HOW TO: SHOP LIKE A TOURIST, BUT SMART

Tourist traps. They're everywhere. Ya love 'em, ya hate 'em. Either way, you find yourself stopping for shopping because that's just what we do when we're excited. Especially for the ladies - am I right, or am I right? First things first - BARGAIN. Too scared? Awkward? Shy? Feel bad? 

...Wanna good deal? Then get over it :) 

I'm kinda awesome at bargaining, so I like to work the system to my advantage. Of course, always do it with a smile and crack a few jokes. Maybe even put your arm around the salesperson, give them a friendly hug and squeeze, SPEAK THEIR LANGUAGE, and make it a fun and light experience! You won't have fun bargaining if you're just getting stuffy and grumpy about getting the best deal. Trust me, it can be extremely overwhelming in a market full of thousands of trinkets and things your eyes are just having a hay-day over. Think of it like a fun game - win win for everyone - and be reasonable, kind and respectful. These people work hard. But also realize you can get a better deal than the first asking price for goodness sakes. We have a few tips on how to bargain here


This is what shopping really looks like when you're traveling. A whole lotta this. 
Don't worry, I got the sandals. Phew!


Exciting! Fun money! If the end of your trip is near and you've got a few extra bills or coins, keep them as souvenirs - I always do - and it makes me smile to look back and see all the currencies of all the places I've been. 


During my trip in Guatemala I visited Antigua to see the market and the pretty cobblestone streets. It reminded me a lot of Cusco, Peru. There were all sorts of nice people and tons of trinkets. Among my faves are the bracelets, and I had custom bracelets made for my sisters and I that say triplet 1, triplet 2 and triplet 3 for each of us to wear (I'm triplet 1... get the idea?). Pretty adorable. This guy whipped three custom bracelets out in 15 minutes. I'm impressed.


This is what I mean when I say tourist trap. Those popular destinations like featured here in Antigua, Guatemala, can become a bit overwhelming because it attracts all the tourists and of course we all come for the same reasons - to see stuff and spend our money. Don't get me wrong when I say trap - it's still a great place to see and a lot of times that is exactly why they're traps, it just means the prices will be higher and you will have a lot more haggling going on than you may like to admit. Handicrafters and people selling stuff are going to basically swarm you. Just have fun with it and be nice to people, and life will be all good in the hood.


I found that after all my many many travel experiences throughout the world, and my many many visits to world markets - they are all pretty much the same. From Asia to Central America - the stuff is generally the same, if only varying in minor details and coloring and of course... each country has their own local goods that they're known for. Ecuador and the Panama hats, Peru and the llama/alpaca bags, Guatemala and their leather satchels, China and their jade stones - you get the idea. It's exciting to see the overlap and similarities, but also the very distinct and individual differences between each market in each country I visit. 

When it comes to shopping like a tourist but with smarts, play around with bargaining. Name your price, and start low and slowly work your way up to your "max" price but be respectful and somewhat aware of typical costs for the items they're trying to sell. Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the whole game of bargaining and when you're thinking of the currency exchange and numbers like 4000 dong (Vietnamese currency) or 250 quetzales (Guatemalan currency) sounds like a lot of money, then stop and calculate how much that is in American dollars (or whatever your currency is). I've found that sometimes when I got worked up over 60 versus 70 quetzales, I realized it was a difference of only a matter of cents. And that just makes no SENSE to get worked up over (pun intended).

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5 comments on HOW TO: SHOP LIKE A TOURIST, BUT SMART

  1. i lived in Shanghai for a few months, and i learned quickly the art of bargaining. and i totally loved it! it became a game and it was so funny sometimes. i admit, sometimes, though, it just got old. oh the joys :)

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  2. i always try things on that are too small or look totally goofy on me to get the sales person to laugh!
    works every time.
    especially if you don't speak their language.

    xo the egg out west.

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  3. This is such good advice! I've been to Mexico a few times and at first feel really bad about bargaining, but I realized that it was okay to do it if I was being fair! Also, this is really random, but have you girls heard of the song "Fly Girl" by Will.I.Am? It just came on my iTunes, and I know that's your maiden names, so.. check it out, haha. You girls are great, I love reading your blogs!

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  4. It's so fun reading about this!! China is a great place to bargain and my family and I have become pretty darn good at it!

    xx, Annie

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  5. ahhh i LOVE this post, wish i read something like this before the bahamas. haha thanks ky, can't wait to shop in a foreign country with you. all those shoes are AMAZING

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