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Too young?

Travel Forums General Talk Too young?

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1. Posted by muse7 (First Time Poster 1 posts) 12y

Hello, I am a seventeen year old girl from the U.S. This March I'd like to travel somewhere- Anywhere! for about a week. Is 17 too young to travel alone? I personally feel prepared and ready for some solo travel overseas, but I am having trouble convincing the mominator (even though I'm paying! hmph). I know some airlines have weird restrictions on youth, and it might be difficult to book some hostels, but in general, is travel fairly easy and uncomplicated for young solo travellers? I need some backup for when I beg my mom, but I'm having trouble finding anything. Student travel is easy to find, but usually those only seem to be directed at 18 and over.
Thanks, love the site

2. Posted by Peter (Admin 5791 posts) 12y

17 doesn't sound too young to me. I travelled with Sam to America when I was 15 and he was 17 I think. Then I travelled to Australia when I was 17. One benefit was having someone I knew (or knew of) on the other end on both of these trips. This way, the parents had no problem with it and it takes away any stress related to accommodation, airport pickups, etc.. If you have anyone you can stay with, I reckon that might be the way to go for a first trip - you will still feel like you are taking on the world, don't worry about that! I don't know much about booking accommodation as a 17 year old, having never tried. Do you have any friends who want to travel with you, or is this going to be completely solo?

3. Posted by (Full Member 111 posts) 12y

hey muse,
from my point of view you are not too young. u cant be young enough to start real education...just returning and going back to school is bad and gets harder each time u come back from a trip.
it depends a bit on the country u want to some countries i would recommend to be 18 as a lot of things are easier.
With 17 i travelled throughout europe by train and i never had problems.
The only thing was in france where its a must to be at least 18 to sleep in youth hostels when travelling alone. so i met people there which had to keep an eye on me .. (they had to sign this in the hostel)..
have a nice trip, moritz

btw. 1 week is really too short for an oversea trip !!

4. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 12y

I tend to think that if you think you are too young too travel solo, then you probably are. It also depends a bit on your background. Some people are fine to travel solo as young as 8 or 9, whilst I have met several people around my age (mid 20's) or older, who still wouldn't be able to manage it. you say that you think you are ready, so you almost certainly are.

If you are under 18 some things will be harder, although generally once you hit 16 you won't have any problems. Some airlines etc won't let you travel (without parental consent anyway), some hostels/hotels won't let you stay, some customs posts/int'l borders etc won't let you cross.

In most cases, regardless of how young you actually are, you can get past these problems and people will break their rules for you if you providing you have the right manner, have your head screwed on and sound as though you know exactly what your doing (even if you actually have no idea whatsoever).

The hard part can be persuading parents etc that it's a good idea, as they almost always are too protective, especially if they've done very little traveling, especially when they were younger. Work out where you want to go and why so that it sounds reasoned and well thought out when you try and persuade your parents. And don't try something too ambitious or somewhere too "risky" the first time alone. Do at least one trip to a relatively safe (politically, accessibility, language, and fairly well touristed) before you get overly creative.

I travelled alone regularly in my local-ish area (maybe within 2 hour train time) from aged about 7 or 8, was travelling right across the UK at about 10, and was regularly in Europe (inc Eastern) at 13. However, I know this is not in anyway normal and that the majority of people at that age would probably not cope very well (or at all) or even have any inclination to travel solo, even just back and fore to school!

There were a few tricky moments, and sometimes I had to do some fast talking, but I was never prevented from going anywhere or doing anything (within reason), and i would'nt change any of it for anything else.

HTH and good luck trying to convince your mom.

5. Posted by bluewaav (Inactive 627 posts) 12y

Hey muse,
Seventeen is not too young to travel at all. I travelled to Germany when I was 18 with a friend who was 17, and in fact if it weren't for her I would never have figured out how to read the train itinerary which was in German, or what gate to catch our flight, etc. She had her head screwed on her shoulders more than me! Whether you can travel or not depends on, first of all, whether you want to or not- if you don't, well there's the answer to your question. Second of all, outward age has nothing to do with it. It is about whether you are mature enough to be away from home for a certain amount of time, whether you think you can handle being in a country where not everyone speaks the language you do, your own street smarts, your common sence and common courtesy towards people who are different than you (beware of culture shock)- those are things that matter, not just how many years you have been on this earth. If you want to convince your mom, those are some things that you might want to think about. My seventeen-year-old friend had no trouble getting anywhere, onto planes or across borders, etc. We weren't always a pair, though. She sometimes travelled with other people. If you travel in most countries in Europe you shouldn't have a problem, just skip the hostels that have age limits. No one asks you how old you are to buy train tickets as far as I know, and they don't even ID you to go to clubs/bars (or discos as they call it). In fact, a German girl once told me that if you are 12 you can sit down in a pub in Germany, ask of a shot of tequila and they would give it to you! Here's a tip: if you are a student, get an ISIC card (International Student ID)- it gives you discounts on stuff related to travel. Oh, and I have to say that 1 week is WAY to short for an overseas trip- make it at least a month!

6. Posted by iloveflyin (Full Member 159 posts) 12y

Hi muse7,

You can travel at any age, really. However, in the US. You have to be at least 18 to rent a motel room. Last year, while my family was in Hawaii, my 17 year-old son took the car and drove to Florida with 2 others minors. His car broke down on the highway. The police came and called us. He told us that, my son had to spend the night in the Child Protective Service office, until one of our friends came the next day to get them out. The reason was that at 17 year-old he could not rent a room.
However, I don't think that rule applies to overseas hotels. Their rule is "Show Me the Money!"
Just be careful though. Not everyone in this world is honest and helpful. If you can use your credit card, and besure to buy credit card protection, if it is not included with your policy. Try to contact your folks at home regularly, and let them know where you're at. If you go out of the country, make copies of your passport, just incase you loose the original.
If you have more ???? Post again! Good luck!

7. Posted by IMonaghan (Respected Member 431 posts) 12y

Coming from the USA. I would say 17 is a reasonable age. Growing up as a military brat I started travelling on my own/with my folks very young.. I would reccomend skipping "3rd world" and "developing" nations for the most part as a young female travelling alone. Although I would have less hesitations with a travel buddy. Examples in Thailand and Costa Rica I have been approached by peoplethat made me a little nervous... I am a mid 20s male from NYC... Note this has always been in metro areas and after dark... The world during daylight hours for the most part seems like a pretty safe place for me.

I would highly reccomend anywhere in Western Europe for someone your age/gender/travel experience. England, Ireland, Italy, France, and Germany are all in my opinion excellent trips for the first timer... Japan too, but that's just me.

I don't know how this strokes you, but drag the "mominator" along with you. If you guys get along ok you'll have a great time together and you can still take day trips apart from eachother that could give you the freedom to explore a bit on your own..... Just a thought.

8. Posted by IMonaghan (Respected Member 431 posts) 12y

... Sorry, thought I was done... I have to agree though with elmoe.
You'll find I think 1 week to be a very short overseas trip.

9. Posted by ZazuToo (Full Member 27 posts) 12y

As a mom who faced this kind of adventerous child just a year and a half ago when she was 16, I admit that I was terrified. She proposed going to NYC where she wanted to do the college shopping thing with a friend. She also wanted to try on her traveling shoes!

We agreed with rules which included lots of phone calls home, staying with our friends (which cut down on her costs), a taxi from the airport, and a honor system curfew. She did great, we felt somewhat soothed.

Propose something concrete and be willing to compromise. The parental support you get might be really worthwhile.

BTW, my traveler is in Bolivia taking a year off between high school and college and working in a Bolivian prison and traveling, of course.

10. Posted by iloveflyin (Full Member 159 posts) 12y


I guess for some parents, it's hard to let go your teenage out there. My 17 year old boy will graduate from highschool this year. He asked if he could travel by himself to England and perhaps, other part of Europe. He and I took a trip together from Dallas to London last year; and around the world with the rest of the family a couple years back. I guess, by now, he should have enough knowledge of traveling. But, it is hard to let your kid go thousand of miles away, and not knowing what he will encounter. Thinking back, when I was his age, I traveled back and forth from my house in Laos to my boarding school in the Philippines, with an overnight stop in Bangkok, and a 7 hour bus ride from Manila to my school in Baguio City. Today, we have cell phones, e-mail .... so what are we worrying about! Just give them the credit card... haha!