If you want to get better prices on things when you travel, look for shops that have cheaper real estate. As a traveler or tourist, you're very likely to spend most of your time on the major streets and roads.
These places have the highest prices.
One example that really struck me was in Saigon, Vietnam. On one of the main roads is a nice little restaurant. Next to it is a different shop, and then there's an alley.
If you walked down the alleyway a little bit, there's another restaurant - with the exact same menu, except the prices are 20-30% cheaper.
At the restaurant on the main road, there'd only be foreigners, mostly tourists. The one set back in the alleyway had more Vietnamese people and expatriates and savvy travelers.
It wasn't just the same menu - they used the same kitchen and everything. That's paying for their real estate.
It can feel kind of safe at first to eat and shop on the main road, but in the vast majority of international cities, you'll be fine if you wander around sidestreets. Prices will be 20%, 30%, sometimes even 90% lower for similar quality - sometimes for the exact same goods and services.
There's times when you want to pay higher prices for the same goods - a bar or nightclub with a great view, or one that draws a great crowd. When I'm shopping for vitamins in a country that doesn't have great English, I'll look for a more expensive pharmacy with good real estate, figuring it's more likely their vitamins and drugs are legit.
But 90% of the time, just wandering off the main streets gets you much the same quality for lower prices - sometimes better quality for lower prices. Remember it when you travel - if there's lots of foot traffic, the real estate will be expensive. And the real estate costs are always priced into the products you buy.
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