It's when they run out of cash that these young Western backpackers turn to the streets, hoping to raise money so that they can go on traveling the world. Disgusted locals and fellow tourists who have spotted them in the streets of Southeast Asia aptly named them "beg-packers."
These Western backpackers have reportedly been spotted begging, busking or selling knick-knacks in the streets of Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Hong Kong. Young Singaporean Maisarah Abu Samah snapped a photo of a Western couple sitting on the ground and selling postcards with a cardboard sign that said, "Support our trip around the world." Another photo showed a different couple busking but with the same cardboard message.
The Singaporean woman recognized the expensive equipment the buskers owned. She also cited that the Western backpackers might even be breaking rules since Singapore only allows street vendors and performers in a certain area. "We find it extremely strange to ask other people for money to help you travel," she told The Observers at France 24. She added that taking to the streets "isn't considered respectable" and that people only do so in order to survive. "But not in order to do something seen as a luxury!"
Such behavior pinpoints the ever existent white privilege as these Western backpackers think that turning to the streets can easily be spun into a great travel story, according to The Telegraph. These 'gap yah' travelers go backpacking in some of the world's poorest countries with the ability to waste away in just a day what could have been a month's worth of salary among the locals. Instead of finding some transient work in order to raise some cash, they take the easier route of turning to the streets.
Some Western backpackers have also taken advantage of crowdfunding sources. The system has made it easier for them to ask family members and friends to make donations for their next travel. This way, they get to travel cheap and hopefully, also for free.