How to haggle on holiday

We Brits are famed for our unwillingness to haggle while here at home, but a study by AA insurance has revealed that Brits are more likely to drop our British reserve and haggle to bag a holiday bargain. Learn these tricks of the trade before you head off for your summer break and you’ll be a dab-hand at bagging bargains abroad:

Never be afraid to ask
It doesn’t matter where you are, you can always give haggling a go. In some regions such as Asia and North Africa, you are supposed to barter – the idea is to start low and don’t be tempted to pay more than your target price. If the game ends well, then the price will climb steadily, but end below your target price.

Shop around for souvenirs
Of all the goods on offer, souvenirs from market stalls and flea markets attract the highest mark-ups. So, when browsing in a bazaar or shopping in a souk, bear in mind that the price you see is a multiple of the price you should pay. Therefore, in market environments, you can demand the deepest discounts and yet still get the goods.

Learn the language of trading
If a seller doesn’t speak English, then you’ll need to fall back on the local lingo. So, learn a few phrases to show that you mean business. For example, you could reel off the following comebacks:

– “How much for cash?”
– “I can find it much cheaper elsewhere.”
– “I’ll come back later/tomorrow.”
– “My best offer is [below your target price].”
– “No, thank you. I can’t afford that much.”
– “That’s far too expensive.”
– “What’s the real price, not the tourist price?”
– “What’s your lowest price?”

Be polite and friendly
At its best, haggling is a ritual which leaves both parties feeling like winners. So, always be friendly and well-mannered, as this will help to win over your opponent. Haggling in person almost always works better than over the phone or by email. Also, always remember that you must leave the seller with some profit, so be reasonable and know when to quit. Don’t turn a haggle into an argument.

Some venues are easier than others
Markets and small shops are haggling heaven, and it’s usually easy to negotiate for taxi rides and excursions. Likewise, getting upgraded hotel rooms and transportation can be an easy game. Then again, bargaining can be harder in bars and restaurants, and especially in up market shops and hotels. Try ‘a deal on the doorstep’ before taking your family into eateries. If your group makes to walk away, it’s amazing how quickly prices come down.

Some countries are easier than others
Bargaining is easier to do in some countries than others. In some parts of the world, haggling is not part of the culture and can be frowned upon. For instance, haggling can be hard going in Germany and other Western European countries, but fun in the US, North Africa and the Far East.

Look for existing discounts
If items have already been marked down in price, then this is a clear sign that they must be sold. So, look for things that are ‘priced to clear’ or ‘reduced for quick sale’ and then demand even bigger discounts than those already shown on the price tag.

Ask for extras
If a seller isn’t willing to budge below a certain price, then switch tactics by aiming to get more bang for your buck. Ask for extras to be thrown in for free such as a room with a balcony or sea-view, a car-hire upgrade, free desserts or coffee, and so on. By doing so, you keep the seller happy while getting a bit more for your money.

Know your market
Before you set off on your holiday, make sure that you learn about the trading habits and customs of the places you’re visiting. You can do this by using guidebooks such as the Lonely Planet series or via research on the Internet. For example, electronics are incredibly cheap in the Far East, but you can still drive down the price by threatening to move on to a rival store. Indeed, it’s quite remarkable how saying “I’ll check the price next door” can bring out salespeople’s competitive instincts.

Know your currency
It’s handy to have an idea of how much foreign currency can be converted into pounds sterling. For example, with the US dollar at roughly $1.50 to the pound, each dollar is worth about 67p. So, ten dollars is £6.70, fifty dollars is £33.50, $100 is £67, and so on.

Remember to pack your cheap holiday insurance…for complete travel protection!
Where there is bartering and trading, there are sure to be pickpockets and thieves. So, don’t dress flashily when out bargain-hunting, and leave your valuables in a secure location, such as the hotel safe. Also, keep your money safely tucked away and don’t bring it all out at once.

You can get an instant holiday insurance quote and immediate cover by going online to 24/7 travel insurance. A 3-day break in Europe will cost you only £5.32* – a small price to pay for peace of mind protection whilst you are away!

* Premium £5.32 includes Insurance Premium Tax based on an adult aged under 55 taking out a “Standard” Single Trip 24/7 travel insurance policy for 3-days in Europe excluding personal possessions cover and purchased within 14 days of departure date. Cover details and prices are correct at time of going to press (July 2010) and are subject to change.