The Art of Bargaining: How to NOT Get Ripped Off by Street Vendors

Updated: May 13, 2019

This post is all about bargaining. You may wonder why do I need to know about bargaining when I should be preparing for my trip. The answer is most Americans spend a great deal of preparing for their trip by buying different items they need for their trip, double and (maybe) triple checking their suitcase, and travel documents and confirmations. But traveling to a foreign country like you are, learning to bargain is a MUST in preparing for your trip. Bargaining is just as much as apart of the traveling experience as anything else you will do. 

One of the many things that I LOVE about traveling to developing countries is that BARGAINING is acceptable and anticipated before transactions occur. I love hassling with the local vendors and getting a cheaper price. I literally get a thrill out of it. I tend to be a more aggressive bargainer so modify my tips to meet your level of comfort. 

The Art of Bargaining Before I start the scenario below, one thing you need to know about bargaining is how to keep your cash in your wallet. Do not bring wads of cash with you because mentally you know you have the money with you to pay the price that vendors ask for so you are less likely to bargain. Also, you do not want to have endless bills in your daypack when you eventually pay for your souvenirs because the vendor could see them and they can get a little upset. My recommendation: bring small bills and put small amounts throughout your bag. Maybe in one zipper, you have $30 and in another zipper or pocket, you have $50. This is a practice I learned while living in Morocco and have served me very well ever since.

So I am going to use a scenario between myself and pretend Julio on buying a piece of art he is selling

Me: How much for the painting?  Julio: $50 Never take the first price a vendor gives you as the final price. They tend to upsell because they know you are American and want to make a quick buck. So offer him half of the price. 

Me: What about $25? Julio: That is too low. It cost me more to make the painting. What about $45? They will always have a reason why they cannot let you pay half price the for the souvenir. Don't get discouraged. Press on!

Me: What about $20? Julio: No, no, no that is even lower than the first time. $40 So you are probably wondering, why did she bring the price down again? The reason being is most people assume that you will offer a higher price (than your original offer) to meet them in the middle. My goal is to play hardball so I can get the BEST PRICE POSSIBLE.

Me: Ok, what about 25?  Julio: Ok lady I see that you really want this painting but the price is soo low. How about $40? 

Me: My last offer is $28. Julio: $40 is the lowest I can give it to you

Me: No, thank you *walks away to find another vendor who will pay what I am offering* Julio: Ok Ok. You can have it for $30 Me: But I said $28. Will you take it for $28? Julio: Ok, I will take it for $28.  Me: Smiles and hands him $28 My last resort is always to walk away from the vendor so he knows that I will only take it for $28 or no deal. If he really wants to sell the item, he will sell it to me for $28. 

Do not be afraid to ask for the price that you want and be firm about staying within that price range. Use this strategy and you will get low price souvenirs each time. 

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