Of pearls and vendors

How do you deal with touts when you travel? In my years of travel, I’ve learned to ignore them, as engaging them (or in some extreme cases, just having a brief eye contact) leads to non-stop badgering to buy or contract their services.

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Unfortunately, I wasn’t share this advice to my cousin, so she got annoyed into buying a couple of pearl earring. The seller was quite persistent, even employing a guilt trap: “please buy, so I can make a sale.”

Now, I’m all for helping the local communities I travel to, but this guy isn’t the only person in this community. There are other people here trying to make a living, and selling things that I actually like and need. Like danggit. Lots and lots of danggit.

How do you deal with touts?

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Article by Nina Fuentes

Nina doesn't aim to travel to every country in the world -- she just wants to travel to the places that means the most to her. She started traveling in 2006, and hopes to travel for as long as she can. Her travel blog, Just Wandering won the Best Travel Blog in the 2010 Philippine Blog Awards and in the 2011 Nuffnang Asia Pacific Blog Awards.

This Article Has 5 Comments
  1. I smile and just say, “Hindi po, salamat po.” Then I move along na na NR kahit mangulit pa. I find it easier if I let them be and to not just stress about it.

  2. The Guy says:

    I receive a lot of attention from touts in Asia and in particular China. Mind you having a caucasian face doesn’t do me any favours.

    I have the constant “you wanna buy a watch” and other less repeatable offers. To be honest if I’m not in the mood to discuss or be polite I just walk on by and pretend to not speak English. If I’m in a better mood I’ll give a polite “no thanks” – however this engages them and can lead to unwanted attention.

    I understand your point about they may depend on your income. In this situation I like to be more wary of my surroundings. The really pushy sellers and touts seem to do okay and want me to buy things I really don’t want at extortionate prices. I’d rather identify the quiet sellers in the background who don’t get all the attention. Since they get less busy they are probably more worthy of my (honestly) limited funds.

  3. Sometimes saying “sorry, no” accompanied with just a teeny tiny smile doesn’t work 🙁 If possible, it makes the touts even more persistent. I think being bestowed with a smile gives them hope that there’s a possibility that you’re a softie/potential customer-slash-victim . These days i just avoid eye contacts. That’s in tourist areas or while traveling.

    But in regular non-travel life, it’s better to do eye contact and gently but firmly say no thanks, in my experience that is.

  4. Uptourist says:

    you just say no. That will be enough to push them away. When they keep on pushing, just say no again and firmly look them in the eye.

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