just kidding.)

Happy Haggle Hunting on your Vacation!

With these helpful hints and tips you can really get a great bargain on things you will actually care about when you return home. That seashell encrusted thermometer for $50 seemed pretty cool at the gift shop but, really, are you going to hang it up at home a relive the moments of your trip? Probably not. However, a nice bottle of local rhum, some cigars or a handwoven hammock are things that you will actually enjoy way after your vacation is all but forgotten.

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