As you walk around the streets, it’s inevitable to see one or two beggars. There are times when seeing them touches your heart and makes you feel grateful about your life. Reaching to your pocket, you’re ready to give a bit of your fortune to them, but wait… the beggars don’t look familiar. It’s like they’re not from our country?
You may have heard or seen foreigners laying on the streets with a cup in front of them and board sign saying “Help Us See the World” or such. They are foreign travellers begging to get some funds for their next destination, commonly known as ‘begpackers’.
‘Begpackers’ started to get noticed as the number rises around the world, particularly Asian countries. Their activity became a nuisance as they are begging in poor countries, alongside underprivileged citizens who are actually struggling for a meal a day. It is only ironic that these foreigners asking for funds to travel across countries to experience a vibrant and challenging life, whilst the country is struggling to prosper its citizens.
Sure, some of them are giving something in return, such as playing music or selling postcards, but they are not selling them professionally. Who would pay for some amateurly taken photographs on postcards, if not for charity?
This defy the meaning of charity, a voluntary help given to those who need it most. Some of these ‘begpackers’ are coming from wealthier countries. Yet, Despite that, travel is not a respectable need when compared to food, clothing or debts, in which what beggars usually use the money for. On the other hand, ‘begpackers’ want to spend their money on traveling as part of their ‘fun and adventurous lifestyle’.
A tingling question may be, “Why do they travel, if they don’t have enough money?”
It’s typical for young people to try to find their true aspirations through traveling. Seeing the other side of the world, going on thrilling adventures sounds like a great way to figuring out what they are going to do for the rest of their lives. However, the unpleasant reality is: not everyone can afford to travel, even backpackering. Flight tickets, hotels, visa, food and other expenses are not equal with their income --which is probably none, considering that they are not licensed to work in the destination country. So, why not just beg for it?
Security wise, some countries ban illegal begging for its citizens, let alone foreigners. Beggars get captured by the police all the time, usually along with illegal street vendors. If local citizens are captured, they would probably get a few days in jail and got released. But foreigners are vulnerable against the law and things will get complicated. Besides, the streets, especially in third world countries, are not safe from criminals and foreigners are easy targets even when they are not doing anything illegal.
Also, ‘begpacking’ would imply ignorance on real poverty. Putting these travelers as part of the people who needs others’ sympathy is disrespectable. They promote the ‘dream life’, unnecessary but desired, while those who actually beg out of poverty are doing it simply to survive.
If you wish to travel, please plan the trip wisely. Think about your budget, not just desires. Never put begging as an option for any desperate situation you might encounter while traveling. If you ran out of money during your travel, due to overspending or having your possessions stolen, contact your country’s embassy. They will be able to provide helpful information and support. Also, don’t forget about travel insurance! Surely you don’t want to spend the rest of your travel funds on hospital fees, if you get an accident.