Begpackers – Begging tourists giving budget travellers a bad name?


Let me introduce you to two terms – begpacking and busking. How many of you have heard of these terms?

Begpacking Vs Busking

Begpackers are tourists, mostly westerners (in fact, we’ve never heard of an Asian begpacker) who beg on the roads (mostly in Asia) to fund their travels. It is sometimes written as beg packers or beg-packers.

Busking is essentially street performing (playing music, dancing or any other art form), or selling items of value on the street, (photos, jewellery or paintings for example). We’ve noticed this across the world, both in the east as well as the west.

During our recent trip to Taiwan, we came across two western begpackers with the same modus operandi. Check out these pics.

Begpacking in Taiwan
First begpacker we saw at Ximending, Taipei. See the backpack indicating his so-called seriousness to travel?


Begpacking by Europeans
Money in exchange for hugs. Really?

We move in a little further, and we see the next guy. Wouldn’t trust you even if your eyes are closed.

Begpacking in Taipei
Hugs for money. We did not tip this guy.


Begpacking in Asia
Instead of begging for money in exchange for hugs, he could have got a job somewhere.

The first time we spotted one, we were like “seriously!?” He was telling people he needed money for travelling and was giving hugs in exchange. This chap comes from Europe, had enough money to go all the way to Taiwan, and I’m pretty sure he has friends and/or relatives who could help him if he really needed money. But he preferred to ask the locals -who, for all you know are barely making any money to earn a living, to give him money! Crazy, isn’t it?

Begpacking – should this be encouraged?

Firstly, I’m unable to wrap my head around how someone decides to travel without sufficient funds or a backup plan. I’m quite certain most of us don’t. And even if our cash is running low, it makes a lot of sense to get back home, or at the very least, find a job.

While we don’t really care how they would like to lead their lives, begpacking cannot be a good thing as it might affect all of us travelers, especially travellers on a budget.

Now, you may wonder why am I even talking about this today. Guess how this will it impact you? Soon, more countries will start imposing conditions on us to enter, such as a minimum amount of money as cash or traveller’s cheques (as we enter the country like Thailand imposes on us for example) or you must carry a credit card with a healthy credit limit. Either this or provide proof of hotel reservations and return tickets, not unlike the Schengen visa process that we go through. This will definitely impact genuine travelers everywhere.

I think it is best we do not give money to these fashionable beggars as it will only encourage more shoestring backpackers to do the same. We’ve seen some of these beggars boast on Facebook showing off their luxurious lifestyle funded by begging from locals. Many just pretend to be poor just for fun, for the heck of it.

What do you think about begpacking? Do you think this should be encouraged?


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