Traveling away from home can prove financially challenging. Especially when you're visiting foreign countries with different currencies and value systems that may appear strange to you. Despite the challenges, you can cut costs on food, recreation, accommodation, and transport, among other travel essentials.
To successfully negotiate your travel costs, you will likely need an open mind, a positive attitude, and some sales and negotiation skills. Keep an eye out for cost-saving opportunities and don't be shy to ask for sale price discounts. Check out these seven negotiation life hacks that can save you money while traveling.
Most westerners are used to paying the asking price for commodities at home. In many cultures, traders expect you to bargain for many of your purchases. Expenses like taxi fares, street wares, clothing, stationery, electronic equipment, and even hotel room fees may be up for negotiation.
On the other hand, bargaining prices in the wrong setting may come off as disrespectful. For example, in some cultures, bargaining the price of cooked food can be considered impolite. Also, bargaining at fixed-price stores such as supermarkets is generally not possible.
During sales training, attendees learn how preparation is key to successful negotiation. Knowing prices and value can give you an upper hand in most negotiation settings. In many places, vendors will ask foreigners for a higher price for the same item than they would charge locals. Take your time to understand the rates and values of whatever you're interested in buying.
It's essential to have a simplified form of calculating currency exchange values. Knowing how much of your home currency translates to how much of the guest country's currency can aid you to assess the actual cost of an item on sale quickly.
For instance, if you're a visiting American in Brazil, you can assume one American dollar is equal to 4 Brazilian reals. Each time a vendor gives you a sale price, quickly divide by 4 to figure out whether it's a reasonable price or if you're being overcharged.
Communication is an integral part of any negotiation. Showing a willingness to communicate on the seller's terms by using their language is one way to gain trust.
You don't have to be fluent in the host's language, but knowing a few phrases can make bargaining easier and smoother. Talking even a little of the local language shows respect and makes you appear amiable. Most cultures are usually more generous to foreigners who make an effort to integrate with their culture.
Also, knowing a bit of the language may deter unscrupulous locals from trying to con or overcharge you.
When bargaining the price of an item, it would be foolhardy to complain about prices while flipping through a wallet full of hundred-dollar bills. Sellers seeing all that cash will be reluctant to budge on price and may even adjust their prices upwards.
Negotiation experts advise keeping your cards close to your chest. Train yourself to keep your money hidden until the vendor has settled on a price. Carry loose change and small bills for convenience.
On the other hand, if you have exact change for the exact sale price you're willing to pay but you've reached a sales negotiation stalemate, then, by all means, show the vendor the money. Seeing that your offer price is all you have can work to persuade the vendor to stop pushing for a higher price. A strong negotiator shows they are willing walk away if the deal isn't right. If what you have can still provide the vendor a profit, they are likely to not want to lose the sale.
When window-shopping or browsing through street wares, it's okay to ask prices. Ask different vendors for the sale prices of similar items to get an idea of what the local price is. However, don't make a counteroffer unless you have decided you want to buy.
Once you have shown interest, ask the price and let the vendor make a discount offer. If no discounts are forthcoming, ask for a discount without naming your price. Only after the vendor has adjusted the price downwards should you make your offer. Make your offer lower than the amount you're willing to pay. Starting low provides you a margin for sales negotiation.
Often, people find it complicated and challenging to get great deals from travel industry service providers. It may feel daunting to bargain prices with multinational hotel chains, airlines, and foreign transport companies. What most travelers don't realize is there are many aspects of travel you can negotiate to save costs.
For instance, consider bargaining your airfare. Did you know that if you buy a ticket and then ticket sales prices drop, some airlines will reimburse you the difference? Virgin America, US Airways, AirTran, JetBlue, and a few other airlines have such reimbursement policies.
Another tactic for reducing big-ticket expenditures is working with a travel agent. An agent can negotiate higher discounts for you, especially if you're using the same agent for air travel, hotel accommodation, and car rental.
Hotel stays can get expensive, especially during tourist seasons. Alternative accommodation options are not as rigid on price and may respond to negotiation for cheaper rates or even free stay. Some more affordable accommodation options include:
Traveling can get expensive. With some know-how, sales skills training, and confidence, you can cut down your travel costs on multiple fronts. You can bargain lower prices on big-ticket expenditures such as airline fares and hotel accommodation. You can also negotiate with merchants to sell you items at similar rates to those enjoyed by locals.