I’m pretty sure that I’m not alone in claiming that one of the most satisfying mementos of a trip abroad would be, say, an embroidered scarf bought at a street market in Madrid after a 15-minute haggling session. Spending a whole day (or two) hunting for sales and bargains in a foreign city is always exciting… and of course, I’ve picked up quite a few tricks when it comes to shopping on foreign shores.

Choose your prey: Going abroad means that you could find items that are unique to your location (such as handcrafted jewelry), things with local prices below what you’d have to buy at home (hello, Duty Free), and things that aren’t available at home yet. So, try to avoid the temptation to go through the local Zara and look for something really original…

Do your homework before you shop: Obviously different markets or shopping districts will specialize in different types of items. Also, you may be interested to know about seasonal sales (when it comes to fashion, though, this usually happens around January-February or July-August when seasons change). So, ask about the local shopping scene to your hotel receptionist, tour guide, Google, anybody…

Never shop on an empty stomach: Being hungry can easily erode your will to fight for a lower price. Either that, or the irritation caused by a growling stomach might nudge you into an unplanned shopping spree.

Learn the local lingo: Being able to pronounce the local variant of ‘Good morning’ is a nice way to start before you begin haggling. Remember, a little courtesy can go a long way…

Use a calculator: If you can learn how to count in the local language, that’s great. If not, use a calculator to convey numbers between yourself and a merchant to avoid misunderstood prices.

Relax: If you look rushed and overeager to buy something, you lose the upper hand. Smile a lot, stay calm, and try to look slightly uninterested; merchants will sooner or later know that they can’t pressure you to go with a higher price. Besides, you’re on vacation… :)



January 2017
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