How to Negotiate on Vacation

October 7, 2013

negotiate on vacationOne of the most difficult things to do is to figure out whether or not you are getting a good deal while on vacation. If you are in another country, it is difficult to tell whether you or not you are getting gouged.

As you travel, pay attention. And do what you can to avoid getting taken advantage of. Here are some tips for avoiding getting ripped off while you are on vacation:

1. Stay away from tourist traps.

One of the best ways to avoid high prices is to stay away from tourist traps. If you go to the easiest locations, or stick with the sight-seeing route, you are likely to fall prey to higher prices. Restaurants, pubs, hotels, and other services and products along well-traveled tourist routes are going to cost more. When I was in Bratislava, I took the tram to a shopping area that was a little off the beaten path. There I found inexpensive trinkets for purchase. The prices were much lower than what was available along the main sight-seeing routes.

2. Book through a reputable travel agent.

Depending on where you go, and what your situation is, it can help to book through a reputable travel agent who can help you stay at a reasonably priced hotel where the staff is unlikely to take advantage of you.

It’s one thing to be on your own, staying at cheap youth hostels, and quite another if you are older and traveling with your family. In some cases, if you try to book on your own, and then use your own currency to pay, the hotel workers will figure the exchange rate for you – to the advantage of the hotel workers.

This is actually a common tactic. Many vendors along tourist routes will accept your currency, and fudge the numbers while giving you change in the local currency.

3. Bring local currency.

If you want to be able to negotiate on fairer terms, and avoid exchange rate scams, you should bring local currency ahead of time. Look for a reputable place to exchange your currency for the local currency. Know the exchange rate, and look for a location that offers the exchange service for a relative low fee (every exchange will cost commission). Then, armed with the local currency, you can negotiate on better terms.

Even if you pay in your own currency, know the exchange rate. Understanding the rate of exchange ahead of time can help you calculate accurate costs so that you aren’t taken advantage of. If you know the exchange rate, you can spot when someone is trying to fudge the numbers a bit, and you can make sure the change you get back in a local currency is accurate.

4. Practice negotiation ahead of time.

One of the best things to do is to be prepared to negotiate. Negotiation is expected in many other countries. As Americans, we tend to get out of the habit of bargaining, and tend to dislike negotiation. However, in other countries, it is often part of the process. Find out ahead of time what is appropriate for bargaining in the country you plan to visit. Then, practice negotiation ahead of time. It can also help you learn a bit of the language so that you are able to understand a little more of what is happening around you.

What do you think? How do you avoid paying high tourist prices while on vacation? Leave a comment!


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Miranda writes about personal finance almost every day. An experienced freelance writer, she's covered your money online and in print from every angle and is always looking for new ones.

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