Meet The “BegPackers”: Backpackers Begging Their Way Around Asia

Nobody knows when and how it really started, but now they are simple here: BegPackers. Most sightings so far seem to be in South-East-Asia, along the well-established traveler’s trail leading through Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and finally into Malaysia. There haven’t been many sightings in the Philippines yet, but it’s only a matter of time until the first ones reach these shores (or let us know on our Facebook page if you have already come cross any).

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Begpackers-thailandBegPackers in Bangkok. Source: Twitter

What is a BegPacker you ask? It’s the latest evolution of the gap year traveler, the millennial version of the back pack carrying low budget tourist, and a worrying phenomenon that seems to be on the rise. Traditionally, to finance a gap year, young adults (mostly coming from Western countries) would save money and then budget their trips accordingly. Working while journeying through far away countries was also always a popular way to replenish funds, ensure a continuation of the trip, and pick up some important life skills along the way. These days, it seems, the ‘saving and budgeting’ part has often been replaced by a new ‘spending and then begging’ approach.

Social media is currently awash with images of young adults from western countries sitting at the roadside in various Asian cities, begging for money so they can continue their trips around the region. Unsurprisingly, the sight of cash strapped hipsters trying to refill their wallets after spending it all on drinks and hotels as some claim (instead of budgeting properly and living within their means) is causing mixed reactions, both online and offline.

In general, the consensus appears to be that asking strangers for money so one can continue one’s trip is seen as very inappropriate, especially if the shortage of funds was the traveler’s own fault and if, as is often the case in relatively poor Asian countries, there are people in genuine need who would be more deserving of donations. Travelling the world is a luxury and not a right, so one should prepare and budget accordingly. In case of a genuine emergency, any western tourist can always approach their local embassy and ask for help ranging from emergency funds to repatriation. Many opinions expressed online seem to say that asking strangers for money in this way is simply a sign of being lazy, and having a feeling of entitlement that seems quite common in the Kickstarter generation.

The astonishing phenomenon of western backpackers who beg for money, play music, or sell knick-knacks in the streets of southeast Asia to pay for their trips or to purchase their ticket back home seems to be a relatively recent one. If we should blame ‘those horrible millennials’ for it, or if it has other causes remains to be debated. Fact is that prominent areas like Bukit Bintang in Kuala Lumpur or Khao San Road in Bangkok have become hotspots for Begpackers and one would hope the day doesn’t come where this trend also becomes visible on the roads of Metro Manila.

Let us know what you think about Begpackers in the comments!





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