What Is A Begpacker? Privileged Tourists Who Leach Off Locals

A begpacker is a tourist almost always from a developed country like Australia, the United States, England, and Germany who travel around the world and beg others to pay for their travel expenses.

Begpackers are extremely common in Southeast Asia, where the cost of living is much lower than most parts of the world. You can see them everywhere in Thailand, Vietnam, and India especially.

When the world opens up for travel again post the coronavirus pandemic, you can bet the begpacker will be the one without masks and with poor hygiene still sitting outside asking for money.

Begpacker Examples

Below are some pictures of begpackers in Southeast Asia.

What Is A Begpacker? Privileged Travelers Leach Off Locals

These people fly to different countries and beg for money from the locals to continue traveling while giving nothing back in return.

What Is A Begpacker? Privileged Travelers Leach Off Locals

The purpose of tourism, especially in a developing country like Thailand, Vietnam, and India, is to bring money into their economy and improve their standard of living.

Developing countries are much poorer on a per capita GDP basis. Here in the US, the GDP per capita is roughly $40,000. Whereas the GDP per capita is $6,600.

To have people from the richest countries come to some of the poorest countries to beg for money to support their travels is a slap in the host country's face.

Related: The Biggest Surprise When First Visiting China

What Is A Begpacker? Privileged Travelers Leach Off Locals

Not only do these people bring in little to no money into the host country, they take advantage of locals who are often less fortunate than them, to give them money out of kindness.

Talk about taking from a poor country and giving nothing back in return.

The worst part is, in Thailand, these Begpackers often post themselves outside of temples.

In Buddhism, Thais and Vietnamese like to do good deeds to “make merit.” It is similar to building up karma or good works in their religion.

These Begpackers purposely take advantage of Thai religious practices by posting themselves outside of temples where they know they’ll get a good profit from religious Thais and Vietnamese.

More white begpackers asking for handouts so they can travel

Living In Southeast Asia

I lived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for four years and I love my time there as a student. The people were kind and I learned about wealth and poverty quite viscerally. The juxtaposition was in my face on a daily basis.

Witnessing so much poverty is one reason why I haven't let myself go as a middle-aged man with a kid now. I've stayed fit because overeating and not exercising would be an insult to the millions of people without enough food to eat.

Southeast Asia is a wonderful place for digital nomads with an online business to set up shop and live. Let's just try to give back to the host country instead of take. We are already benefitting from their hospitality and lower cost of living.

Let's not take further advantage of them by begging for money. Just say no to Begpacking!

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About the Author: Sam worked in investment banking for 13 years at GS and CS. He received his undergraduate degree in Economics from The College of William & Mary and got his MBA from UC Berkeley. In 2012, Sam was able to retire at the age of 34 largely due to his investments that now generate roughly $250,000 a year in passive income, most recently helped by real estate crowdfunding.

He spends most of his time playing tennis and taking care of his family. Financial Samurai was started in 2009 and is one of the most trusted personal finance sites on the web with over 1.5 million pageviews a month.

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