Food-begging tourists in Rome have raised eyebrows after asking other travelers to buy them food.
You might have thought Begpacking booted onto the sidewalk in 2017, but it seems to have come back to bite our ass. That’s right: it’s returned, and this time it’s not Southeast Asia (rightly) getting mad at the phenomenon, but Italy (or, as the case may be, a man in Italy and a bunch of his Reddit friends).
Tourist (and Reddit user) u/smeppel, who went to the internet trash can last week, warned fellow travelers in the r/solotravel community about beggars: “I’m in Rome and today a guy came up to me while I was up he was sitting on a bench,” he said.
“He explained that he was from Hungary, where he worked as a painter, had three days of vacation left in Rome, but had no more money. Then he directly asked me to buy him noodles in a nearby shop. I told him I was on a tight budget myself, but offered him my bananas, which he ended up taking.”
“Something similar happened to me on my previous trip, pre-Covid, at a bus station in Vienna I think. Guy comes by, explains that he is visiting from the Balkans with a vague story of how his money ran out, and asks me to buy him some fast food at the kiosk. This guy actually got mad when I offered him something I had on me and called it crappy food. This guy must have been in his 40s, this guy is in his 30s now.”
“Maybe I’m too skeptical, but I don’t really believe that they just run out of money for groceries. At the same time, I can’t really figure out what they do with lying. Are they just really cheap travelers trying to eat for free? Something else?
“Anyone who has experienced this? I would like to know if this is a common phenomenon or just a coincidence that it happened to me twice.”
Reddit user u/smappel
The comments section quickly got hotter than a margherita fresh out of the oven as citizens of the internet jumped over each other to burn up the “scumbag” act of begging as if it were your hungry mouth that needed a bite stickier (and way too hot ) takes ) mozzarella.
Though some assumed it was really just tourists who ran out of money, others said it might actually have been a more organized scam.
For example, one Reddit user wrote: “A fairly common scam in some parts of the world involves this type of begging, where the scammer usually works with a local business. They beg you to buy something (“Look, I’m not asking for any money, just formula for my baby! You can buy it direct!”) and when you leave, you put it back on the shelf of their partner store and in your bag the money. Fairly common in certain parts of Asia, although I haven’t heard much about it in Europe.”
Another said: “Common scam worldwide – ignore anyone approaching you on the street. Send some money to a local charity if you feel guilty.”
This was followed by other remarks such as: “Really common fraud, especially in Italy. They are organized groups trying to scam tourists. They were clearly tutored by someone because they use some actual psychological negotiation strategies to get you to give them more money.”
“I guess they’re just local beggars and the ‘I’m a tourist who was unlucky’ story works for them to get tourists to give them money,” wrote another. “It’s an icebreaker that allows them to get close to random strangers as many backpackers are interested in meeting other backpackers and it makes them seem relatable then they can ask for money/food and settle for the social awkwardness.” support.”
There you have it. Either way (whether scammers or begpackers) it’s not the best behavior. Though true “begpacking” is arguably worse – the kind that went viral between 2015 and 2019, where rich tourists visit poor countries and then beg locals for money to continue their travels (something that sparked much debate and condemnation at the time ), with some arguing it’s the worst thing you can do and others saying it’s fine as long as you’re actually selling a product or skill), neither is great.
TIED TOGETHER: General travel advice to avoid like the plague
As travel has returned to normal this year we are also seeing trends such as ‘real’ begpacking making a resurgence, with bagpackers being scorned in Malaysia last month leading to this The sun every day to report: “A spokesman for Kuala Lumpur City Hall said foreign tourists who solicit funds from the public or sell jewelry without a license to fund their travel expenses are committing a criminal offense as such acts are defined as an immoral activity .”
However, not everyone thinks it is so immoral to work with an author for The Independent She claims she disapproves of taking beggars out of context, writing: “There is an uncomfortable assumption in the various media reports that every white person in Asia has independent means and a rich family at home to fall back on , in case he runs out of money – that’s all Traveler straight out of Gap Yah’s sketch. And while this is undoubtedly the case for many, it certainly is not true for all.”
“Of course, casually begging as a long-term strategy to fund your fun trip around Asia is a different story, and one that I wholeheartedly disapprove of. But you also have to distinguish between begging and street music.”
There you have it. Another controversial travel trend that’s now back with a vengeance, The Spicy Cough is off most people’s minds…