Worldwide bargaining tips

Here's how travelers can shop like natives

If you’re ready to capitalize on the international marketplace, The Fearless Shopper: How to Get the Best Deals on the Planet (Travelers’ Tales Inc., $14.95) may be your solution. Author Kathy Borrus developed the book to give readers an insider’s view of how to secure great finds from nontraditional venues worldwide.

“As a former buyer and merchandise manager for the Smithsonian Institution Museum Shops, I have traveled and shopped throughout the world,” she says. The book contains information on a variety of consumer-savvy topics, including how to research a country’s specialty, shop safely, get secondhand deals, secure information on bazaars and Third World markets, and participate in fearless bargaining. The second half of the book, a “Fearless Shopper’s Regional Shopping Guide” provides shopping secrets for more than 100 regions.

For an enhanced international shopping experience, Borrus offers these tips:

  • Research before you go. Refer to guidebooks, the Internet and travel magazines to find out the country’s specialties; educate yourself about the price ranges of different products.
  • Decide what something is worth to you. Before you ask the price of an object, determine the most you’re willing to pay for it, then start your negotiation.
  • Ask for a discount. Always ask for a cheaper price. If you’re buying more than one item or very expensive merchandise, you have some leverage in getting a good deal. Don’t be afraid to ask, “Is this your best price?” and be willing to walk away if you don’t like the answer. Also, try to get a better price for paying in cash.
  • Get as close as you can to the source. Select handcrafted goods over factory-made items. The buying experience is much more memorable if you see how something is made or if you meet its creator.
  • Have no regrets. If you’re taking a once-in-a-lifetime trip, don’t pass on an item that you know you’ll regret not buying later-particularly if you’re just haggling over a few cents. Says Borrus, “I meet a lot of people that passed on items that they wish they had purchased.”
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