Begpackers : Backpackers Traveling Without Money and Without Dignity
Begpackers are on the rise in Southeast Asia, particularly in Thailand, and they are getting to be a nuisance for the locals. Instead of becoming a source of tourism income for a third world country, many visiting Westerners compete with the country’s poor and needy by begging or street-selling.
Caucasian backpackers practically begging for money in the country they visit have been branded as begpackers. They wear signs stating,
”I am traveling around Asia with no money, please support my trip.”
Some others sell postcards they got from other Asian countries, or produce disjointed sounds of ukelele and harmonica music, whilst displaying a sign in their collection box that says
”We are traveling around the world, please support us.”
Asians are known for being friendly and hospitable, and many of the locals are indignant that those type of tourists are taking advantage of their cultural trait. Locals see white begpackers as the more privileged, because their euros or dollars have greater buying power in the countries from whence they beg. Currently, the exchange rate for one euro is 35 Thai baht, while one US dollar is equivalent to 31 Thai baht.
Still, a group of white begpackers can be seen shamelessly sitting on streets, dressed like some hippie from the 60s, begging for money or selling something as insane as hugs. If it was the other way around, a Thai tourist begging in the UK or in the US will likely be reported and deported.
Other Ways to Backpack with Little or No Money
Backpacking with little or no money is nothing new; but back then, hitchhikers embarking on a trip without money kept their dignity intact by taking on odd jobs. Others who run out of funds simply ask someone from their family back home to send them money: promising payback once they land a temporary job.
Some tourists have had the misfortune of losing their money by becoming victims of theft or burglary. As recourse, they go to their respective embassy and ask for assistance so they can go home. The more privileged travelers usually carry credit cards as fallback, in case they run out of money while traveling.
Begpackers in Thailand Have Prompted Formulation of Stricter Visiting Policies
Apparently, begpackers are simply following the concept of crowdfunding; that of soliciting money from people willing to contribute minimal amounts to fund a worthy cause.
The idea though, does not sit well with other Western tourists because any action taken by the government of Thailand to address the growing number of begpackers, will likely affect all visitors. Actually, latest reports have it that Thai immigration officials will introduce a new policy. Tourists or foreign students will be required to present proof that they have at least $748 or 20,000 baht in cash, before they receive permission to enter Thailand.