Bartering in India, Thailand, Bali or beyond; 5 Tips How To Barter When You Travel

I don’t know much. But I do know how to travel cheaply. A lot of you guys have followed me since I made all my money blogging. But before that, I traveled to every country in Southeast Asia for roughly $10 a day. That meant I spent a lot of time bartering in India, bartering in Thailand, bartering in Bali and beyond! So, as you too make your way around the world it is inevitable that you will find yourself bartering for pretty much everything you need to buy. Accommodation, taxi rides, generic touristy goods that we all seem to fill our rucksacks with! Sure, it can be part of the fun but you don’t want to get taken for a cash-rich stupid tourist now do you?

Here are 5 tips to hopefully make sure you pay a fair price on your holiday, here’s how to barter when you travel:

Bartering in India
Bartering in India

Remember your relatives

The most important rule of all. We are hugely privileged to have the opportunity to travel. Let’s never forget that. For sure, you don’t want to be taken for a ride and pay 100x of the value. But what we seek is a fair price, not the cheapest price. So ‘remember your relatives’.

What I mean is remember relatively the amount of money you are trying to save. I am not in any way advocating paying over the odds for something (I hate that more than anyone). But equally, try not to make too many enemies when bartering for sake of saving a few cents or pennies. You probably can’t even buy a mars bar back home for the price you’re trying to save on those nice fake original RayBans. I promise you, more often than not they need it a lot more than you do. Dont be the guys who are fighting over 0.50 extra for a pair of shorts or a bunch of bananas.

Bartering in Bali
Bartering in Bali?

How much are you willing to pay?

This is vital. When you see something you quite fancy, take a second to yourself and think how much, in your currency, are you prepared to part with to take that trinket home. The worst thing you can do is shout a price at the guy, well below his opening price, then when he agrees to your price, refuse to buy it (easy to do when you’re under pressure). So take a second and think of a reasonable price and if he matches it, it’s all yours. Don’t renege on the deal.

Bartering in Thailand
Bartering in Thailand?

Avert your eyes

If you don’t need (or want) to buy anything today then don’t get suckered into looking!! Best-case scenario: you waste his time and yours. Worst-case scenario: you end up with 20 miniatures tuk-tuks made out of recycled coke cans in your bag for the rest of your trip! So when those big friendly smiles and vocal “looking is free, come come” beckon you in. It’s ok to politely shake your head, smile and walk on. And then keep walking. Ignoring someone is less rude than spending 20 minutes with them and not buying anything. I know it’s tough, but it’s true!

bartering in india
bartering in india

Try to find what the locals pay

Easier said than done, I know. But if you can find this out then you’re much more likely to get a quoted a number that resembles a fair price than the one with 5 zeroes added especially for you. Try to ask people in the area (locals but not salesmen) what they think a fair price is. Or step back and watch to see how much cash the locals are handing over and stick to your guns when it’s your turn!

bartering in thailand
bartering in thailand

The Walk away

This is a tried and tested technique but one that needs to be honed perfectly before you can unleash it on these hardened sales people. Don’t walk away too early in the transaction or you’ll alienate the guy. Don’t walk away too late or he’ll think you’re bluffing! Get out there try (and fail) until you get it spot on. Once you’ve got your technique down pat, you’ll save yourself a fortune.

bartering in bali
bartering in bali

Final Thoughts on Bartering in Asia, or around the world

Ok, guys so hopefully you’ll save yourself some cash if you listen to this. Never accept the first price, in fact never (or rarely) accept a deal from the first salesman (and always travel with insurance!). Let capitalism take control and they’ll bid themselves down to a fair price (not the cheapest price, remember that’s not what you’re looking for, be fair). You may be in the cheapest countries to visit in the world, so don’t push it too much. Before you know it, everybody wins. Good luck and have fun.

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