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BegPacking hit the travel industry a while back, in all kinds of wrong. A trend that is becoming blatant and obnoxious by the day, one that gives every western traveler a bad rap – like we need another?! Unfortunately, Begpacking is a bad combination of white privilege and millennial entitlement.
What is BegPacking
It is backpackers from western or so-called first world (read privileged) countries choosing to beg in developing countries, to fund their travel. This trend of begging for money to fund travel is most prevalent in South East Asia. A quick twitter search on #begpacker will give you the extent of this issue.
Obviously there is a spectrum in the “begpacking community” as well, some are begging to fund a trip home, due to genuine unfortunate circumstances while others to fund their next drunken-night-on-the-beach venture. And a whole bunch in between.
Current Situation with BegPacking
It is rampant. This phenomenon has grabbed a lot of media attention in the recent past and government officials in Thailand and Vietnam have given statements suggesting a larger crackdown on this population. Immigration authorities have amped-up the questioning at airports, visa/cash requirements, to further ascertain proof of funds.
Locals and local media in these countries have denounced this practice as shameless and one steeped in white privilege.
Begpacking – Is it White Privilege?
Most of the conversation and criticism locally revolves around “rich western tourist trying to scam locals by begging on streets”. Fact is, not every western tourist is rich. Western countries have their own version of poverty. That aside, that begpackers choose to travel and beg only in under developed countries with extremely low cost of living, is text book White Privilege. That they expect locals to help fund their trip is White Privilege. That they romanticize street hawking, think selling knick-knacks or busking their way to “earn money” is ok, is text book White Privilege. Often this is being done in countries that have extremely troubled history with colonialism, political struggle for independence and racial power divide, only adds to the disturbing subtext in begpacking.
These are countries where the local population works extremely hard to survive, let alone afford leisure travel. These are also countries where locals make their living within the travel industry. To expect them to fund your next jaunt, because you decided it was ok to enter their country with insufficient funds, is white privilege.
Begpacking – Is it Millennial entitlement?
Millennials have embraced travel like no other generation has, to an extent where we have been led to believe that travel is the new basic necessity of life. It is not difficult to notice that the begpacking community, by-and-large fits the millennial generation descriptors. The #wanderlust , gap year travel, finding the real you, attaining spiritual tranquility, social media influencer, could well describe the hoards of begpackers that have taken to the streets of South-East Asia. Let me be clear, there is nothing wrong with travel, if you can afford it. And there is a huge difference in traveling on a shoestring budget and begging your way to the next full moon beach party. It is the sense of expectation, that locals or strangers can fund your travel that reeks of millennial entitlement. The failure to recognize the difference between begging for a meal to survive and begging to travel is what makes my argument for that sense of millennial entitlement. That crowd funding online or begging on the streets is an acceptable option, to enable your travel, is millennial entitlement.
I hope begpacking becomes a thing of the past, soon. I want to acknowledge that a lot of the begpackers embark on these journeys with a Utopian viewpoint, to spread love, meet new people and learn about their cultures. However, they are going about it the wrong way around if the itinerary includes begging. And this, ultimately may be hurting the travel industry on a whole. Unfortunately, this trend is a bad combination of white privilege and millennial entitlement.
[…] Fury must contend with the biggest symptom of the social disease of White Privilege: a deep-seated sense of entitlement; a belief that he “followed all the rules,” so technically he “deserves” […]
Well written. An improvement would have been to cite some examples, in the Current Situation with Begpacking section. Also, it was a bad choice to picture a person effectively selling, rather than begging, as a lead photo. Great topic and Interesting analysis, Anshul!
Thanks for the feedback Russ, much appreciated. Yes, now that I read it after so long, could have def done better, title image included. Cheers!
I agree with you. I’ve been seeing more and more of these beg-packers in South East Asia. One of them even placed his numerous photos all over the sidewalk right outside of a 7-11, and got extremely angry when one of the unsuspecting 7-11 customers (who was a local) stepped out of the store and onto his photos. The customer even apologized to the beg-packer and helped him straighten out his photos. Something not right here here.
Thanks for chiming in JJ – those of us that have seen this first hand, will always view it differently than those that only read about it in select blogs/news. It is indeed a grave issue and I would hate to see genuine tourists get rough-ended when govt. brings down the hammer. Every time I visit family in Vietnam, they have horror stories to share about locals and their reaction to this entire “trend”..
Anshul, I am sorry you have come into such controversy over an innocuous blog. I have read some of your blogs and find you balanced. Good luck
Thank you for your readership and support MJEC 🙂 much appreciated! To be honest, I am thick skinned and don’t mind folks challenging my views. Its barely a controversy. More so, I genuinely enjoy conversing with people that come from other end of the spectrum. Cheers!
Anshul = Racist.
white privilege is a slur made up by postmodernists that tries to explain the the inability of non whites to live up to even minimal white standards , oh yeah the same people say that there is no such thing as white people , stick to travel tips , you embarrass yourself
So the (happen to be super rude) African Americans almost forcing people to buy crappy bracelets in front of the Duomo in Milan are part of what? “Black Privilege”? I think I get what you are trying to blog about but how others see your comments as reflective of racism does seem accurate at some level. Even if you aren’t trying to be racist in the comments it could come off like that. On the other hand I guess I should have “White Guilt” over not giving those guys in Milan all my money.
No privilege, no guilt Dan 😉 on a serious note, I dont think the milan example would be the same. If they indeed end up there so that they could busk their way to next travel destination, then its equally wrong.
I think its the shock value assoc with the term white privilege and the fact I am using it. But I stand by every word on the post.
What’s more idiotic: your use of the label “African American” or you ascribing the nationality of American to African panhandlers in Milan? The sad state of you regurgitating the term “African American,” most likely due to media and public school conditioning, has blinded you to its inherent idiocy so much so that you applied the term ‘American’ to any black around the world without thought. Yep, sub-Saharan Africa is actually just a province of Baltimore. Congrats.
Completely agree with Dun, to stereotype and segment an entire group of people based on their race is indeed the very definition of racism. To make matters worse, the author decides he can lump multiple races together based off entirely the shade of their skin; “white”. Imagine if an article was written attacking “brown” beggars or “yellow” tourists. Entirely unacceptable, will be reporting this to boardingarea.com mods.
White privilege exists. Get over it. This isn’t stereotyping either.
How isn’t it, the activity of begging/panhandling is widespread in tourist areas across many developing countries by people of numerous races. The author is singling out and attacking this specific group based solely off of what??? Their SKIN COLOR
He’s addressing privileged white millennial travel fads, not actual panhandling. Sorry you’re so triggered.
Sorry you don’t realize you’re a racist Max. I do not lump people together and label them by the pigment of their skin.
Hmmm. I’m white but I’m racist against whites. Seems legit.
Again, you label yourself and those you attack based off just their skin shade.
Hi Brian, there is a lot to breakdown here. I am commenting on the failure to recognize the difference between begging for a meal to survive and begging to travel. Please look up ‘White Privilege’ – it would tell you that just because it exists does not mean all people white or otherwise are doing something wrong. Its an acknowledgement of the obvious and non obvious biases that exist due to colonial past. I would be happy to have a genuine discourse on this issue, but not if your only input is that I am racist because I termed something as white privilege.
The idea that whites think they have a right and expectation to go to places that were previously under colonial rule and receive some sort of monetary tribute for their presence is a bit far-fetched. In my experience those panhandling for travel do it out of necessity, not because it they feel its their entitled privilige and are trying to exploit the locals. I also imagine fellow western tourists give them far more $ then the locals as they often target heavily touristed areas.
The fact that they choose specific countries, don’t budget well, obviously lie at immigration about their available funds, and know that begging on the street is a possible way out, are serious issues. The entitlement argument also lends well when you do a quick twitter search on #begpacking and read the “brag-worthy, successful” stories about “traveling around the world without money”. And like i mention in my post, there are obviously those that have had to do this due to unfortunate circumstances while traveling in those countries.
So now they’re all lying at immigration? I would think the fact that the vast majority of signs beggars abroad carry are written in English would give you a pretty good indication of whose $ they are targeting.
Your a racist. Plain and simple. You completely painted an activity as “white” with absolutely no basis of fact or relevant research. Then to top it off you use the term “white privilege”. You’ve added nothing of any value for anyone to learn from but instead used your column to spew racist thoughts. You’re despicable.
And furthermore you ass hat…I can’t stand Donald Trump. He’s a moron. But your ignorant misguided views of “whites” are why middle America voted for him. Seriously. Use your travel to educate yourself young man. You need it
I am sorry you feel that way, but you are entitled to your opinion, both of me and the post/begpacking issue. You have not provided any counter arguments to my post and simply called me names. Without getting into the discourse of Critical Race Theory, I can tell you that White Privilege (obvious and non obvious bias) is a thing. And that does not mean every white person is gunning to enforce that privilege. Also, my post is not about white people or America or Donald Trump for that matter. I would love to hear back from you with some real counter arguments to my actual post – Happy to exchange views.
I think his statement that you have provided no hard facts or research on what you are claiming is a very legitimate counter argument. You’re claiming this activity is only carried out by 100% “white” people?
Nowhere have I claimed that “100% only white people do this”. I have used the term westerners to suggest people from developed nations are embarking on these journeys. And I use the term White Privilege as a term to describe the non obvious advantage that maybe driving the expectation that “surely, locals can help me with their change for my trip onward” – without any sensitivity towards a real panhandler for whom its a matter of life or death.
Do you hold whites to a higher standard than other races? Non white beggars get a pass because you have low expectations? The problem seems to be beggars, and the way white privilege is used in this article is just an obvious slur against whites
Assuming you know (and have seen) the conditions “real beggars” thrive in – do you really not see the difference between someone begging to scrap a meal and someone that is begging (in yoga pants, berkinstock and smartphone in tow) to fund their next travel destination? I am sorry you see this post as a slur against whites. It is not.
well there are people in every country that beg for a living ,every city ive travelled to has professional beggars , ive never judged their motivation, if i have extra they might get some food , they might not, there are alot of problems with the arguments in your post , alot of arguments that sound pretty much out of whack with reality.
this begging as a profession lifestyle is as old as cities are, and have nothing to do with whites ,if these countries want to enforce their immigration laws , great , more power to them.
“because you decided it was ok to enter their country with insufficient funds, is white privilege.” this might be the quote of the current age, is this really a problem in the world today? this is just pure projection as it is precisely the opposite of reality.
if you want to make the case that whites shouldnt be allowed to beg in non white countries because theyre stealing begging jobs from the local beggars it would be principled , and hilarious.
I would say keep writing about this problem , say it louder nothing will wake people up more than hypocracy
Look up “white privilege”? It’s a made up term by angry people to rationalize why one person may have more money, status, what have you, then another. It again has no basis in any facts. Come on Anshul… this is a travel blog. Use it to educate your readers on the wonderful places you’ve been (which, ironically, leads one to assume you’re “privileged”) not to rant on a group of people simply because of their color.
Ah, now we are getting somewhere 🙂
So our disagreement is on the origin and usage of the term “White Privilege”. I believe in its existence and have seen it first hand – I have grown up in the “third world” and live more than a privileged life in the “first” (we both agree, I am privileged). My intention with this post was to put down my own thoughts on the issue of begpacking and why people think they can get away with it. The real discussion here should be, why are we allowing our people to go there and beg on the streets expecting locals to help them out…to the next travel destination..
White privilege exists. Get over it.
Good read Anshul