Websites such as GoFundMe were first created with the best of intentions and place.
GoFundMe Pages have been used to offer legal fees to someone who is being oppressed by the system and require fair representation, offering financial support to those who require expensive surgeries to save their lives, and paying for funeral costs in the face of a terribly tragic loss of life.
That said, as with many things that start out with good intentions, GoFundMe pages have been abused and used to fund incredibly selfish and entitled activities, as well.
Most commonly, the fundraising efforts which anger online users most are the ones that are related to an individual’s unwillingness to work to make money, and thus they request support from others to fund their luxury or privileged activities such as travel, so that they don’t have to save up their own money by putting aside a bit of a paycheck now and again.
More and more, we are seeing go fund me pages go viral, because online users are tired of strangers begging for money to fund their dream travel adventures.
These types of travelers are most often coming from Australia, the UK, and the states, and they are referred to as ‘begpackers’.
They are flocking to cheaper and warmer countries, most often in Asia, in hoards.
And while there, they are giving all Western tourists a very shameful and embarrassing name for once again exploiting countries that are of a lower socioeconomic status from their country of origin, from whence they came.
As a travel enthusiast, and a privileged white Westerner myself, I am ashamed to witness this behavior, and see it blowing up with such ferocity.
So what is a ‘begpacker’?
By definition, a ‘begpacker’ is a type of tourist who arrives to a country or several countries, for many months at a time, with all of their belongings in tow, however they are lacking in the financial means to fund their travel.
This term was created through the combination of those with backpacking tendencies, as well as begging on the streets.
That is where this form of tourism (if you can call it that) takes an infuriating turn.
Most often white Westerners, the practice of begpacking is when these individuals travel from their own wealthier countries of home origin, land most often in an East Asian country, and then proceeded to beg on the street asking for money, unapologetically stating that their requests for money are so that they can continue traveling the world and fund their dreams.
But is it truly tourism if individuals are arriving to a country and then requesting money from the locals themselves, rather than putting money back into that economy?
Quite frankly, that’s not tourism, that’s exploiting a culture and a country and their people for selfish and entitled gain.
As if the history of Westerners exploiting the East wasn’t disturbing enough, this new generation of entitled travelers known as begpackers are just continuing to facilitate the embarrassing and dishonorable conduct and reputation of Western travelers by taking advantage of the natives in the country they’re visiting.
It’s one thing to be in a tight squeeze, and a whole other thing to have literally no financial plan.
I find myself getting increasingly angry and frustrated when I hear of begpackers attempting to validate their conduct.
Particularly, when they say it’s a free world, they’re not forcing anyone to give them money, and they’re just trying to ‘live their best life’.
With all due respect, I too am doing what I can to live my best life.
When my now-husband and I started dating 4 years ago, we jointly agreed that a dream of ours was to one day travel the world for a year while working online, so that we could see close to a dozen countries before settling down to start a family.
We didn’t go on a honeymoon after our wedding, because we’re intentionally preparing for this anticipated, once-in-a-lifetime trip.
My dream of seeing the world is very similar to the dreams expressed by these begpackers.
The difference, however, is that when I realized this dream was a goal of mine, I intentionally started making a plan for how I was going to manage facilitating such an expensive and unconventional year of travel.
Since then, I have been actively building my online social media marketing company with the strategy and logistics in place to allow for me to operate it from anywhere in the world. I have been doing the same with my creative writing, ensuring I do not create work for myself that requires me to stay firmly in one place.
My husband began to study for his certified professional accounting designation earlier than planned, so that he could acquire that designation and still have several years afterwards to then open his own accounting business, and be able to run it online, as well.
By the time we’re actually able to facilitate this year of travel, it will have been 6 years worth of strategic planning and financial preparation to ensure that we could both work as we travel, while also having a safety fund of at least $10,000 in our savings account just in case something unexpected happens.
These begpackers and I share a similar dream. The difference is, I have been very intentional about setting up my circumstances so that I am financially secure and responsible enough to actually afford the travel I would be embarking on.
I have absolutely no expectation that my host countries should be funding my travel dreams in any way, shape or form.
Sometimes the easiest thing is also the most dishonorable thing.
Look, I can understand and appreciate that when travelling abroad, one can get into a bit of a financial squeeze for a lot of different valid reasons.
Sometimes you might lose your wallet, or a freelance client who is meant to pay you just hasn’t paid their invoice, and has basically disappeared, leaving you with a significant lack of funds for that month.
I can understand these situations, and have sympathy for them to an extent, because they were accidents that may not have been anticipated when traveling abroad, which can happen a lot.
I spent a semester studying in South Korea while in university, with my parents sending me a few hundred dollars a month to cover my most basic needs. In order to facilitate any travel, I needed to come up with extra money on my own. That is exactly why I started private tutoring in English, and with four months of private tutoring funds, I was able to facilitate a 5-day trip to Tokyo with a friend of mine.
I am so grateful to have been able to spend even five days in Japan, and have that single trip to travel during my semester-long exchange in South Korea.
That said, I worked to earn the money to allow me to travel. I did not avoid working at all and instead as strangers for money, nor did I set up a GoFundMe page.
I not once had an expectation that the citizens of Daegu, South Korea were responsible for funding my personal aspirations and goals to travel through giving me their hard-earned money.
In no way have I ever felt entitled to such handouts as a privileged Western citizen visiting another country, which has been gracious enough to host me and allow me to experience their culture for myself.
It is an honour to be welcomed into a foreign country and have the opportunity to experience their culture firsthand, and see beautiful sights around the globe that we otherwise would not see in our own home country.
It is a shameful act to then try and exploit the people within that country for one’s own selfish and personal gain solely from a place of entitlement.
These types of travelers really grind my gears.
We all have dreams and aspirations, but even to have those and be able to facilitate them is an absolute luxury.
There are so many people in this world who are working their a**es off to simply meet their most basic human needs and be able to survive one day to the next.
So many of these same people are showing up to work every day, putting in their hours, and doing everything necessary to facilitate their own financial security.
The homeless on our streets who generally suffer from traumatic brain injury or mental health issues which have been obstacles for them to live a financially secure life and hold down work to support themselves, beg on our streets because they have no other choice. This is a question of life or death for them.
It’s inexcusable to use begging as a luxury, and an easy way out from having to show up to work every day, set aside a bit of money each month to fund ones travel aspirations, and wait to travel until one has the financial means to responsibly do so.
It truly sickens me to see this sort of conduct. I am honestly so ashamed and embarrassed as a Western white woman to see fellow Westerners exploiting and disrespecting Eastern citizens in such a shameful way.
I have no idea where the sense of entitlement came from, I have no idea how these individuals can validate their embarrassing and pathetic behavior, but this sh*t needs to stop.
It’s quite simply an absolute and total disgrace.
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