Mean traveller strikes back #1 - No money, no problems
Try not to mention money. Money is not the problem - hustlers/touts/scammers will always try to "help" you and lower the price for souvenirs/taxi drive/hotel room/tour. Once you start with the excuse something is too expensive, you will end up in never ending circle of negotiating the price. Assume all prices are double or triple - salesmen always add something up so they have room for giving a small discount. The much better thing to say is: This souvenir is ugly. I don't like it. I don't like the smell of your taxi, I will call another one. Your hotel is in bad location. I don't like this tour, sorry. You see, once you have such arguments, it's much harder to talk you into buying. What is the hustler going to do? Paint the souvenir different color so you like it? Spray his taxi with flower parfume? That's right. He can't do anything, just let you go (Unless he is very creative, which is rare. I once told salesman I want picture of goddess Lakshmi and not the one he was offering me. His reply? But madam, this picture of Lakshmi's sister! I couldn't stop laughing :-)
Mean traveller strikes back #2 - Let's call mommy
When planning ahead, learn what local authorities there are in your destination - it can be tourist police, trade inspection authority or transportation authority, whatever useful you find, write it down. When facing a hustler, threaten him and say you will report him to ______ (insert the specific authority). But Martina, local authorities are corrupt! - I hear you saying. Yes, but you don't necessarily have to call them, at least not immediately. In worst case scenario, you call them and if they request tips, you threaten them with their boss, or even better - with media such as CNN. Sounds silly, but it really does work.
Mean traveller strikes back #3 - Let's play a game
Do you like games? I loooove games! I love acting too and that comes handy when dealing with some really persistent salesmen. Imagine how those local hustler think and feel and what they worry the most. It's not cheating a naive foreigner. Because that's exactly what you are if you fall for their tricks - they just laugh at you. You are a rich tourist anyway, right? But what if you were a bit closer to the locals, what then? Do they fear their peers and community? You bet! I often make up a story about a relative or friend who lives in my destination and use it against hustlers. People outside of Europe or America depend on their communities and shame is their biggest fear (just think about honor killing).
Mean traveller strikes back #4 - Ignorants have easier life
Don't be too polite or generous. Don't get me wrong - I love making friends when travelling, but I know my limits and I hate it when someone plays on my feelings. There were lot of female salespeople on my travel in India who were so good at that - they told me how many kids they had and that I shouldn't break their little hearts. That's exactly what they said - "Don't break my little heart." I told them how mad I was and just left. The best thing to do is to ignore those people. Just act like you can't hear nor see anyone. Ignore their innocent questions where are you from or what's your name.
Mean traveller strikes back #5 - What does dieting have to do with travelling
Have you ever been on diet? I have (and they didn't work :-), but that's not the point. The point is, when you want to be strict with your diet, you make a shopping list, follow it and therefore don't put chocolate or chips into cart. The same applies to shopping on vacation. Make a list of friends whom you want to get souvenir for or exact stuff you want to buy or even write down budget - exact sum you are willing to spend. Don't be shy to show it to touts. It's a perfect excuse why you can't buy another statue/t-shirt/picture. Another trick that works- threatening you will go to tout's competitor to shop if he is not nice to you.
Mean traveller strikes back #6 - Fake it till you make it
Don't ever admit you are in your destination for the very first time. This makes you a target for all kinds of scams. Always say you were here many times, you have friends here (repeat this especially when solo travelling) and know your way around. I know it's a lie, but if it can save your wallet/time/life, it's worth it. Try to blend in, wear local clothes or at least something modest, learn some words in local language, read as much information in advance as possible. When taking a taxi, always write down a landmark with address so when taxi driver asks you, you can add - it's right next to temple xyz. The more familiar you are, the harder is for hustlers to trick you.
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