travel_moochersBy: Lindsay Hogg

Are You a Mooch?

I would like to take a moment to steal Margyle’s In the News column and share with you, what ‘really grinds my gears’. All backpackers try to save money where they can, cut costs, etc. This is because we want our budget to take us to as many far and exciting places as possible. I worked very hard to save money for my around the world trip. I saved, so I could experience everything I wanted too and be able to have fun while doing it, to not worry about money every minute. I need a new sweater, I buy it. I want to go on a tour, I go. I want to have some beers, I drink them.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t travel the world if you can’t afford to do everything you want to. I have met backpackers with very little, to no money and I find it quite brave to be honest. But to wait for another bus that comes in 1.5 hours because it is one soles cheaper is kind of ridiculous. Yes, cut costs everywhere you can, but that’s $0.35 USD.

Getting to the point, what REALLY pisses me off is when travellers complain about having no money and try to make you feel bad for them. Sure, I do feel bad, but it’s not my responsibility to buy you a meal, or a beer just because I DO have money. I won’t lie, I have spotted a few travellers a beer or some food, and I bet many others reading this have too. How often do you come across someone who is ass-broke and has not eaten in 2 days? You think, aw… I’m a traveller too, I get it, I’ll buy you a sandwich. But I’ve seen this all too often now and it’s starting to get to me. People constantly asking if they can bum a cigarette… seriously, if you can’t afford to smoke, maybe you should quit.

In Beijing, there was a group of about 8 to ten of us who had bonded quite quickly. We spent the daytime visiting touristy areas around town and the nights down ‘bar street’ a short walk from our hostel. One of the guys who we referred to as ‘Frenchie’ (he was from France, if you didn’t catch that), never had any money. We were always spotting him a beer or a smoke, because we all wanted to have a good time, everyone to be included and have fun. But the guy was a total mooch, the next day he would get a full on breakfast from the hostel and freshly squeezed juice. Meanwhile, the night before he was playing the ‘poor me fiddle’, getting all us suckers to fund his drunken fun so he could afford the highest of breakfast for himself. He had money and he could afford to budget a night out.

He was a nice guy, and that’s why the group could be easily suckered. He could have had toast for breakfast and paid for his own night out. I guess we encourage moochers like this when we allow ourselves to give into them. When we are all leaving for the bar or dinner and someone is just sitting at the hostel alone, ‘I can’t afford too, I will just stay here tonight’. It’s hard not to say ‘Ah, man… come on, I’ll buy you a beer’.

I feel like an asshole now, because I have come across this so much that I have little heart for those broke travellers. The conversation now plays out like this:
Moocher: “I can’t come out guys, I have no money”
Me: “Sucks buddy, see you tomorrow then”

Does this make me a bad person? I don’t think so. I saved up enough money so that I could be comfortable, go on adventures, tours, fund my own nights out and buy my own cigarettes. I could have worked 1/2 the amount of time I did to save up, and travelled around playing my ‘I can’t afford to fiddle’. But I didn’t… why? Because I’m not a mooch.

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