How to Bargain Shop When Traveling Abroad

Ryan and I are headed off on our next exciting adventure in less than a month.  We are headed to the UK, Nepal and India!  Ryan has a speaking engagement and we’re lucky enough to make a vacation out of it as well.  I’ve been really excited to tell people about our awesome summer plans!  When I tell them where we’re going I get a long stare and a “that’s interesting” response.  Generally, when traveling abroad most people think of Europe or perhaps a vacation in the Caribbean.

I’m blessed to have a traveling partner in crime who isn’t afraid to go to the most exotic and exciting places.   We’re really in the prime of our traveling years.  When else is a better time to take a vacation to see one of the oldest and most culture rich countries of the world?!  I’ve been to Europe a few times but my love affair with traveling and experiencing a truly different culture began when we went to Turkey for our honeymoon.  Experiencing a culture–from religion, food, architecture, language, rituals, and customs–that was completely different from what I’ve ever know or seen was the most amazing experience.  I know Turkey was just the mild tip of the iceberg; there’s a great big world out there filled with so many unique people and ideas that are vastly different from my own.  I can’t wait to explore India!

When we travel, I always like to bring something home that commemorates our trip and every time I look at it, it reminds me of our travels.  In Turkey, we bought a whole host of things.

My favorite, is the flokati rug…


The bargaining experience, however, is not my favorite.  After we figured out a price (which was decided on a yellow note pad and we wrote down numbers until we got to the “right” number) he tried to give us less Lira (Turkish currency) change back.  Ryan got up in arms, he got up in arms (you see that sword don’t you!?!) and he took the already wrapped up bag back from me and tried to give us all the Lira back.  We eventually settled on getting a few Turkish eyes and we all moved on our way!

We also go these sweet jackets in Turkey!  This was our 23 hour layover in Paris on New Years!


I get compliments on my jacket everywhere I go, it’s so different and the red makes it so much fun!  We searched for Ryan’s jacket for hours in the Grand Bazaar; although the jacket took us forever to find it was worth the wait!  Many designers send their patterns to Turkey because of the amazing textiles they have (leather and fur) available.  This jacket came from an Armani cut.  Artisans that create these jackets for big designers, use the patterns and sell the same jacket under the factories name.  Hence the designer cut at a fraction of the price!

Ryan can drive a bargain, I mean one of the hardest bargains you’ve ever seen.  I think he still has his lunch money from 3rd grade he’s that good at being thrifty.  Me on the other hand, not so much, I get too emotional about a purchase…  This is where I lean on my husband for his advice.

Here are a few rules to live by when bargaining.

1. Know the market place.  If you have your eye on a specific item, chances are there are going to be a few different dealers with the same or similar product.  Be sure to scope out all the shops and not buy the first one you see.  Get a good feel for the typical prices of that particular item.  Also, in the case of the flokati, we saw a bunch of them around $100 but the one we actually purchased was much larger, fluffier and fuller then the other ones we saw.

2. Read the person.  Bargaining is more of an art form my husband would say (it’s the only form of art he’s good at ;)) and being able to read people is really important.  It’s not really about throwing out a number, it’s more about being able to read what their final number is and being able to push them to that number.  For the rug, the gentleman with the sword threw out a number and Ryan said “no way, give me something I can work with” and hence the dance began.

3. Pick a final number and stick with it (this one is for the emotional type like myself).  I ask myself, “what is this worth to me, and what number am I NOT going over”.  I have to draw hard lines in the sand when it comes to purchasing, some items just aren’t worth what the seller is asking.  This is where you have to learn to walk away and cross your fingers you see something else (hopefully better) come across your path!

Here are a few things I’m dreaming of purchasing in India.

Textiles — from rugs to silks to scarfs.  India boasts beautiful, commanding colors in all of their artistry.  I’m dreaming of finding the perfect 11×14 rug for the dining room.  And gorgeous table cloths and perhaps fabric for pillows in the living room.

Marruecos febrero 2012

Source Maiden India

Blue and white pottery from Jaipur


Source Rajastan Visit

Brass Artisan Candlesticks

lamps (71) (1)

Source Lake George Steamboat

Do you travel abroad much?  Do you have any bargaining tips?


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  1. May 19, 2015    

    I’m so jealous of your trip! I would love to be heading to India to shop their gorgeous textiles! Unfortunately I have nothing to add to your bargaining tips because I am the worst bargainer ever!
    Kris {Driven by Decor} recently posted…Summer Style: Tropical DecorMy Profile

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    • May 19, 2015    

      Kris, I’m beside myself excited for this trip. This has been the most difficult international trip I’ve ever planned but I know the experience (and the goods I’ll tote back) will be amazing! I can’t wait to share my finds 🙂

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  1. Textiles and Furniture In India | My Polished Imperfections on July 12, 2015 at 8:19 pm

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Hello there, my name is Jessica and I'm so glad you've dropped by! I am a weekend DIYer, a die-hard antiquer, and a lover of all things vintage. Join me on my never ending journey of turning our house into our home!