Travel Tips

How to bargain like a pro

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Just because you live in a western country such as Australia or the USA does not mean you can not bargain. Growing up my parents taught me to negotiate for everything from shoes to electronics and even a full scholarship to university. These skills that I learnt as a child have stayed with me and have been very helpful not only in business but in my travels around the world.

Bargaining is expected in a lot places around the world such as Asia, Middle East, and South America. Be careful not to offend people in some countries. It is not worth saving a few cents to make yourself look bad.

Bargaining, haggling, getting a good deal, never pay retail, whatever you want to call it, is a skill that can be learned with practice. If you have never bargained before the hardest part is knowing where to start. In this article I have outlined step by step how to bargain like a pro.

“If you don’t ask you don’t get” 


Before you even go to the store you need to do your research on the product and prices from many different stores including online. Also you can ask locals or someone that works in the industry what the price should be or do some online research. Websites such as will pull together many different website prices into one place.

Buy at the right time:

There are certain times of the year when products are on sale for one reason or another. It may be that it is discontinued stock or a new model is coming out. When this happens, you can bargain down even further than the sale price as the company will be looking to clear the stock as fast as possible. This is the same for closing down sales, offer a price that is still respectful that doesn’t offend the store but low enough that they want to sell it to you.

How much am I willing to pay:

Before you even start the bargaining process you will have to have a maximum number that you are going to be willing to pay for the item/service that you are purchasing. You will get this number from the research that you have done to come up with this figure. The more products you buy the lower the unit price should be.

Reading the Salesperson:

Reading the other persons body language can be key to a deal. You can tell if they are making things up by the way they move and also the tone in their voice. Often the seller will pretend to be really offended by an offer. This is very common. It also will mean that you have said an appropriate starting offer. Don’t be put off by the way they have acted and stand firm on your pricing.


Bargaining doesn’t always go to plan so be patient. You may have to see another sales person or go to another store. You also have to put a value on your time. Is it worth $5 to spend another hour of your time shopping around?

“During a negotiation, it would be wise not to take anything personally.” – Brian Koslow

How to Initiate the bargain:

It is best to wait until other customers are out of earshot to negotiate as some places may not want other customers to hear how much you are paying for your item/service. Firstly start off by asking how they are and how their day has been to break the ice. Make a lighthearted comment as well whether it is about the weather/good or bad or joke about your day. Being friendly and smiling goes a long way and will instantly open you up to the sales person. If you are rude and unfriendly they will automatically shut you down.

If you are in a foreign country learn the phrase for “how much is it”, thank you, too expensive, no in the local language. Use a calculator either from the shop or on your phone to negotiate the price.

Never accept the first price offer.

Don’t say your price first:

Alway let the salesperson set the starting price. If you say a price first, you may price yourself out of a good bargain from the beginning.

Different ways to get the price down:

So & So is selling it for $xxx – what price can you offer me to purchase from you.

If you were to do this, I would pay this. eg. If you were to include with the TV a wall bracket and HDMI cable then I would pay $xxx. Packaging a few items together will give you a greater discount on the products.

I have a number in my head. You tell me what the lowest price you can offer is, and if it’s at or below my number then we have a deal.

Be quiet – let the salesperson do the talking. If you can see the salesperson talking away. Let them. Do not interrupt them. They will just keep offering cheaper prices. When they do this. Just say you have to consider it and think about it. They will drop lower and lower.

Getting a tuk tuk: How much is it to destination x? Your counter offer should start at approximately 40-50% below the amount that you want to pay. Stand firm on your final price. Don’t allow the driver to stop at their friends shops either. If they do just say I’m not paying you and get out and leave.

“Everything is negotiable. Whether or not the negotiation is easy is another thing.” – Carrie Fisher    

Walk Away:

If you feel like you are getting ripped off, you probably are.

If you are unable to get the price that you are willing to pay then walk away. Don’t be afraid to do it and don’t feel obliged to buy it. Just politely say thank you for your time but no thank you.


With most things in life it takes practice to get better, bargaining is no different.

When starting out, practice your skills on small ticket items. Once you feel comfortable, try and bargain for the big ticket item you have been waiting to get.

Where to bargain:

Hotels, electronic stores, department stores (some people may disagree with me though), clothing, gifts, street markets (food & clothes/accessories)

When not to bargain:

Junior staff members
Public transport
Supermarkets (except when a product is close to its expiry date)


Most of all have fun and enjoy the process of bargaining and you will walk away with a great deal that benefits you and the seller.

If you have any other bargaining tips please let me know what they are in the comments below.

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