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Minimum Age

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  • Added on: February 3rd, 2009
My son graduates from high school this June and we said we would give him a plane ticket to do some independent traveling before college. The only condition was that he had to have someone to go with. He wanted to go to N.Z. but his friend couldn't do the tickets so I think they are narrowing it down to Europe (Amsterdam, France, Switzerland, ??).
My son will be 18 before they go and we were going to have them wait until his friend turned 18 in mid-summer. Now they want our younger son (16) to go also. Both our boys have traveled since they were young and we always travel independently. They are very comfortable staying in hostels and getting around on public transportation by themselves in foreign countries.
Do you think they will have any problems staying any place without someone over 21? I don't think the 18 year olds will, but what about my 16 year old. Can his brother be his gaurdian? Are there other obstacles they might face at these ages? What do you think the minimum age is to travel independently?
I told them I thought he was to young (though he looks and acts like an 18 year old) but that I would think about it and look into it.
Any thoughts?


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Joined: November 19th, 2004

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  • Added on: February 14th, 2009
Age should not be a problem if the 16 year old is mature enough not to go to a bar, get drunk, and then get rolled. Heck, even 21 year olds do that.

If the boys have a good sensible head on their shoulders, it should be no problem. One must be careful that the 16 year old has some form of supervision.

Course, I was 17 when my grandmother took me to Italy, and she turned out to be sick 90% of the time. This left me wandering around Rome without a guidebook, tourist map in hand. I did just fine in Rome and Florence. In fact, I stepped OFF the the train to get some water, and the train pulled away. Instead of going crazy with worry, I just bought another ticket to Florence. The conductor found me and told me to report to the office where my grandmother was waiting for me. Thank goodness she didn't go back!

Bottom line: Its not the age that counts, its the maturity of the young man that is at issue. Heck, I knew some Ex-cops who got themselves in trouble in Mexico, and they were well over that age.

One warning: Though bars would serve 16 year olds, would the young man learn temperance? This is why when going to such places, a more mature 18 year old should go with them. One tends to drink hog wild when the privilege is not offered in ones own country.

If they go to hostels and make friends there, they'll have a great time.

I do recommend they take some language courses so they have a clue on surviving in the environment of a different native language. Just one would do. One of them could learn French for the French part, another Italian for the Italian part. There's no need to learn Dutch. Most Dutch can speak english fairly well. That way they can feel good, even if they only know how to ask where is the bathroom and where is ____?

It';s good to know the numbers, please, thank you, and can I have, where is, etc. A simple course on tape or in a class can give them that, and they can prepare a little for the culture.

Kudos to you for even thinking of permitting such a thing.

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Thorn Tree Refugee
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Joined: March 5th, 2009

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  • Added on: March 18th, 2009
Well, we are going to let him go. His brother and friend really want him to go. I just hope they can all keep each other out of trouble.


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Thorn Tree Refugee
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Joined: March 17th, 2010

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  • Added on: March 18th, 2010
Maybe look into a program that offers opportunities for both high school students and college students. I went through my Saint Leo when I was 17. I was able to go to the Washington DC. Great experience. Hope this helps!


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Knows What a Schengen Visa Is
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Joined: March 29th, 2009
Location: London, UK

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  • Added on: March 19th, 2010
Heavens! I think your nuts!!! 16????
But I guess only you know your kids and how mature they are.
Hope you dont have to fly over and bail them out of trouble.
Life is such an adventure, I can't wait to live it some more.


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Guidebook Dependent
Posts: 24
Joined: May 21st, 2010
Location: Tampa, FL, USA

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  • Added on: July 8th, 2010
Hey ''from away'' how they completed their journey, lets say something about that.
David S. H.Tampa C.Beach FL, USA

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Joined: March 23rd, 2010

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  • Added on: September 3rd, 2010
I don't think it will be a problem. I was 16 the first time I traveled independently with a friend (to Croatia and Turkey), and we managed it pretty well, although we didn't really realize the importance of food. We sort of cut it really short on the food budget and spent it on other things that were more fun :P Otherwise we had no problems finding our ways and such things.

About the partying, I've found that the people who party the hardest is actually 20-25 year olds.

To prepare in advance, make sure they study the country and the places they're going to, that they have an idea of what things cost, and that they know some basics of how to stay safe from scams and crimes on the road.

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