Dear Fellow Travelers, Stop Embarrassing the Rest of Us

I was absolutely appalled when I caught up with the news last night and I saw articles about “beg-packing”. It’s a term I’ve never heard before and I hope I will never hear it again. 

“Beg-packing” is when backpackers go traveling, run out of money and then stand on the streets in foreign countries and beg for money. Several Westerners have been seen and photographed in places like Thailand standing in the street with signs asking for money to fund their trip. I’m gonna repeat that again: Westerners in Thailand. Begging for money. 

What kind of sick behaviour is this? I felt incredibly embarrassed when I read this. I sometimes refer to myself as a ‘backpacker’ even though I’m no longer on a strict budget and I travel much slower. I do not want people to get the wrong impression of me or think bad things about me because I’m also a ‘backpacker’. 

But sadly, I see more and more young Westerners ruining it for the rest of us with their poor inexcusable behaviour. In Thailand I often heard fellow travelers talking about how they were riding elephants on the islands or outside Chiang Mai. I’m sorry, but here’s a newsflash: you do not ride elephants and if you do, you’re an uneducated idiot. I know that sounds harsh. Well, tough. 

During my time here in South East Asia I’ve also seen an incredible amount of half naked girls and guys walking around the streets which is basically a way to disrespect the local culture. 
And when I’m in a city and I get up early in the morning I see young backpackers stumbling back to their hostels shit faced wasted. Another thing worth noting: all of the fights in the nightlife I’ve seen has been young Westerners who can’t control their temper or their liquor. 

Guys and girls: you are not doing yourself any favours. You are not doing the rest of us any favours. You are a complete embarrassment and you’re giving all of us a bad name with your reckless and thoughtless behaviour. 
If you cannot afford to go traveling, then don’t go! Go home, save up money and then come back. If you had already saved up money before you arrived, but you ended up spending them all getting drunk on Khao San Road in Bangkok or on Pub Street in Siem Reap then you might want to rethink your life choices and reconsider your priorities. Or wait with traveling until you’re old and mature enough. You do not go and beg in the streets in a country like Thailand or Vietnam. What the hell is the matter with you? 

I’m by no means a saint and I like to have a drink every week, but I’m past that stage where I drink to get drunk. I don’t like having hangovers in the morning and I’d rather spend my time on adventures instead of on alcohol. So boring, right? No. Quite the opposite, really. I’m saving a ton of money and I will not run out of money, because I make sure I have funds to support myself. 
And yes, I’m sure I make mistakes every now and again. We all do. But not to this extend. 

So to sum it up: Dress appropriately. Respect the local cultures. Stop involving animals in your travels unless it’s completely ethical. Don’t get shit faced wasted on your journey – save your money instead. Do not beg for money! 

All right, rant over. I can breathe now. 

8 thoughts on “Dear Fellow Travelers, Stop Embarrassing the Rest of Us

  1. Well said Zascha. It is an embarrasment and quite frankly a kick in the teeth and downright rude when there are so many people who don’t have access to the basics of life such as clean drinking water and a roof that doesn’t leak.
    In order to make my travel funds go further I often do work exchanges – swapping my labour for food and accomodation – and I choose grassroots projects so that I can learn about people and I can hopefully make a little bit of a difference

  2. Iris (https://thevenetianrover.wordpress.com)

    I couldn’t agree more! I love travelling, learning about the culture and locals, therefore I try and gather as much information as I can. I save money and time to understand where I’m going and howbto behave amd then, once there, I always meet people who consider travel something like shopping, or McDonald’s. They do exactly the same things they do in their countries or worse. Lots of young girls and boys travelling not out of curiosity or wanderlust, but trying to impress others with their latest Instagram pic from Luang Prabang or whatever. It makes me so angry too. Thanks for not making me feel the only b***h around here haha 😉

  3. Totally agree. It’s so rude! If you can afford to buy a plane ticket to travel, you are one of the richest people in the world. It’s especially inappropriate in a country where foreign travel is beyond the reach of many hardworking people. You don’t need to beg, just manage your money properly!

    It hasn’t been a good week for Western backpackers, did you see the story about the girl with her feet up on the headrest of a bus in Thailand?

  4. Hey Zascha,
    Thanks for this response. This isn’t the first time this has happened. For some reason though this is the one that went viral. If you can’t do it don’t. A lot of people hustled to get to be able to travel. To see westerns begging in South East Asia is a bit ridiculous. Tons of thoughts here but it’s quite funny to see that these people think it’s ok. However, we seem to only have one side of the story. I’m sure soon enough we’ll hear a response. Let’s see how this place out.
    Cheers,

  5. Seeing this kind of thing in New Zealand right now.

    Travellers in their early 20’s with no budgeting skills quickly running out of money, abusing the ‘freedom camping’ concept here (literally shitting all over pristine beaches, parks, etc.), disrespecting the land and national parks… I haven’t seen any beggars yet but have seen some GoFundMe pages shared on some backpacker Facebook groups I’m on, which is pretty much the same thing. Very frustrating!

  6. Seeing this kind of thing in New Zealand right now.

    Travellers in their early 20’s with no budgeting skills quickly running out of money, abusing the ‘freedom camping’ concept here (literally shitting all over pristine beaches, parks, etc.), disrespecting the land and national parks… I haven’t seen any beggars yet but have seen some GoFundMe pages shared on some backpacker Facebook groups I’m on, which is pretty much the same thing. Very frustrating!

  7. I saw some of them here in Malaysia. I felt sorry for them, or rather admired by their courage to even beg for money to travel, but then when there are too many of them I’m beginning to see them as opportunistic because somehow they get more generosity from the locals compared to the local beggars. It has become a trend among travelers to beg for money in countries like Malaysia and Thailand (to be fair I did see some in New Zealand and Australia). Here in Malaysia there is even a call from local citizens to ask the government to do something about them because they are becoming quite of a nuisance. I really agree with you that if you don’t have the money then don’t travel. Just go back to your country, earn some money and then come back.

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