I received a really interesting email the other day and wanted to get feedback from our community to answer it. Basically it covered the question of when someone is old enough to backpack alone. Here’s the email:
Hi! We are both 16 and want to try backpacking together. What age would you consider old enough for us to go alone without a parent chaperone? Thanks in advance for the advice!
I had to actually stop and think about this one. See, when I was 16, I was dying to get myself abroad. I was already researching study abroad opportunities for university!
Initially my response was that it varies by trip, destination and the maturity of the person involved. I mean, if someone hasn’t lived alone yet, they might not be able to hack it when traveling in a foreign country. (Just think about the amount of people that struggled when we all went away to college.) Perhaps a summer trip to Europe would be fine for the right person.
But after putting the question up on our Facebook page, I saw it in a different light. Yes, it is true that many hostels won’t allow people to check in until they are 18. Yes, there are some legal concerns when it comes to needing a guardian to sign off on certain things. And, there’s that whole factor of “how young do you really look” that could potentially make you a target. Gosh, when I was 18, people at the gas station were asking me if I was even old enough to drive! So I can totally understand that.
Here are a few of the responses on the Facebook thread:
I would say that hiking and camping trips nearby, as well as summer exchanges or group trips would be the way to go until someone is older and can be legally responsible and eligible in all manners.
What do you think? Leave you comment below, or join in the Facebook thread.