Updated: May 5, 2021
The term Begpacker is loosely thrown around within the travel world, describing rich, western kids who beg on the streets, mainly in Asia, to fund their travels. The begging can come in many forms and styles, ranging from homemade jewellery, busking, to straight-up holding a sign. If you see no dishonour in this, then sorry, you're part of the problem.
This sparks an ethical conflict, because thousands upon thousands pack a bag and head to Asia, which in turn should boost the tourism industry, not harm it. It's no secret that both wages and way of life are bigger and easier in the western world. In the east there is a daily struggle, jobs are few and far in between, with below-average wage rates. A coarse and semi-judgmental statement but we're sticking to our guns on this one.
When you strip it back, the way it looks is this; privileged western kids are taking money from those desperate and on a low income just so they can continue traveling, rather than finding funding from back home. It's wrong, irresponsible, and enough to taint all travellers with the same brush. People such as Begpackers are the reason backpackers are not always welcomed in the eastern world. The daylight robbery of taking from the poor to keep for the rich is a game only an asshole would play.
There are of course those who are begpacking for genuine reasons; victims of pickpocketing, mugging, lost luggage, etc. Then by all means when you are desperate, you are desperate. However, many westerners fly into countries and begpack to continue their travels as privileged westerners who feel entitled. This form of scum damages the local economy rather than pump money back into it, which is exactly what tourism should provide.
The good news, begpacking is illegal in most countries, and can land a heavy fine if caught. Obviously, the punishment is not harsh enough for it to stop, so it continues to be a common problem, before Covid of course. Vietnam have a national ban on begging on the streets, if one is caught, you could see yourself with some jail time. In Thailand, tourists have to provide proof of funds to support their travel. This usually comes as $525 in cash upon entry. How enforced is this rule? That’s totally up for debate.
What's the solution? Unfortunately for now there isn't one without either brainwashing or more severe forms of punishment, take a hand or two, and see how quickly the begpackers pack up and fuck off home. It's assholes like these that put a negative stigma on those who want to travel, have genuine experiences, and pump money back into the industry. Privileged westerners being privileged westerners. For all you begpackers reading this, get fucked.