Asian Student Commission

April 14, 2017

Addressing the Trend of “beg-packing” Travelers in Asia

The concept seems like an irony wrapped in an enigma when White backpackers are seen trending on social media begging for money on the streets of countries like Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand. Backpackers can be spotted with signs saying “I am traveling across Asia without any money, please help”, or “Need money for ticket home.” A lot of people in both the local and online communities are questioning the privilege of these tourists, some with anger and disgust, and some with just pure curiosity. Why you would choose to travel the world and expecting the locals of some of the poorer countries in the world to subsidize your personal vacation? Tourism alone already brings in more harm than good to the local history, community, and lifestyle, let alone expecting a free handout. Keeping in mind that traveling is a luxury not a necessity that only so many could even dream of, many angry commenters asked “If you need money so bad, then why not sell your iPad?”  Trying to be balanced here, some backpackers decided to earn money through either selling their art work, photography, or performance through music or dance. For those tourists I say good for them, but for those sitting on the side walk expecting handouts and stealing opportunities away from actual starving men and women who could actually use the money to eat a proper meal, pay for their children’s school supplies or clothing, I say check your privilege. I might not understand all of these tourists situations that drove them to beg for money, it could be a disastrous worst case scenario happened, it could be partying and drinking, or t could be other extra luxury they could not afford.  However I shall say that, it takes privilege and money to even make it as far as Southeast Asia for many white backpackers, so what are the chances they do not have savings or even family or friends who could help them out that they had to turn to begging at locals?