Is the begpackers trend here to stay?

Having the chance and ability to travel the world is what most people see as a privilege. You work hard, save money so eventually you can take to the air and explore the world. Travelling for free is, naturally, a dream that some spend their lives searching for. People sometimes take to exchanging time for free accommodation or completing odd jobs or contracts. In fact, we’ve got our own Creatives Program for those looking to extend their stay in Thailand too. But there’s a new kid on the block, the begpackers trend.

Crowdfunding is big news in our modern world. People are turning to the general public in order to fund their dreams, their businesses and their needs. The funders have helped people with serious diseases, helped people in dire situations and enabled inventors see their products become reality. But donating your hard-earned cash so that someone can go on holiday? That’s not easily palatable for everyone.

What is begpacking?

Put simply, the begpackers trend is travelling the world as a backpacker would, but on a beggar’s budget. They ask for handouts, free items and accommodation and regularly throw themselves on the mercy of the local population.

Not everyone in this trend begs with a hand in the air. Some will busk, some will sell craft and artwork and others will offer their “services”. Begpacking is a trend that is often frowned upon as the countries that it typically takes place in are populated with people whose average income is considerably lower than a basic, minimum paying position in the begpacker’s home country.

Begpackers busking in Bangkok, Thailand

Begpackers Have Become a Meme

During the boom of the meme economy in 2017, begpackers made their mark. Pictures began to rapidly circulate around the internet of ragged looking white people begging on the streets of Southeast Asia. The internet gawped, laughed and ridiculed the trend immediately but that hasn’t stopped it growing in popularity. It’s become a staple among Asian meme communities with no signs of stopping.

The idea sounds preposterous. Buy yourself a plane ticket and then immediately begin to lean on the local society for money and support. Morally it is unsound, in the worst-case scenarios it is incredibly unethical. Giving some people the benefit of the doubt – sure, perhaps some people have lost their belongings or passports but realistically western embassies can help you out in this situation.

begpackers meme

It is clear that the trend is growing. Even the likes of The Guardian newspaper have written some guides on begpacking and encouraged people to share tips. We’d like to think that they, along with other news sites have decided to support and empathize with begpackers purely for the clickbait value, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Besides that, SEA isn’t about to begin encouraging it. In fact, some Thai airports have begun demanding proof of funding on arrival before issuing visas or entry to the country. As Thai visas have become harder to obtain (especially multiple entry), submitting your bank statements to Thai embassies around SEA will become the standard. And we don’t blame them!

Reverse Begpackers

Probably the strangest part about this whole begpacking trend is the opportunistic Asians who visit North America to do what’s being done to their home countries. Yeah, you heard me. There are Asians flying to Canada and the US to beg their way cross-country. The results are pretty hilarious, where tourists and Asians alike are just confused.

reverse begpackers

Backpacking on a Budget

We’re all for travelling on the cheap. After all, staying in a dorm is a cheap and cheerful option. Keeping money tight, being considerate with your spending or working whilst you’re away is part of backpacking. Purposefully taking a flight with no back up, that just sounds irrational and irresponsible. Furthermore, the fact that most of the so-called begpackers are posting their journeys onto social media for more attention and funding just bites of entitlement and recklessness. #rantover