STORIES of traveling the world for free are written into colorful novels that excite little children before bedtime. As we grow older and the weight of the world presses down on our shoulders, the realization that nothing in life comes for free creates a pessimistic bubble in our aura of optimism.

It is a simple fact of life that to get where you want to be, you have to work for it – especially if you want to travel the world.

But in the age of the internet, hashtags, and crowd-funding, the ethics of working hard to get what you want has flown out the window for a certain type of traveler.


Voyeurism or empowerment: Is it ethical to visit the world’s poorest slums?

Instead of working to save enough to go off on their travels, or finding a job to sustain their indefinite trip, they beg as though they aren’t able to support themselves.

This self-entitled culture has spawned a community of “begpackers”. A type of traveler who makes unskilled items and sells them for extortionate prices to locals or simply relies on boards with “traveling the world with no money, please help me out” scrawled on it.

A post shared by Famega Syavira Putri (@cyapila) on

In most instances of this thoughtless money-gaining practice, the countries where they beg, often has a far lower average annual income per household than what the beggar could be earning if they had even a lowly paid job back home.

So essentially, these predominantly white, millennial travelers are already more privileged than the people they are asking to help them, resulting in a callous conundrum with a simple solution, either get a job like everyone else or go home.

The conscious traveler urged begpackers to leave their unnecessary trend in 2017, but in true disregarding style, it entered 2018 and the internet had no sympathy for these uncouth travelers.

This is definitely not Olite. 😑

Is 'begpacking' 2017’s worst travel trend?

— To & FroShow (@to_and_froshow) January 31, 2018

BegPacking, White privilege or Millennial entitlement? – via @TheTravelUpdate

— BoardingArea (@BoardingArea) January 26, 2018

The trend is rife in Southeast Asia, where backpacking is popular but also feasible on a low budget. Begpacking reached such a critical point in Thailand last year, reports revealed officials had to ask tourists upon arrival to prove they had enough money to sustain their trip before they were allowed to enter the country.

Critics of this practice pointed out that recklessly traveling to a country with no way of supporting yourself is idiotic and will undoubtedly be a strain on the local economy.

“In addition, consuming food, water, space, and utilities without spending cash also diverts resources away from locals who need (and deserve) them far more,” Quartzy‘sRosie Spinks wrote.

Nevertheless, Thailand is quite stressed with the “begpackers” phenomena — the tourists who abuse their privileged passports to enter Thailand and beg to fund their travels.


— Ed Junaidi (@edjunaidi) January 11, 2018

The attraction of free travel has captivated explorers for years. There is certainly an art form of traveling on a budget or wangling deals that allow you to be comfortable at low costs. But begpacking is not an art form, it is lazy.

The message current begpackers are sending out to future travelers is one of utter self-entitlement and reliance on people who have a lot less than them.

Traveling is a luxury experience even if you stay in cramped hostels and only dine on rice and okra. Yet, it seems that fortunate explorers would rather forgo having money in their pockets to start with, than just depleting it while making memories on the road, like conscientious travelers.

A spot illustration for @capilanocourier about beg-packers#illustration #art #editorial #funds #trip #backpacking #cheaptravel #begpacking #travelling #travel #begging

— Juliana Vieira (@julianavii) January 31, 2018

It is this conscious choice that puts every begpacker into one category: someone who is self-entitled and ignorant of their privilege, who sees themselves as humble while trying to elevate their traveler status symbol via handouts.

Begpackers fundamentally seem to forget there is a difference between having to beg to feed your family and begging to maintain a privileged traveling lifestyle.

The post Is ‘begpacking’ empowering the ignorant traveler? appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

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