25 APR 2017: My daughter is hooked on travelling, ever since her first Contiki Tour to Ireland a few years ago. She travels on her own, and sometimes with friends. Truth is most of her pals can’t keep up with her travel frequency or how she budgets for a trip. I joke with her that she gets to the UK more often than I get to Costco.  

For Lisa, travelling is a priority, so she works hard and forfeits things like a car and cable. She considers herself lucky to travel and knows many people wouldn’t make the choices that she does to have her passport stamped with such regularity.

But it doesn’t have to be like that.

This week I read about a trend in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore. It is where western kids backpack through Asia and beg for cash. It’s dubbed ‘beg-packing’.

You know how homeless and down-and-out people make begging look unpleasant? Humbling? Well these new and improved panhandlers make it look cool, with their great hair, their orthodontic approved smiles and designer footwear.

In exchange for a donation some couples are giving out postcards of their travels or handmade trinkets. Some are providing entertainment and their expensive violins; guitars and amplifier equipment do not go unnoticed.

One couple was photographed with a high end DSLR camera beside their sign saying ‘Support our trip around the world.’ One fellow was photographed with a take-out meal.

Unlike the local beggars they are positioning themselves in middle class neighbourhoods near bus terminals and not in the gritty city cores. Apparently they are keen to pose for selfies with people who add to their coffer.

The real kicker is that some provide fundraising goals that they would like to achieve. One couple needed $5,000 for their adventure.

After all what is a young person to do when daddy takes them off the payroll? Work seems barbaric when you’re entitled, and there are so many exotic places to explore.

These young people have upgraded the beseeching thing, because when begging was all about primitive needs like eating to stay alive it was hard to think about a person’s lot in life; hard to imagine what their circumstances were.

But when you give your money to the pampered, you know that your after tax donation might bring a smile by way of cocktail at a Tiki bar in Bali.

And isn’t the world a much better place for the indulged when one has the luxury to travel to countries with high rates of poverty and then ask the locals to foot the bill?

 

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Pam Stellini

Pam Stellini delivers her original spin on alternate Tuesdays in her column Without Reservations. (Formerly titled, Notes from A Broad)

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