Begpacking Featured Image Credit: Taken in Hong Kong and posted by Rama Kulkarni on the website gal-dem (observers.france24.com)
Begpacking around South East Asia?
Begpacking is the new cringeworthy travel trend that has swept social media over the last few weeks. I have read several articles on Facebook about begpacking – Western travellers, predominantly from UK and USA, though not limited to, who are begging their way around South East Asia (observers.france24.com)
Yep, you read that correctly – begging backpackers (hence the term begpackers) who think it’s ok to beg for the money to fund their next journey or their flight home. They can quite often earn more in one day of work in their home country than many South Asians can earn in a whole month. There’s also the poverty level to be aware of – in many South East Asian countries such as Thailand, approximately 20% of the population are living below the poverty line.
Begpacking – Is it disrespectful?
It seems to be quite disrespectful to turn up in another country, knowing full well that you don’t have enough money to fund your travels and then beg for the funds – financial planning, please?!?! After all, travel is a luxury, whereas most people begging and selling on the streets are doing this for food. (Cue gap-yah)
Is Busking or Selling the same as Begging?
Even if people are basing their money making on entrepreneurial skills such as busking, jewellery making or selling postcards, it could be argued that it is not appropriate to be selling on the streets in foreign countries. For example, some tourists and travellers have been seen to be doing this in Singapore, where their are strict rules and regulations that should be followed regarding selling on the streets. Surely it’s essential to respect the countries laws and customs when we travel? (Cue gap-yah)
Yet an article from the Independent highlights the fact that we shouldn’t be too quick to judge. You never know people’s individual situations – what we are seeing time and time again is stories being stripped down on Twitter without context.
Busking in Israel? Sorry it’s not for me!
In a hostel in Jerusalem, I met a lovely young guy, in his 20s with hair in a ponytail, with a Ukulele. I was missing mine – it was left at home. He kindly offered me the chance to play it. After I had a strum, he said to me. ‘Hey, come busking with me – we can fund our travel! I can play and you can sing!’
Well, I politely declined, firstly because I had commitments back home, but secondly I wasn’t sure how this would work in a foreign country. Also, I didn’t feel that I could compete with this…
It turns out that the Old City of Jerusalem is one of the top places to busk according to Matador Network. Let’s face it, if busking is done professionally and within the laws and regulations of a country, that’s a much more legitimate way to fund your travels than begpacking. Busking is not begging.
Saying that, it’s not for me!
But I’m sure that you will agree that begging to fund your travels is downright insulting and not a legitimate way to fund your trip around the world.
Legitimate ways to Save Money on your Travels
There are plenty of legitimate ways to fund your travels, even though you are not extremely wealthy. I like to secure sponsored accommodation and promote travel destinations on my blog (see blogging). If you would like to make money from Affiliate Marketing, I recommend that you join Awin and put product links in your blog.
There is also the opportunity to do WOOFING (working on organic farms) or voluntary work with a hostel or charity in return for accommodation or food. You can also earn money online freelancing as a traveller.
Always travel with a contingency and a way for someone at home to send you money. When you are abroad, always make sure that it fits in with local laws and customs. But whatever you do, please don’t stoop to this new low of begpacking!
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