Taking a vacation to Haiti soon? Or maybe you're lucky enough to spend an entire semester volunteering there! Either way these tips are going to help you get the best bang for your buck.
If you're spending time in Haiti you're undoubtedly going to want to buy souvenirs for yourself and others. ILP volunteers in Haiti bargain all the time to get some seriously great prices with these tips.
So, how do you get the best deals? Bartering is the way to do it, by far.
Ready to shop? Use these tips and tricks and you'll be ready to go. Here's all you need to know about bartering in Haiti —
Where Can You Barter in Haiti?
- Street Vendors
- Street Artists
These are generally places where you should be fine to barter. Be aware of others around you and what they are doing. If someone approaches you on the street trying to sell you a painting or some other knick-knack, you can definitely get that price lower than the original asking price.
If you have any questions about where is okay to barter or not barter, ask locals to see where they recommend. You'll find tons of great opportunities.
Where NOT To Barter
There are a lot of places you can barter in Haiti, and also places you shouldn't barter. Don't barter here:
- Grocery Stores
- Food Stands
- Locally Owned Shops (that are not markets or street vendors)
These places will have set prices just like normal stores would in the US. Pay full price here and don't try to barter.
So ... How Do I Barter?
Knowing how can be hard and take practice! Here are some tips on how to barter so you can get started.
- Know Basic Phrases And Numbers
- Have Fun
- Start Small
- Shop Smart
Know Basic Phrases And Numbers
Knowing some basic phrases like "That's too much", "Thank You", and numbers in French and Creole. This is super helpful while bargaining and will help you make friends. Practice with your ILP group so you can all be bartering pros together. You can talk to your local coordinator about specific phrases you should learn. Your kids can also help you practice your phrases and numbers.
First of all, make sure you are having fun! Make friends with the vendors and have a god time with them as you are bartering. Let them know you love what they are selling and enjoy yourself throughout the process.
They are not offended when you ask for a lower price. It's just the way things work there - they're offering you a much higher price because they're just trying to get the best price they can. Ask for a lower price and they'll work with you to find a price you both agree on.
If you are nervous about bartering just start small! Try asking for 10-30% of what they first offered. It's much, much lower, but that's just because the price they gave you was so high! When you get good at bartering you likely will always pay less than half of their original price.
Choose something little (like a little flute) that you'd like to buy and practice from there. Then as you feel more comfortable you can go for bigger items.
When you find something you are interested in, look around a bit and compare other vendors and their prices. Then, choose where you want to barter. Knowing your options is nice before you start, so you know you're bartering for the painting you love ... I hate it when I get a low price on an item only to walk two stalls down and find one I love even more than the one I just bought.
There's no right or wrong amount for where you should start your price. The more you barter the more comfortable you'll be with the whole process. Remember, have fun as you're throwing numbers around. You'll score some great deals in no time.
Haiti is one of International Language Programs (ILP's) humanitarian programs and you will truly make a difference there as you spend a semester volunteering. Want to learn more about the unique opportunities you'll have to travel and serve in Haiti?
Click the button below!