Daily Mail came out with an article a few days ago detailing the “rise of ‘beg-packers‘”. Yes, that’s right: beg-packers. Basically, people (ahem, Westerners) who sit on the side of the road and beg for money while they are traveling through some of the world’s poorest regions. It’s becoming an increasingly insane problem, especially in Southeast Asia where truly needy people are in pure survival mode, not “look at me with my ukulele and Patagonia backpack that I spent wayyyyy too much money on hence me playing with the ukulele and asking you for money.”


People begging on the streets of Bangkok. From DailyMail.com

I am not condemning backpackers. I myself would love to backpack the world someday, preferably Europe. I am simply calling people for their poor financial skills. So here are a few tips to manage your money while going on these excursions.

  1. Do your research! Google exists for a reason. Check how much plane tickets are during the time period you want to go, average cost of room and board (whether it be Airbnb, friends or even a campground), average cost of food, and entertainment.
  2. Once you have done your research, start saving! I take 15% of my paycheck and transfer it to my savings account. Here I further allocate what goes to the emergency fund, what goes to the retirement fund and whatever is left, the vacation fund. Sure 15% sounds like a lot but if you’re a lucky duck who makes $1000 per paycheck, you’re saving $150 every two weeks. That’s $300 per month and $3600 per year. You can do more or less. Up to you.
  3. Hit the bargain bins when you’re shopping for equipment. You don’t necessarily have to go to REI to get the fancy schmancy Patagonia coat or top of the line insulated to-go thermos. Check out TJ Maxx or even your local Goodwill. You’d be amazed at what you find there.
  4. Learn a thing or two from the locals. How about bartering? Don’t really need those extra pair of flip flops, but really need enough food to last a couple days? Try trading if it’s common culture wherever you are at. I’m pretty sure they would appreciate the clean Rainbow flip flops.
  5. Don’t have enough money to go on your own? Try going with a group, whether it be your church or your friends. Everyone pitches in so the burden is not entirely placed on your shoulders.
  6. Probably the most important rule: once you’re there, balance your books! Spent $10 on jewelry? Expense that from your “entertainment fund” to get an accurate total. Gained $5 from winning a mini contest? It’s revenue in your pocket so add it to your total. This will give a clear view on how little or how much you are spending or gaining throughout the trip.

Please remember the needy are needy. They are in pure survival mode. You the begpacker? Well, you should have read this post first. 🙂


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