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For some travelers, haggling is a fine art, honed over years of delicate negotiations and represented by a cabinet full of souvenirs purchased for a song. But for the rest of us — well, sometimes the rest of us could use a little haggling help.

If you often find yourself spending more than you intended, either because you’re afraid to offend a merchant or because you simply covet that hand-carved Buddha statue too much to let it go, you might want to try the following clever trick, taken from our Shopping Abroad: A Traveler’s Guide:

“If you’re paying in cash, set aside the money that you’re prepared to spend and keep it in your wallet; move the rest of your bills elsewhere. This serves two purposes. You can give the merchant visual evidence that this amount is the most you can possibly pay (‘See? This is all I have!’), and it also helps prevent you from going over your own self-imposed price limit.”

First, of course, you need to decide what amount you’re willing to spend. Shop around for a few days before committing to buy; this will give you a sense of the average going rate for the item you’re looking to purchase. Then take a hard look at your budget and set your limit. The final piece of the puzzle: Always be willing to walk away.

What’s your best haggling trick?

— written by Sarah Schlichter

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2 Responses to “Travel Tip of the Week: A Handy Hint for Haggling”

  1. EAS says:

    After being told by a merchant in Tunisia that I haggled “wrong,” I’ve picked up a few tips. Go for sweet rather than stand-offish; instead of being “insulted” by the high price, ask nicely for a discount (a little flirting can go a long way, too). If the price negotiations stall out at a little bit more than you want to pay, ask the merchant to throw in an extra something (like a package of Turkish coffee to go with the Turkish coffee pot you’re buying) so you get more for your money. And always start with a low first offer because they’re never going to accept your first price.

  2. Anna Moffat says:

    I love a spot of haggling! I like to start by halving the original price and take it from there. I’ve tried the walking away bit too and that often works a treat.

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