Begging for Trouble: Why beg-packers are selfish assholes
ANA FRAZÃO // CONTRIBUTOR
TIA KUTSCHERA FOX // OPINIONS EDITOR
Ah backpacking, the classic way to travel on a budget. Many young people go backpacking to visit new countries without spending too much, but recently there’s been a rising trend of young people going “beg-packing” instead.
Beg-packing, for those unfamiliar, is a new term for predominantly white North Americans who, rather than work and save for their big trip, fly to their destination with almost nothing and beg in the streets to fund their trip. While this kind of behaviour has been seen in Europe and other first world countries, it hasn’t had a ton of media attention until more recently, when beg-packers have moved to South Asian countries. This created far more controversy as the contrast between people from privileged countries sitting cheerfully asking for help next to people begging for survival is quite stark. Thailand actually had to create a law to address the increasing amount of beg-packers.
Thailand instituted a law requiring travellers to prove they have at least 20,000 baht ($786 CAD) before entering the country. As of Jan. 26, 2018, one Canadian dollar can get you 25.44 Thai baht. Minimum wage in Thailand is approximately $12 CAD a day. To live comfortably in Thailand, travellers will need around $868 CAD a month according to travel-blogger Shannon O’Donnell, who lived there in January of 2017.
Let’s not fool ourselves, Thailand and other similar countries are cheap to travel to because of a very weak economy. With all this in mind, it’s easy to see how selfish it is to beg people to donate money for your trip that you could’ve easily earned at home when people who would love to have a job are begging out of necessity.
For those considering beg-packing as a method of cheap travel, consider how that impacts the people living in that country. If you really want to go to Asia, don’t beg. Pay for it yourself. It really won’t take too much time to save the amount to comfortably stay there, and prevents a beggar from being cheated of their method of survival. On top of that, one of the biggest incomes for Thailand is through tourism, so by arriving with money, you are actually helping boost the economy.
Beg-packing is a perfect example of white and class privilege. When your fun trip is over and you return to your affluent country, find a job that isn’t based on begging strangers, and tell all your friends about your adventures in Asia, the people you exploited will still be begging for their lives.