Begpacking – the latest trend in white privilege!

In what seems to be the latest trend of travel white privilege run amok, apparently there has been an uptick of ‘begpacking’ around the world.

For anyone who’s wondering – just like I was before I came across the term- a ‘begpacker’ is apparently mainly a traveler from a western country who decides to backpack, but since they don’t have a lot of funds to do so, they resort to begging. I learnt this after I ran into this LeMonde article. For the purposes of this post, we will refer to these ‘begpackers’ as entitled idiots completely unaware of their white privilege.

Apparently, these entitled idiots completely unaware of their white privilege (or EICUWP, I guess) are causing somewhat of an invasion in Asia, in countries like Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, China and Malaysia. They visit those countries in the hopes of surviving on a budget of under a few dollars a day, and when they discover themselves blowing through their budget in what one could only assume is too many Pumpkin Spice Lattes, they have to resort to begging for money in order to continue their bullshit spiritual self-discovery low budget trip.

While ours is a Luxury Travel blog, I am the first one to commend people for traveling whatever means necessary, and I did have my international travel virginity lost over budget travel. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t call these asshats out.

These people are so blinded by their white privilege that they don’t even realize the stupidity of their actions. They visit exotic places to have adventures and experience the local culture, or so they say. In reality, they fail to see that they’re in some of the most poverty stricken countries in the world begging for money for their next excursion or activity, while the person next to them is begging for coins so that they can afford to feed their families.

Lost on them is the fact that – especially in the US – most people would recoil at the thought of this happening in our own country, but lucky for them, they would never be exposed to this. Why? Because the US, and most western countries for that matter, institute a minimum available funds requirement to be allowed in. So why on earth would westerners think this is an acceptable thing when going abroad?

I, for one, can’t think of any other explanation than pure and simple ignorance dusted with white privilege and filled with a bit of millennial #blessed crap. These begpacking people need to wake up (#woke?) to the fact that travel is something only a very select group get to enjoy on a regular basis. Most people cannot afford to travel out of their home towns, let alone internationally, and some people don’t even enjoy the right of traveling outside of their country because their governments do not allow them to do so.

I consider myself extremely fortunate and immensely thankful for being able to travel, especially as often and as luxuriously as we do, and I will encourage everyone else to do so as well. I would also encourage everyone to be more socially aware. If you’re on of these entitled idiots completely unaware of their white privilege, and I seriously doubt that they’re reading our blog, I would ask you to take a deep look at yourself and see how extremely ridiculous and insensitive it is for you to do that. Shame on you.

What do you think about begpacking? Does it enrage you as much as it does me?

Author: Ben Nickel-D'Andrea

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  1. you will find the same tune with vloging on Youtube, plenty of Expats surviving on shoestring doing ebeggng on Patreon and paypal. it is just pathetic and hard to watch, yet many just dont see the underlining message these expats doing to themselves and national reputation.

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    • Ugh. Another word I *detest* is “expats”, which is used to mean white western people moving to other countries for work. The correct word is immigrant.

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  2. You are the definition of a racist. You have a solid point that the behavior of these beggars is abhorrent, but then you resort to simply chalking it up to the color of their skin. Disgusting and hateful. Target the behavior, not the race.

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    • Maybe? I’m torn on this one so I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, but let’s be honest; no one other than westerners do these things, and only when they go to impoverished, “exotic” destinations. It’s the mystification of the unknown a sort of orientalist world view. So I have no issues calling both the behavior and the culture who does it.

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  3. Woah…is this *REALLY* a thing now?! Who actually gives them money? The locals? Other tourists? Isn’t there a really simple solution to this….if foreigners are caught begging the host country should revoke their visa/permission immediately and deport them…or deliver them to their local embassy and make them their embassy’s problem!

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    • Apparently so. I have no clue who does, although I would assume it’s other westerners who take pity on their ‘being stranded on a dangerous land’ or something of the sort. I certainly wouldn’t give them the time of the day.

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  4. “white privilege”…”white privilege”…”white privilege”…

    You sound like a racist idiot.

    And “white western people” moving to other countries for work are not immigrants.

    They usually work on work visas for a certain number of years, and then are obligated to leave the country to their home country or another country to work on yet another work visa.

    That is not an immigrant.

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    • Hi Alan. Thanks for illustrating white privilege for us; I couldn’t have said it better myself (though I did). People moving to other countries for work is LITERALLY what an immigrant is. If it’s just for a few years, then they are migrants instead, you know, like the ones who pick your grapes and lettuce for example. I’d suggest you consult these terms in the dictionary, you might accidentally enlighten yourself.

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      • I agree with Alan. An “immigrant” is somebody who moves to a foreign country with hope of becoming a citizen &or permanent resident, while an “expat” is somebody who lives/ works (or even retires) in a foreign country, often for an employer/ job based in his home country, while keeping his citizenship & allegiance to his home country.

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  5. This whole BS concept of white privilege is supposed to be something that ALL WHITE PEOPLE benefit from. Not all white people do this beg packing nonsense. But apparently now that BS concept can be applied to any and all situations just because a person is white. Apparently only white people are ignorant. Another BS concept. These people are just ignorant it had nothing to do with them being white. Just like there are a lot of non white people that are just plain ignorant. This article is nothing more than racist drivel written by someone who apparently can’t take the time to do full research into the who what and why. Shameful. Let’s just keep feeding the racism fire.

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    • Hi Terri. Thanks for stopping by. I absolutely agree with you, people who do this are terribly ignorant. And nowhere in the post did I mention that ALL white people did this. By all means, this is an extremely small minority of clueless people. White privilege, however, is something that all white western people do benefit from, even if you don’t realize it – which is the whole point of white privilege.
      This might help understand why you’re so dismissive of the concept:

      White privilege is a term for societal privileges that benefit people identified as white in Western countries, beyond what is commonly experienced by non-white people under the same social, political, or economic circumstances.
      Whites in Western societies enjoy advantages that non-whites do not experience, as “an invisible package of unearned assets”. White privilege denotes both obvious and less obvious passive advantages that white people may not recognize they have, which distinguishes it from overt bias or prejudice. These include cultural affirmations of one’s own worth; presumed greater social status; and freedom to move, buy, work, play, and speak freely. The effects can be seen in professional, educational, and personal contexts. The concept of white privilege also implies the right to assume the universality of one’s own experiences, marking others as different or exceptional while perceiving oneself as normal.

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      • To call it White Privilege implies that African-Americans who begpacked to these countries would be treated differently than White Americans who do.

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  6. I thought this was travel site?
    No thanks!

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    • Hi JS. You’re right, it is a travel related blog. But it’s MY blog, so I get to choose the topics I write about. Sorry it didn’t pique your interest, but hopefully next time! Thanks for stopping by.

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  7. First time I ran into this was in the South Pacific 9 years ago. Ferries are used to get from the main islands to smaller, more remote islands – and resorts on those islands. The cross section of people on the ferries is pretty diverse, and since it is used by local residents to get around (the closest grocery store to you home may be three islands away), it is as cheap as a city bus in many Western nations.
    Outside the ticket counter were a dozen or so begpackers, most with American accents. As I had time to kill, waiting for the next ferry, I struck up a conversation with some of them. They were begging for enough money for 28 day tourist passes, which at the time was about $50FJD or about $20USD. I inquired as to how they planned to survive for an extended period of time without enough money for a cheap ferry ticket, and was told they had money, but just didn’t want to spend it because it needs to last for a couple of months. They proceeded to tell me that they sleep on the beach, and beg for food from the locals (actual poor people).
    I began to scrutinize the begpackers a bit more and began to notice clothing brands and backpacking gear that was too rich for my budget. $4000 DSLR cameras (they were really expensive in 2008). Things that screamed rich, smug millennial privilege.
    I smiled, wished them luck and walked away. That is when the catcalls started. The biggest douche bag stood up and demanded money from me, because I could afford it. I stopped, turned around and said, “yes, I can afford to be generous, just not to you”.

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    • That’s sad. I’m definitely with you, I wouldn’t give them anything more than maybe an explanation of why they’re completely out of touch with their surroundings. Sadly, I believe we’ll see more and more of this as airfare becomes cheaper to certain destinations and underdeveloped countries’ currencies become more and more devalued.

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  8. I guess by the implication of this post, only “white” Westerners do this, or westerners do this and of course all westerners are privileged whites. This post sounds like the pablum that gets vomited down the throats of gullible students majoring in crap like multicultural studies, comparative anthropology, and the like.

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    • A bit disturbing how dismissive you are of multicultural studies and comparative anthropology and yet bother reading a travel blog. I’m sure it’s not just white westerners who do this, but I’m willing to bet the vast majority is, based on anecdotal evidence. Also, I’m a bit concerned that you’re conflating the term ‘white privilege’ with ‘privileged whites’, which are in no way related; the concept of intersectionality recognizes that people can be privileged in some ways and definitely not privileged in others.

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  9. Ben,

    Now you sound like an uninformed racist idiot.

    This was pulled from the first Google search:

    a person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country.

    A white western person moving to another country for work typically has no option to ever live their PERMANENTLY (regardless if they would like to).

    They go there to work, they work, and they are shown the door.

    Get outside your own racist echo chamber and live abroad for a number of years as I have (15 years), and maybe you will become a little more enlightened…and informed.

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    • Actually, Alan, I am myself an immigrant, who is in turn son of immigrants whose parents were immigrants. White westerners have plenty options to work in a foreign country and whether you stay permanently or not is up to the immigration laws of the country and your personal and professional qualifications. Just like you don’t call Syrian refugees expats, if a person is in a foreign country for work, they’re either immigrants (if permanently relocating) or migrants (if only temporary). If you’re using the word expat to only refer to white westerners but refuse to acknowledge that Latin-Americans picking vegetables, Indian IT workers and Chinese Engineers are expats too, you’re perpetuating the idea that white western cultures are worthier than others.

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      • Ben, when you are in a hole, stop digging.

        You “definition” of immigrant was wrong. At least have the good graces to admit it,

        And you assume too much about me.

        Indian IT workers and Chinese engineers can be expats too. So can Jordanian professors and Egyptian administrators. I’ve worked with all of them and more apart from the Chinese engineer.

        And, FYI, Syrian REFUGEES and not expats, They are REFUGEES.

        Enough of the lazy doublespeak and shifting sands.

        My university sent me an email about illegals in America and referred to them as “undocumented Americans”.

        Not everyone’s brains are soft enough to fall for this nonsense.

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        • Actually, Alan, here’s my definition of immigrant, which fully matches what you pasted from the dictionary search:

          People moving to other countries for work is LITERALLY what an immigrant is. If it’s just for a few years, then they are migrants instead…

          And then:

          if a person is in a foreign country for work, they’re either immigrants (if permanently relocating) or migrants (if only temporary)

          We do agree on something though: not everyone’s brains (or hearts) are soft enough. I’m sad to see you’re learning nothing from your university as to why they’re undocumented immigrants and not illegals, but I suppose there are some battles I just can’t win. Thanks for stopping by, and please refrain from using insults again.

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  10. I would disagree with “immigrant” being utilized interchangeably with “expat”. In terms of colloquial connotation, expatriate is used to refer to a person who lives/works outside their country of citizenship. Immigrant is used to imply more permanent intended residence or settlement.

    I grew up in a State Department family. Our family members were most certainly NOT considered or called “immigrants” while on State Department postings.

    I also have family members who are military members who have taken postings abroad with family members going on post with them. They are not considered or called “immigrants” either.

    Jim just returned from a contract assignment with a multinational corporation and in my time as a consultant I’ve often straddled assignments that have covered more than one continent. The term immigrant has never been used in any type of visa either of us has held.

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    • Hi Jennifer. You’re correct. All the cases you mentioned are exceptions, though. Most State Department employees on postings travel under either a diplomatic passport or a specific visa category, which in general bars them from becoming immigrants. Also, most of them work at embassies or missions so they’re legally still working in the US. Same applies to military personnel, they generally live and work on base, which is technically US soil. Neither of them are considered immigrants.
      As for consultants traveling on assignment, it’s a grey area. If you’re just traveling but still employed in the US (aka receiving a US salary and paying US taxes) then you’re not actually working abroad.
      All the cases you mentioned usually fall within non-immigrant visa categories, so you’re correct in saying they’re not immigrants. My point was not that the terms are interchangeable in meaning, but that you can’t use immigrant to mean non-white people and expat to mean white people.

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    • Funny how for 2-3 centuries only white people get these “expat” postings or military assignments. I wonder if its because of an imperialistic and colonialist invasions that has persisted though the same time period.

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  11. you keep saying “white privilege” in your post. why are you making a point of these idiot’s race in their behavior? it seems rather racist to me. westerners doing begpacking come in all colors.

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    • Hi Ari. It’s certainly a generalization on my part, but I don’t think I’m off. Minorities in general do a much, much better job at censoring their stupidity thanks to a long history of never being able to get away with that kind of behavior.

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  12. Do you feel the same about people from the mainland who move to Hawai’i and beg for money on Kohio?
    Some of my friends who live there complain of people arriving with the intention of using state services and begging.

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    • I’m not sure if it’s the exact same thing, but it makes me chuckle when I hear people scream at immigrants ‘go back to !’, considering that we just took over Hawai’i…

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  1. 15 of the best travel blogs to check out this summer - Points with a Crew - […] An increase in “begpacking“ […]

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