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Posted by
330 posts

"How will it impact you? Soon, many countries may start imposing conditions to enter such as minimum amount of money in travelers cheques or you must carry a credit card with a healthy credit limit. Or provide proof of hotel reservations and return tickets. I don't know if travellers cheques still exist and it was a hassle buying them before a trip. It will affect genuine travelers everywhere."<<

I agree that this might very well be the outcome, which will hurt those of us who want to be footloose and fancy free abroad WITHOUT any begging.

Posted by
10662 posts

Soon, many countries may start imposing conditions to enter such as
minimum amount of money in travelers cheques or you must carry a
credit card with a healthy credit limit. Or provide proof of hotel
reservations and return tickets.

I like that idea!

Posted by
4852 posts

Wow. Pretty disgusting behavior. The ones who are offering "free" hugs for a donation are particularly interesting. I guess its pretty novel in some of those SEA cultures to hug openly with strangers? They're blindfolded, and I wonder to whose benefit that is - the hugger or huggee?

Posted by
688 posts

I am so personally disgusted by this behavior. I had no idea anyone would have the gall to beg from the poorest people out there for their entitled lifestyle.....SICKENING. Just downright disgusting. Have they no shame? Do they not understand how selfish and horrible their behavior is??? I am ashamed for them if that is even possible.

Has anyone here ever seen this type of thing in person? I would call them out so fast.

I had seen people asking for money on crowd funding sites for Disney trips etc.....My answer is unless it is for a dying child, GET A JOB.

Posted by
7109 posts

Well said photobearsam. Agree with you completely. Entitled and selfish is right. But entitled people have no shame.

Posted by
16579 posts

When I took my first trip to Europe in 1972, there were a few Americans begging on the street. I saw no one with the gall to ask for money to fund an around-the-world trip, though.

I agree that it is especially disgusting to beg like that in poorer countries.

Posted by
4777 posts

Has anyone here ever seen this type of thing in person?

I have, my first recollection is about 16 years ago in Rome, an obviously American, middle aged couple, backpacks and all, sitting on the street, near the American Church if I recall, begging for cash.

Probably have seen teenagers and 20 somethings (Americans and Canadians) multiple times asking for cash, close to begging, but more spotting you out as a fellow countryman, giving a bit of a hard luck story or just flat out asking for money.

Most often (again, easily recognized as North Americans) individuals busking or performing, looking for some cash.

So not all necessarily the same as the article, but close.

Posted by
94 posts

Just such an article was posted on the Nomadic Matt's bulletin board. Over 300 people posted replies - 99.99% were totally against these begpackers.. It was the largest number of entries for a posting Matt submitted. What should be done with/to them - there was not a definable answer. Who would want to hug a begpacker- when was the last time they bathed? I do like the idea off showing enough funding in a bank account before an individual is allowed into Europe. But authorities do need to crack down on them or they will become numerous like the pickpocketers, with the authorities turning a blind eye.

Posted by
2575 posts

I think we need some little business size cards that you drop into the hat. They can read 'get a job', 'call Mom and Dad for money', or 'go home and live on Mom's couch'.
The hugs? Pulease. So disrespectful in countries where open signs of affection just are't done.
But it also shows how society and parenting have let them get away with their sense of entitlement. I'd be raging all over my kids if they did this even if they are over 30 and taller than me.

Posted by
885 posts

As someone who's been unemployed and have had to cut back on everything including travel- Sorry entitled people but if you don't have money you can't travel. Period. If you want to travel work for a charity, teach a language course or stay home and work until you can save enough money.

Sheez.

Posted by
7109 posts

In all my years of living and traveling in europe i’ve never seen anyone other than people who looked very poor begging for money. I believe Paul absolutely, i’ve just never seen it.

When i was living in Paris at 18 for a year i was very poor. Had to budget for the mêtro, entrance fees, and a baguette and cheese for dinner... did not have a penny for anything else, but it never, ever occurred to me to beg for money.

Posted by
2294 posts
  1. Apparently the US isn't the only country with people whose entitlement is beyond imagination.

  2. Travel is not a basic necessity.

  3. These countries should deport begpackers.

Posted by
1009 posts

These countries should deport begpackers.

Well yes - but at whose expense?

Posted by
4777 posts

In all my years of living and traveling in europe i’ve never seen anyone other than people who looked very poor begging for money. I believe Paul absolutely, i’ve just never seen it

Well, to be honest, the incident in Rome with the couple, I can call an outlier, I in no way think that is common.

Like I said, I have been approached by young people, who recognize me as American, and "hit me up" not real common, and not "general begging" since they are not approaching every passer-by, but maybe a half dozen times in 20 trips.

And then the Buskers/Performers, I see more often, of course I see many, but I am talking only about those that turn out to be from the US (or Canada). Many may not consider what they do "begging" and there are many legitimate street performers, but the fact that they are from the US probably means they are doing it illegally, which to me is "begging, and often not much of a "Performance" either.

Posted by
8293 posts

A contributor to this forum was complaining bitterly about him and his daughters being accosted by bird seed sellers and the like, persistent rose sellers, etc., in a particular European city (can’t remember which). The whole thing caused him much indignation and thoughts about why the police couldn’t put an end to this. I wonder now how he would feel if the pest turned out to be an American kid, financing a visit to Europe.

Posted by
2294 posts

Norma, I would be furious if the birdseed sellers etc. were American young people. There are currently more jobs than there are workers in the U.S.-young Americans should get jobs and save enough money before leaving on their trip. It's a totally different matter if the salesmen are locals trying to make money to feed their families.

Posted by
10662 posts

Personally none of it upsets me. Too many more important things in life.

More than 3 billion people live on less than $2.50 a day. Amongst those 3 billion are, what? Maybe 10, 20, 100 "Begpackers"?

An individual I know who comes from a place that is going through great economic and political strife right now refers to such matters as first world poblems. Which says a lot about differing value systems and what we have the "luxury" to be upset about as compared to a lot of places and people. So, if the kids are entitled American beggers, then I suppose those complaining about them are entitled American whiners....

Now, knowing ahead of time when rooms at the Budapest Four Seasons are going on sale. That does interest me.

Posted by
7109 posts

James, you are absolutely right, it is a 1st world problem. Just like most all the
problems/complaints/conundrums on this forum.

Posted by
10662 posts

I'm still laughing at the people acousted by flower vendors..... No worse than the young woman that wouldnt let me into his lane on the highway about 30 minutes ago. She really, really should have been arrested and deported!! Naaaaaa. Like most similar instances in life, I moved on and found a good soul further ahead who helped. And like most similar instances in life, the fine young woman that cut me off ended up about a dozen cars behind me. Interesting how life works.

But more seriously about the flower vendors. Some need the money, some are being explotied by family or clan. How do you know? You dont need to know as the grace comes from the act of giving, and has little to do with the truth of the need of the one receiving. So buy a freaking flower! You are all entitled privlidged Americans, you can afford it. If you want to learn a beautiful concept one might read Maimonides' eight-level hierarchy of tzedakah. I could be mistaken, but I belive there is something similar in the Islamic faith.

Posted by
288 posts

Ooph. Yeah, I can't quite bring myself to sympathize or empathize with what those folks are doing, at all. On the one hand, I want to appreciate someone's desire to explore and travel and plop themselves in to the middle of a distant foreign land, even without a plan and just winging it. On the other, it seems fairly disrespectful to locals and the host country and all too reckless.

I should point out I say this as someone who did something similar, yet entirely different - I backpacked through South America in my early 20s and winged it completely - I managed to get myself a plane ticket to La Paz, Bolivia and had no return ticket and no real plan of what to do once there. I set out to go on a spontaneous adventure, had very little money to my name, and just a Lonely Planet guidebook to help me get my bearings once on the ground (and a credit card I would be able to fall back on for a return plane ticket if and when I'd had enough) - and I never had to beg for money once.

There were plenty of ways I could make money, while contributing and being productive.

  • There was a bar/restaurant in La Paz that catered to backpackers, and that would hire us for short stints cleaning dishes and bussing tables. When I'd find myself in La Paz, I'd work for a week or two and save up enough money for a bus ticket and a bit of money to get me to whatever town or village sounded interesting.

  • I'd work odd jobs once in local towns. When arriving in a small town on the shores of Lake Titicaca right when a festival was beginning, for instance, I met a family and helped them get their food booth set up in the town square and worked at it all weekend. In exchange, they let me stay with them for several nights and invited me as a guest in to their home.

  • I'd find local English language newspapers, and offer to write articles and op ed pieces for them (they didn't pay much, but they were always hungry for content and material and would pay cash). I'd offer to write (or correct and edit) English menus, signage, or other materials.

  • When arriving at small, remote hostels I'd offer to do work (cleaning bathrooms, doing laundry, painting, whatever else they might need) in exchange for lower rates or even the occasional free night.

During that year I did all manner of things - helping work in fields, carrying other backpackers' mail with me back to a city, helping hostels and restaurants get customers (speaking English and Spanish, I had useful skills!). Over the course of an entire year, I never had to beg, nor accept anything that wasn't in exchange for work. Mind you, I rarely even said anything along the lines of "I'll do this work in exchange for this". Rather, simply being friendly and outgoing is all it took. I'd have the money to pay for the hostel, and simply offer to help out once there. I'd have the money to pay for my meal at a restaurant, and simply offer to fix English-language errors or re-write signs and menus. I'd plan to pay for the room to rent, but offer to help work around the house or property once there. People would then give me discounts or free meals/nights as thanks. What little money I would have would thus last a great deal longer.

Admittedly, this was 20 years ago and in a developing country. In places with work restrictions or more expensive destinations, I'd have had a much more difficult time. The fact is, though, this "backpacker economy" still exists in many places (including many of those mentioned in that article) - it is still very possible to earn small bits of money in exchange for actual work, without simply planting yourself on a street corner and begging. There is no reason one can't travel to places, even with very little money, without contributing something worthwhile rather than simply taking. It saddens me to think a Western backpacker might get a handout a genuinely needy person could otherwise benefit from.

Posted by
1378 posts

it is a 1st world problem

It is not. Just read the headline of the original posted article saying "People In Asia Are Sick Of Western ‘Begpackers’ Asking Locals To Fund Their Travels For Them".

Posted by
288 posts

I don't think it's fair to just dismiss this as a "first world problem" and suggest finding fault with it is unwarranted.

Mind you, I would agree there are some things I can't quite get worked up over, or even have come to accept and understand. I grew up in the developing (or "third", or "lower middle income") world, but as a westerner from a developed and wealthy country. While personal pride and the desire to not feel taken advantage of initially made me defensive and wary when it came to getting ripped off by taxi drivers, shortchanged by merchants, or bothered by people on the street asking me for money, at a certain point I came to the conclusion letting myself be that fool, parted of his money, wasn't necessarily a bad thing. If a taxi driver in Africa or South America was going to charge me more money than he would charge a local, was it that bad in the grand scheme of things? I'm sure the money would have gone further in his hands than mine. Recycling a term I've used a few times here already, I'd already won the birthplace and birth circumstance lottery, and lived in a safe, climate-controlled home with access to potable water, healthcare, and a quality education. I should feel thankful for the opportunity to leave some extra money behind for people whose circumstances were not as fortunate as my own, through no fault of their own. Sure, maybe that child begging in the street pegged me as a naive foreigner and was giving me some sob story to get some money out of me. But did that change the fact that I was likely a great deal more fortunate regardless, and they could put any money I gave them to good use? Nope. (And hey, if we wanna further complicate the sort of stuff going through my young mind as I made my way around foreign cities and lived my youth in foreign countries, it wasn't lost on me how even what I felt was justifiably letting myself get ripped off on occasion had perhaps not-so-subtle hints of some Kipling-esque colonial white man's burden nonsense, being more self-serving than anything else. Was I willing to give up my change or pay extra because I was wanting to help, or was I just being condescending or wanting to prop myself up as some noble savior for sake of my own ego? But anyways, I digress!).

I can make it a point to not go out of my way to be ripped off, and avoid situations where I feel it could happen, but I can't fault someone for picking me or any other foreigner out of a crowd and trying to make a little extra money off me. I can't fault someone asking for change including me among all the people they'll approach that day. After all, as I travel around and put effort and energy in to finding good deals, saving money where I can, and working the system as best I can, am I not doing the same but in reverse? Why can't someone looking for baksheesh or some extra money here and there see me - some anonymous tourist that's part of the big, anonymous tourism machine - the same way I see an ATM that doesn't charge fees? Is someone trying to sell a rose to a tourist any different than a luxury hotel knowing they can charge a fee for wifi while the budget hotel offers it for free? Aren't we all just looking to put some money in our win column that day? So we can arm ourselves with knowledge and information and do what suits us best, but not take it personally or get offended when others don't play by our own rules.

Having said all that, we're in different territory when relatively fortunate people are panhandling in less fortunate, developing countries. If folks are going to leave spare change or donate money to someone in need, it shouldn't be for a privileged traveler to take an ill-thought, poorly planned vacation. It strikes me as disrespectful and manipulative. Don't intercept the generosity that could better serve others' needs for sake of your own wants. There are plenty of ways for budget backpackers to travel cheaply, yet responsibly.

Posted by
30889 posts

I had no idea this was happening, although it certainly explains some of the panhandlers I've seen in Europe. Those people have some nerve to expect the locals to fund their travels.

Posted by
1451 posts

For a time, almost daily, there were some people - different ages - panhandling for money at certain "stop signals" - the ones where there is a long line of cars waiting at a light and the light change takes forever.

There used to be a guy - maybe in his mid to late 20's. Saw him standing on the corner - usually they have the same spots within a certain radius. Anyway, long story short, I found out that the guy was funding his trips for traveling. He was pretending to be homeless and was not. He would take off to some beach for two or three months.

I don't know the backstory of why he felt the need to lie to people donating to his fun in the sun. Apparently he was lazy and did not want to work. He was not disabled; did not look like he lacked for food or even hygiene. He had a cell phone.

It is peeving to me that "we" work hard, save for this or that from our own money. Some even work OT or get a part-time job to supplement their hobbies, travel, pocket cash, etc.

I saw one guy "finish for the day" - picked up his raggedy backpack, crossed the strip mall median and get into his car parked under some trees. I had finished some shopping, was in my car, ready to go and was astonished to see this.

The others are ones that "travel for a living" and have a donate button on their channel.

I save for my trips, and some of these people travel to places I never heard of and live it up.

A bit off topic - The 'go fund me' requests for some things have gotten out of hand. Sure, there will be people they will con to donating. As soon as you read or hear of some bad news, at the end of the article, "the family has set up a go fund me to (fill in the blanks)"

Posted by
12084 posts

"...entitled American beggars...entitled American whiners." Such eloquence !

Posted by
230 posts

On the other hand, in 1980 my husband and I spent the first few months of our married life in Paris. Not because we were "rich, entitled" Americans on an extended vacation, but because my husband was a study abroad student and he sold everything he owned (car, bicycle, stereo) to raise the money for me to come with him. I was just 17 years old at the time! My parents were not well off at all, and could contribute nothing to the trip or our expenses.

Anyway, we took care of ourselves, and subsisted on minimal food (bread, cheese, yogurt) and accommodations (broom closet size room with shared toilet down the hall.) As the months went by and it got colder, I was scouting out thrift stores for warm clothing. One day, while I was hungry and shivering in the raw weather, a beggar with a nice thick warm coat approached me very aggressively and demand a handout. I went off on him - in English, I didn't care! I told him he had a better coat than I did, and he looked more well fed than I was, so LEAVE ME ALONE.

I'd never have asked anyone for money or assistance, and I wasn't in a poor country like in this example, but I was still on the bottom of the totem pole in Paris where even the beggars seemed better off (for the moment, at least) than I was!

Posted by
2575 posts

I just finished watching the Kindness Diaries (2. I missed series 1 somehow). His driving from Alaska to Argentina with nothing didn't seem to bug me. He seemed a genuine caring person and he did generous acts for others. One episode, however, he is at a gas station in South America and some Anglos were begging for money for their gas...they even had a piggy bank they would stick out for people to fill. THAT ticked me off. But I had to think whether Leon's quest for gas was really that much different that the folks with the piggy bank.

Posted by
1027 posts

These kinda sound like the ‘gutter punks’ I’ve run across in the USA. Since today is Labor Day, they’ll be leaving Chicago as tourist season quickly winds down here. They’re usually 18-22 year old types that panhandle so they can travel around and get a place to stay for the night. Sometimes they have clipboards and solicit for some group I’ve never heard of before.

This type of stuff has been going on forever. In the 60's, people hitch-hiked around. I don't mind a musician standing on the side with an open instrument case and playing music or an artist selling drawings, etc.. But, it's wrong to beg just because an individual doesn't want to take any responsibilities for oneself. Hey - sleeping in a park and scraping together some change for a truck taco sure is easier than getting up at 6 am and spending a full day at work.
I tolerate beggars who are desperate individuals in one way or another. I don't tolerate those who are just looking for an easy ride through life. Street people create problems for businesses and communities in general.
Requiring individuals to have a certain amount of cash or resources to enter a country is a good theory, but difficult to carry-out. Just look at our Southern border! Can we apply the same standard to those entering the USA?

I remembered that the tiny country of Bhutan has a system in place that requires all foreigners to have 1) visa at a charge of $250 per person per each day in country (fees may have increased) and 2) pre-booked accommodations through one of Bhutan's licensed travel businesses. No visa - no prebooked accommodations - no entry.
Bhutan saw the problems in Nepal with "street" travelers and acted to ban the practice.

Posted by
1027 posts

Actually, Bhutan is a special case. They used to not allow any tourism and barely had telephones as recently as the 1980s. Basically a completely isolated country.

Posted by
1285 posts

In the early seasons of The Amazing Race, when they had a non-elimination leg, they used to take away the last-place team's money and luggage. So they would resort to begging for money from locals before the start of the next leg. It was pretty creepy, and, happily, they ended that after a few seasons and switched to giving the last-place team an extra task to complete on the next leg.

I could be wrong - but, I think at one time there was a book sold that explained to people how to "begpack" around Europe. Advice like sleeping in a park, etc..

Posted by
49 posts

These begpackers reek of entitlement especially since travel still is a luxury for most of us, including the people in the countries they visit. Different folks, different strokes, but I can't imagine not spending within my means when I'm in a foreign place.

Posted by
2808 posts

My take on the issue or "begpacking": (1) it is a problem and egregious self-entitled behavior; but (2) a small problem in the large scheme of things. Very few people do it. Begging is often controlled by street gangs and what not in many cities with weaker law systems than in the West.

A larger problem, and one that might bring more strict foreign visitor requirements, are youngsters that work illegally during long-ish gap/round-the-world trips. Apparently, many years ago it was common for hostels catering to international young clientele to operate in this gray area of exchanging short-term stay for short-term informal labor quid-pro-quo. Nobody cared, in Europe, in Southeast Asia or wherever. The same goes for people working as waiting staff in bars, restaurants, etc. during a long trip.

As the travel industry have become more professionalized and information much more easy to access, these 'word-of-mouth' schemes are far less viable as a way to spend 1/2 years just 'winging it 'round the world', unless one has parents that can fund these trips, these days. So I think 'begpacking' arises as a sort of ill-conceived substitute for a bygone time where one-way tickets and a financial reserve at a one-month minimum wage in a developed country were enough to jump-start an 'adventure'.

Although not many Americans or Canadians have been refused entry in Europe in this manner, one must remember that lodging reservations (or invitation letters from hosts), minimum financial resources, onward/return ticket and health insurance covering minimum thresholds are formal requirements to enter Schengen area. As I work often with exchange students and the like, it is not that uncommon to hear them telling of stories of colleagues refused entry because they had bought just a single ticket, or because they had no reservations, letters, insurance confirmation at all. It often comes at a shock to other students, who don't think this is something that could happen to them (i.e., likely middle-class travelers from across the Atlantic).

Anyhow, I think a small part of the youths living with enough comfort/luck that their basic needs are all meet somehow long for this sort of "experience" where they can venture out there, knowing in full they always have family/friends to fall back on (so not really desperate in the survival sense), while testing their recently-gained independence. For whatever it is worth, the World today offers far less of such opportunities, income disparities are smaller than they used to be in the past between the rich West and developing countries, earning and saving money at early adulthood is much tricker, career/education concerns are far on top of people's minds etc.

Posted by
2808 posts

I could be wrong - but, I think at one time there was a book sold that explained to people how to "begpack" around Europe. Advice like sleeping in a park, etc..

Yes, there were some guides/early 2000s sites that went above the line on giving budget-savvy trips to Europe (aimed at North American/Australian audiences).

But, then, even RS himself brags, on his Youtube talks, about his first one or two European trips: getting away with petty shoplifting, using transportation without payment, sneaking into social functions for free food...

Posted by
42 posts

Reminds me of my first trip to India in the 80's, many Western junkies [track marks etc.] presenting themselves as tourists who had been robbed and their embassy was closed so they couldn't get help. Still see the same scam these days, both abroad and here in Canada, although now they will often say their card won't work at the ATM. One of the last ones was dressed in a nurse's uniform and claimed that her car had broken down, she was needed at the hospital in the operating room, etc. Eventually the police told the public via the newspaper about her. These people are shameless; just say no and walk on. Makes it rough for the very few who genuinely need help.

Posted by
440 posts

If you cant afford to travel, then don't. This is despicable behaviour.

Posted by
162 posts

I actually don't have a problem with the people who are selling photos or busking musicians; at least they are offering you SOMETHING for your money. As for the blindfolded moochers offering "free hugs"; I would be tempted to test out those blindfolds and steal any money they may have collected and put it in a church's poorbox or something like that.

Posted by
330 posts

Today in a US tourist hot spot I saw a beggar with a sign, "NEED MONEY FOR WEED." I kid you not.