Travel Tips: How to Haggle

A few weeks ago, I was in Morocco (look for my fantastic story in an upcoming issue!). It is a fascinating country that is on the serious uptick when it comes to welcoming romance travelers. There is a big push on development, which includes wide, bump-free roads, loads of new hotels opening (Four Seasons, Marrakech—love!—and the Sofitel Essaouria Mogador Golf & Spa) and buckets of leisure activities starting to emerge—I went surfing! And golf courses are gaining ground.

camel ride in morocco

Photo courtesy of Fours Seasons Marrakech 

Of course, what makes the destination so seductive to travelers are the traditional aspects that stand proudly over the country. There is the awesome (and I mean truly awe-inspiring) Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, the active fishing village in the Old City of Essaouria, and the world famous (and infamous) souk of Marrakech. An endless maze of rug sellers, fabric peddlers, and spice vendors, the old-school Moroccan-style mall is a must-see, -do and -experience for every visitor to the Red City. As is the Moroccan (Thai, Indian, parts of Mexico, and Zimbabwean) way, fixed prices are rare and bargaining is expected.

I’m not the best at haggling. I tend to ask for too much of a discount or feel like the hawker needs the money more than I do, but I just scored a little cheat-sheet from the folks at Virgin Limited Edition, a collection of haute hotels throughout the world, and thought I’d pass some of its tips on to you. This is def. going in my carry-on for the next shopping outing.

1. You should never pay more than 40% of the first quoted price. Your first offer should be about a 1/3 of the quoted price, but never half or more.

2. Decide who among you is the haggler. Don’t let the seller see your weakness nor your inability to negotiate.

3.  Always talk in the currency of the location. Using dollars or euros can confuse the conversation—and you!

4. Decide how important the item is to you. While haggling is part of the experience, at the end of the day does 200 Dirhams really break your bank? Be willing to cede on the price if you trust the quality.

5. Watch them wrap it up. Although this has never happened to me, some sellers can switch out the better item while you are looking for your money. Inspect all purchases before handing over the money.

Happy Shopping!!

—Jenna Mahoney