Most readers of this blog already know my response to that question. My ire was raised by a recent discussion that was taking place on Facebook. I had never even heard of the term beg-packing prior to this, so it was enlightening to say the least. Beg-packers is the term used to describe young travelers from first world countries (looking at you America! ;-) ) with little or no funds who have taken to begging on the streets of third world Asian countries such as Thailand and Malaysia to fund their travels. Who’s to blame for this madness? Parents? Society? or just plain old ignorance?
Beg Packing is a disturbing trend. I’m guessing from the name, these travelers are mostly backpackers who travel maybe during their gap year or recent college graduates who are “looking for themselves” whatever that means.
Beg-Packing is Acceptable:
A few people on the discussion felt like this was an acceptable way for these youngsters to fund their travels. I heard things such as “at least they’re not stealing” or “you are not forced to give them money” etc. Some said it was the same as “busking”. Busking is quite common in big cities like New York and London where you see young musicians singing, dancing and entertaining for money.
I think there is a slight difference. Busking for the most part are for basic necessities like food and rent or schooling. Most of the people are quite talented and provide a service of sorts for the money. Begging on the other hand is just that. A sign that says “Please support our travels” has no value to the audience.
Another thing l read was that we didn’t know the circumstances behind the begging. They might have been robbed of funds and are begging to fund their return trip home. If that were the case, I think their signs would reflect that. It might even make people more sympathetic to their plight.
Beg-Packing is Disgraceful:
Yes. I am on this side of the fence. Travel is a privilege, not a right! You can argue all you want about travel being in your blood and something you’ve dreamed of doing all your life. That’s all well and good. Asking someone to fund that dream is obnoxious at the very least. The world and internet are full of travelers. Bloggers are 2 cents a dozen (we’re so common that even a dime is too pricey). Most fund their trips the old fashioned way. Through hard work and savings. They might be doing this on the road by working online, volunteering, or working overseas as language teachers etc. I have previously written about how l feel regarding the idiot dream sellers. The crowd that sell the quit your day job to travel or travel for free like l do pariahs.
A lot of impressionable kids think it is an easy life. Think about how many times you see the headlines touting the same drivel. The “live in Thailand for $500 a month” headlines. Even if that were true, conventional wisdom would dictate that one should save up a few months worth of living expenses before taking off, not “Oh..I have $500 saved, I’m good to go” or am l wrong in that thinking?
These beg packing signs lead me to think that these beggars left their homes to live this dream without a plan and really believe they deserve to travel and that people should contribute to that. About a year ago, I wrote how my brother needed life saving surgeries in India. His visa was denied several times. He finally had to bring a medical doctor with him to the embassy in order to get approved, never mind the fact that he weighed less than 70 pounds and could barely walk. His nationality (Nigerian) worked against him. His papers were scrutinized, double, triple and quadruple checked.
He had to prove that he had the funds to cover the surgery, hospital fees, living expenses during recovery, and of course a return ticket etc. Are these requirements required of people from first world countries? Of course not! An American can visit freely (no visa fee), doesn’t have to show any funds and even though you’re supposed to have a return or onward journey ticket, it is rarely checked. The irony is that these are the same people now begging on the streets of Asia! Just try and imagine if these beggars were of African, Eastern European or even Asian descent? How quickly would the cops have arrived to remove them?
Would these kids beg pack in America? probably not. It leads me to believe they know right from wrong, yet they find it acceptable to beg for charity in the very countries where people struggle on a daily basis to eke out a living. A simple job at McDonalds for a few months would go a long way towards funding a trip and satisfying wanderlust, but it seems that they would rather not do that. Too easy! Begging is a last resort for people from third world countries and most, at least in Nigeria consider it utterly shameful. If this was happening there, these beggars would get a good talking to and certainly wouldn’t make a penny.
Beg-Packing: Who’s to blame?
These kids are growing up in the age of Instagram where the race is on to show yourself in the most beautiful, picturesque place in order to invoke envy from online friends. Imagine that! Showing off to people you don’t even know in real life and ones that certainly don’t care about you one way or the other. Very warped. Are we as voyeurs responsible for this? The stakes keep getting higher and higher. The urge to outdo is real. They will destroy national monuments in their quest for.. recognition?. Instagram fame? It used to be wanting to follow in the footsteps of athletes. Now everyone wants to be IG famous and rich. Talent has taken a backseat.
The above picture is in jest for the most part. It was a cold night in Seville and l was certainly dressed for it right down to my super comfy shoes.
Parents to blame for Begpacking children?:
Where does this sense of entitlement come from? I have a feeling it might be a combination of this and society. When l look at the kids in the story for example, it’s not a lost fact on me that these could easily be my kids (had l had them very young, extremely young..hahah! ;-) ). What sort of upbringing did they have that makes them think begging is okay? With the kind of upbringing that l had, and l suspect a lot of people my age did too, this would definitely be okay. You wouldn’t even dare to think of it. The thought of bringing shame to you and your family would have prevented it.
Nowadays, I have to say that l feel people as a whole have no shame. This is quite sad. It’s a good thing l have no kids because l think yep! I would have beaten the crap out of them when young to turn them into decent human beings. Now, there is so much coddling and being “friends” with your kids crap. I still remember interviewing for pharmacy technicians at my old job and having at least 2 of the parents come in with their kids for the interview..and actually wanted to sit in or the dad who flew all the way from Boston to Houston to take the child (19!) to a doctor’s appointment when he got sick in college and was doing everything for him. How is that kid supposed to go out in the real world and not get eaten alive? It’s a disservice to the children and l doubt they would thank you for it in the future. They might however return home and you have to take care of them till you die!
If you’re beg-packing, or are thinking of becoming one and you’re reading this. I say to you. “Cut that shit out and get a freaking job!”. Save up to travel. All the working stiffs don’t do it to because they love working. If you can’t afford to travel, stay the f**k home and save up. There is no shortcut to the good life no matter what anyone tells you. It is and always be the same thing. WORK and/or SAVE or hit up your parents, not the people who can ill afford it. There is my rant for the day :-).
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Have you ever heard of beg-packers? If not, what do you think of this disturbing trend of begging to fund travel? Do you think beg-packing is acceptable or it is an utterly shameful way to raise money?