10 tips to haggle like a pro

There is one thing that I have always found to be a bit of a pain when I travel. Bargaining. No matter how much I tried to bargain, I often felt both a little embarrassed and cheated afterwards. I wish I had inherited a little more of my father's haggling skills, that fingertip sense of when it is appropriate to negotiate the price. I still remember when, many years ago, my father proudly came home from what was then Posten and told me that after many years of pestering the cashier, he had finally managed to bargain down the parcel postage by 50 öre. For dad it wasn't about the money, for him it was the game and the discussions and the many laughs that kept him going. It wouldn't surprise me for a second if it turned out that the cashier had paid that last 50 out of her own wallet, just to please dad and give him a story to tell.

Over the years I have traveled through many countries where haggling is part of the culture. Places where, if there was a price tag at all, it could rather be seen as the seller's ultimate dream price for future financial independence. So what do I do today to bargain and to actually feel a little satisfied afterwards? Here come mine 10 best tips for a successful purchase at the right price!

1. Good mood

A smile and a laugh are the key to a good deal. Who wants to make a good deal with a surkart? Make small talk, ask how the day was and talk a little about the weather. Relationship is the key to a good price!

2. Plenty of time!

It is not easy to haggle for a good price. If you're in a hurry to get to the tour bus/restaurant - only get into the haggling game if you're OK with overpaying.

3. Don't dress like you have a full wallet

If you want to get the best price, leave the expensive jewelry at home. A good salesperson scans you in 1 minute - which country you come from, how big your wallet is and how willing you are to haggle. Better look like a backpacker if you want to get the lowest price.

4. Look around among the sellers next to you before you start dealing

How unique is the item you want to buy? Have you really looked around the market or have you just gone to the first best seller? The less unique the item, the better chance you'll get a better price further into the market. If the item is unique, be prepared that there may be a serious discussion about the price.

5. Don't show that you really, really want the item

When you find the perfect item, don't show how much you want it. Be a little fat, put the object back, think a little more. The seller has a keen eye on how eager you are to buy the item and will very likely give you a higher first bid if he thinks you really, really want the thing.

6. Don't ask about the price of things you didn't intend to buy anyway

A classic trap we Swedes often fall into. We are only a little interested in the price, but have no intention of shopping today! Wrong wrong wrong - now you will have a persistent salesperson after you for a long time, which usually makes us Swedes both a little annoyed and offended. The seller does not take a no, as he believes that your no is part of the bargaining game. And for heaven's sake - don't buy the gadget just to get rid of the seller!

7. Determine your maximum price BEFORE you ask for the price

How much are you really willing to pay for that t-shirt? 20 kronor? Then, NOW you can ask the seller about the price. If you're happy with that price, you don't have to be upset if it turns out your friend paid 19 kronor.

8. Don't make the first offer - Always let the seller make it

The one who makes the first bid is the one who bares his throat in the bargaining game. You say 20 kronor, then you will never get a price lower than 20 kronor. Same thing with the seller, he will put his first price at a level that is negotiable, but he will never get more than his first bid.

9. Keep an eye on the exchange rate

Don't start haggling without knowing exactly how much money you're actually bidding. You don't want to realize after a hard fight that you miscalculated a zero...

10. Carry cash in small currencies

It's hard to argue that an item is too expensive if you show a wallet full of large bills when paying. Always carry small bills with you, then you can claim that you have no more money with you than what you bid. An argument that often hits home.


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Travel blogger, gastronaut, photographer and family adventurer with over 60 countries in his luggage. Eva loves trips that include beautiful nature, hiking boots and well-cooked food. On the travel site Rucksack she takes you to all corners of the world with the help of her inspiring pictures and texts.

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