The Number One Rule for Travel


What is Our Number One Rule for Travel?

We’ve often been asked, “What is your number one rule for successful travel in a foreign country.” It’s a great question that really has no wrong answer.

Shortly after arriving in San Ignacio, a small town in the humid jungles of western Belize, we were instantly reminded of our rule – never accept the first offer!

This rule applies for everything from hotel accommodations, booking tours, selecting restaurants, purchasing souvenirs and especially organizing transportation. The reason is simple, foreigners can be easy pickings and often don’t know what a fair price is. In some cases the first offer sounds reasonable. Show discipline, 90% of the time it isn’t!

We can come up with hundreds of stories where this rule has proven true, but let us share our most recent experience.

Temple 1 at Tikal, Guatemala

Having just arrived in San Ignacio after a two hour private transfer from Belize International Airport, we were eager to organize our transportation from San Ignacio to Tikal Guatemala.

Taking the advice from other travelers, we decided to stay in the Tikal National Park for two nights. This meant that booking a day tour of the ancient Mayan City was no longer an option. We had heard horror stories about the Belize to Guatemalan border crossing so we decided that a direct transfer was the best option, even if more expensive.

Within seconds of leaving our hotel to search for food, we were approached by a friendly tour operator who had the solution. He would take us to a hotel just outside the Tikal National Park, door to door service, for $45 per person. From what we had researched online prior to our trip, the offer sounded decent.

Temple 2 in Tikal, Guatemala

This is where the discipline of our rule came in to play – never take the first offer.

We liked the guy, but politely declined and said we would return after lunch. San Ignacio is a small town with only few restaurants, so he made sure we were always within eye-shot. Only minutes into our meal he returned.

Surprisingly he was now able to offer us $30 per person for the direct transfer! Apparently the price had dropped because he had booked another Tikal tour, which meant he could charge less. Ironic, given that only 15 minutes had passed and he spent most of his time in the restaurant chatting up tourists.

Sticking with our rule, we decided to check out a few other tour operators before making a final decision. The first travel agency we visited offered us $15 dollars per person as their first and final offer.

It was a quick decision – Deal!

By not accepting the first offer we had cut the price by 2/3! Patience and discipline had saved us $60.

Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a first time vacationer, at some point this situation will present itself. If we can share one travel tip, this is it – never take the first offer!


Have you had a situation where you accepted the first offer and regretted it later?
Share your experience by leaving a comment below!

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About Traveling Canucks

Cam and Nicole Wears are newbie parents living in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. A passion for travel and outdoor adventure has taken them to over 70 countries on 6 continents in the past 10 years. Learn more about their story here. Follow them on Instagram and subscribe to their monthly newsletter.