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Old 12-01-2007, 07:38 AM   #1
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Default 17 too young to go solo?

Hey guys i was just wondering if i could get some advise. :D

Im a 16yro female and i still have one more year of school to go and then im free to do some exploring before uni. I cant wait to start travelling, backpacking and meeting new people.
I will be 17 after school but i was wondering is this a bit too young to go backpacking solo? Technically it would be the year i turn 18 but my birthday isnt till Nov.
Ive been travelling in Europe twice with family so im not completely new to it all but im still quite inexperienced.
I have more than a year to decide what i want to do - it would be great to have some insight on whether you guys think 17 is too young to go travelling solo around europe (for a few months..too long?) and whether i will be too lonely going solo?
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Old 12-01-2007, 07:48 AM   #2
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Firstly, welcome to TPUNK!!!
As for your question its hard to say, I guess it depends a lot on where you're going and what kind of person is traveling. I suppose TECHNICALLY the first time I traveled solo was when I was 14/15 but it doesn't count to me because I was visiting family in Canada which is where I am from.
When I was 18 I traveled to Belgium with a friend and yeah, we made a few mistakes but looking back it was great. I generally think traveling young is a good thing as you learn. Depending where you are, I say why not?
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Old 12-01-2007, 07:51 AM   #3
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Welcome to the boards

This question comes up pretty frequently. 17 is a bit young but it depends on your personality/maturity. If you are planning a trip 1 year in advance and are eager to go my guess is you'll be just fine. It sounds like you will be going in the "summer" (summer to us) months. If so, you stand no chance of getting lonely as the hostels will be packed and you will meet people everywhere.

My litmus test is to ask, do you feel awkward going and eating/drinking/seeing a movie by yourself? If you would never do that, you may want to reconsider (or postpone) solo travel.

One alternative maybe to choose a summer language camp. You will be guaranteed of meeting other 16-19 year olds and you can learn a language

Where have you been and where would you head?

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Old 12-01-2007, 07:54 AM   #4
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I think it's one of those "look to yourself" type questions. Are you ok if things don't go according to plan all the time? Are you comfortable improvising or taking risks - but at the same time weighing "once in a lifetime" chances with "better not to die for this"? I'll be honest, traveling solo is hard for me. Stateside, every time I have a problem or a spare moment, I like to talk to my mom. I know this might surprise some of the people here. But I am very very grounded to my US life, and am looking forward to moving home to small-town PA when I settle. Buuut...this is one reason I'm glad I was "forced" into traveling solo for the first time. I was 21, but it totally went against my nature. Now I've made it a part of my personality. If I had waited much later, I don't think I ever would have been able to do it. Actually, if I hadn't gone alone (first solo was Turkey) when that particular option presented itself, none of my subsequent trips (Israel, Jordan, UAE, Singapore, Malaysia) would have happened.
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Old 12-01-2007, 08:10 AM   #5
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thanks to your responses!
yeh i actually enjoy doing things by myself, cant say i feel awkward so i suppose thats good

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Where have you been and where would you head?
Well ive been to the Netherlands twice, i have my dads whole side of the family there so it wouldnt be a problem staying with them for a while. Also travelled round Germany with family.
Im not too worried about where i'd go but for my first solo - anywhere in europe, probably not too far east though.

I'll definately look into the language camp suggestion, thanks

I consider myself fairly mature and laidback so im thinking the solo idea may be ok :D
and suggestions on destinations?
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Old 12-01-2007, 08:42 AM   #6
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That's great that you have family there! In that case, I would probably look into flying to Amsterdam and going on from there. The worst time to travel solo is the first day. If you are with family though that would ease that feeling considerably

Where you would go depends on what you like to do/see/explore. Scandinavia during the summer is pretty much heaven on earth and perhaps some what appropriately, the prices are sky high

Spain and Italy would be a great places to tour as there is lots of variety. Austria is pretty nice and if you don't want to go "too far east", you could still hop over to Bratislava, Slovakia from Vienna to get a bit of an Eastern
European flavor. France could easily take a month to explore.

Once you start to nail down an itinerary, we can give you some suggestions. You'll want to book your hostels in advance since that will be the peak season.

There some great options and given the state of discount airlines, you can pretty much get anywhere fairly cheaply if you plan in advance

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Old 12-01-2007, 08:31 PM   #7
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I was going to be lazy, because I think I've answered this question like 5000X and just post a couple of my other responses here for ya but I can't seem to find them (go figure, :lol)

Anyways, I did the exact same thing you hope to do (2 months), birthday's Dec 26. It's actually pretty good travelling at 17 in europe because you get discounts for a lot of tourist sites on the entrance fees and in many cases, you actually get in free! (major bonus when travelling!) I'm pretty independent though (but from the sounds of it you are too). My vote is 100% to go.

It's really not that unsafe at all, you just have to be smart about it. I had a purse which straped across my chest & a zipper and would always walk with my hand holding my zipper, or with it in front of me so that I could see it at all times, and I never encountered any sort of theft (although I have heard stories). And I rarely was outside alone at night unless I felt really safe in my environment (and honestly, who wants to be anyways, you're not excactly going to a nightclub on your own). I was never alone unless I wanted to be. I dont think I would have met nearly as many people as I did if I hadn't gone solo. I would have been dependent on the fact that I was with other people and wouldn't have been forced to talk to all the amazing people I met and hung out with. You meet people on trains, in hostels, if you hear anyone speaking english (outside of the uk) it's a dead given that they're tourists....I dunno you just meet people everywhere. And people are so much more open to help other backpackers/travellers. It's a beautiful thing.

That was one of the best summers of my life. You will regret it if you don't go.

*Oh, and as a side note it's also a total ego-boost because women NEVER travel solo. Of the TWO other women I met who were travelling on their own during my entire 2 month stay I was by far the youngest. (That's not to say you wont meet anyone else around your age that's female, just that they wont be going it alone)
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Old 12-01-2007, 10:46 PM   #8
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If you're completely up for suggestion you may enjoy central europe. places like krakow, prague and vienna will still have the advantages for a newbie like most places in western europe, such as good tourist infrastructure, lots of other travellers to meet, lots of english spoken, etc etc, but will be cheaper and there will be a little less tourists. plus it will be easier to hit eastern europe if you feel like gaining some travel cred. If you're up to it Ukraine is awesome and people were like "omg wow you're 18, female solo and you're here?" Unfortunately Aussies still need visa for places like Ukraine, Moldova where as Americans and Canadians do not, but I think they can easily be obtained when on the road (but be sure to double check).
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Old 12-02-2007, 02:31 AM   #9
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I think it s good idea, but like the others say, it really depends on you. Im 17 at the moment and am planning on going to London and working, then backpacking over Europe in a few months....I have to admit though that im a little nervous going off by myself. Youre finishing school at 17, does that mean your a year younger than everyone in your class? I dont really have any advice, but from someone who is planning on going, I would say go for it
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Old 12-02-2007, 03:05 AM   #10
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I travel by myself most of the time. It was super stressful for me the first time I travelled alone because I just worried everything was going to go wrong. But now I've learned that nothing's going to go wrong that I can't fix. And I'm not exactly the worlds biggest loner. I don't like to go to movies by myself, and I'm too scared to go out drinking by myself! But if you're staying in a European hostel in the summer and can't find people to hang out with in the evening, you must have a giant sign on your head that says "I have a highly contagious disease!" Although if you did, you'd probably find people too drunk and/ or friendly to notice.

And yes, not a lot of girls go travelling on their own!
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Old 12-02-2007, 06:06 AM   #11
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Welcome to Travelpunk!

I have said this before. When I was 17 I would not have been mature enough to go on a solo backpacking trip. I probably wasn't mature enough until I was 22 or 23. I grew-up late for a number of different reasons.

If you do decide to go - use a lot of common sense. Read some of the safety overseas testimony on the board and my number one suggestion is to stay away from alcohol and drugs. They can get you in trouble. Here is a test: what do you tend to do when you go to a house party on a Friday night? Do you always get drunk? If you do, you may want to postpone. It doesnt have to alcohol. It ca be how you save and spend money. It can be about your judgement of peeople and who you hang out with.

My suggestion is to go to a language school. I hear they are a lot of fun and I wish I had done something like that. But even if you choose a language school, you will still need common sense.
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Old 12-02-2007, 06:27 AM   #12
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My suggestion is to go to a language school. I hear they are a lot of fun and I wish I had done something like that. But even if you choose a language school, you will still need common sense.
Definitely. If you wouldn't do something in Australia don't do it in Europe

Also, for kids under 18, a lot of language schools request permission from your parents to allow you to leave the premisis. Just something to keep in mind. I am using Enforex in Marbella, Spain to learn Spanish (used them before and was pretty happy). It costs about 170-200Euros for accomodation per week (under thirty Euros per day...usually includes breakfast and dinner) depending on location and 125Euros for the course (20hrs per week). So you are looking at 300-325 Euros per week all told.

The best part of that is that you will meet people your own age and be with them for a long period of time (2-3 weeks). I still have friends from when I did that two years ago and am looking forward to doing the same come January.

Good luck!

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Old 12-03-2007, 03:01 AM   #13
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Thanks guys, i looked into the language camps but i dont think a month or less is enough time, and i dont really want to be doing somthing that might feel like school after a while haha, i'll keep it in mind though.
Ive also been looking into volunteer programs overseas, i think that would be a really rewarding experience. Its a bit tricky because most aid and volunteering organsiations have an 18+ age requirement... i also want a program thats at least 2-3 months long.
im committed to finding somthing!
thanks for everyones help:D
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Old 12-06-2007, 02:33 PM   #14
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I would definitely say 17 is too young to go solo... definitley go with someone.

Unless you've had a pretty rough upbringing and have gotten yourself in and out of sticky situations before, I would advise going with someone. I'm 25, and I nearly got robbed (you can read my story in the health and safety section) when I went alone... and I thought I know something about the world.

Backpacking alone anywhere is much more dangerous than with someone else... especially if you're a girl. There are a lot of fucked up ppl out there.

Not saying anything will happen... but if something does, you want to be confident you can handle it.. right?
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Old 12-06-2007, 03:40 PM   #15
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Haha way to scare her Jason. I think she is probably NOT heading out with Turks in shady areas of town to sketchy ass bars :D

She said she is not heading "too far east" so in Western Europe she should be safe

(Although I have heard people with a similar bit of Turkish delight in Munich and Paris...just be smart)

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Old 12-06-2007, 08:37 PM   #16
 
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I'm a girl and I went backpacking solo when I was 17. Only last year haha That seems so long ago but it was just 10 months ago! I went to Ireland, Netherlands, and Germany my first time solo. During the world cup too which was INSAAAAANE! Then I spent last christmas going all over. I went to Germany, Berlin for XMAS, Czech, Prague for NYE, Hungary, Austria, Slovakia. It was the most incredible thing I have ever done. I made some really poor decisions, but I just think that goes with being in a weird country at a young age. I'm a pretty mature person but you will NOT MEET ANYONE YOUR AGE!! I did over the summer. I met a girl 2 months older than me who was with her boyfriend who was 22. I met groups of guys who were 18-20. And a couple of groups of girls 18-20 but no one younger than me and everyone i talked to said i was the youngest solo backpacker they had ever met. I can answer any questions you have as It seems I'm the only one who has gone at such a young age but I'm sure there are more...
Okay gotta go. I have a final in calc tomorrow.
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Old 12-06-2007, 09:25 PM   #17
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Haha way to scare her Jason. I think she is probably NOT heading out with Turks in shady areas of town to sketchy ass bars :D
hahaha... well I tend to try to paint a worst case scenario. I'm sure not everyone will end up sprinting away from thugs across the main street and ducking in seedy bars for the whole night.

But I did meet many petite asian girls who backpacked alone through Turkey and they were fine... but then again, I knew one of them who confessed that she carried an assortment of knives just in case

Anyway, if your heart is set on going, chances are it'll be fine... but like laura said, just be very smart and very careful and stick with groups.

And don't give anyone the benefit of the doubt
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Vincent: "So what you gonna do?"
Jules: "Well, basically, I'm just gonna walk the earth."
Vincent: "What you mean 'walk the earth'?"
Jules: "You know, like Kane in 'Kung Fu'...go places...meet people...get in adventures."

Trips (only counting recreational travel):
FIRST TRIP (2005): FIRST EUROTRIP EVER! UK, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Holland
SECOND TRIP (2007): First Solo Trip! Greece, Turkey, Syria, Spain
2008: China (Beijing, Shanghai, Yangshuo) ...right before the Olympics!
2009: Japan & HK, Southern Spain
[size=1]2010: All over Lebanon, Ibiza (Spain), Oktoberfest (Germany), Thailand.
2011: India (Goa), Jordan, Jerusalem, San Sebastian (Spain), Amsterdam (again), London, Driving from Vancouver to L.A. (stopping in Portland, Seattle, San Fran and all the little stops), Montpellier (France), Geneva and Lausanne (Switzerland)

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Old 12-06-2007, 09:35 PM   #18
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I'm a pretty mature person but you will NOT MEET ANYONE YOUR AGE!!
yes I second this! before I left I kept telling my mom it would be fine, as alot of 18 year old fresh graduates go backpacking. This assertion came from the fact that Laura (SA), Tadpole and another member (forgetting their name right now) did it at 17 and 18 years old. Boy was I wrong. Everyone was like 22+. I ended up hanging out with, for example, a 31 year old, a 27 year old, and a 46 year old. I even went out to dinner in Odesa with some Americans who were in their 40s and 50s!
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Old 12-06-2007, 09:43 PM   #19
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It is because most people going are not graduates of high school but of college. I found the Brits and Aussies tended to be younger though.

One of the great things of about backpacking culture is that age doesn't matter. I went around with people younger than me and older than me. I spent a while talking with a 60 year old Aussie and a 16 year old Brazilian girl. Enjoy it

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Old 12-07-2007, 05:32 AM   #20
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yes I second this! before I left I kept telling my mom it would be fine, as alot of 18 year old fresh graduates go backpacking. This assertion came from the fact that Laura (SA), Tadpole and another member (forgetting their name right now) did it at 17 and 18 years old. Boy was I wrong. Everyone was like 22+. I ended up hanging out with, for example, a 31 year old, a 27 year old, and a 46 year old. I even went out to dinner in Odesa with some Americans who were in their 40s and 50s!
It's true, the majority of people backpacking are not 18. And yes, I count 17 as the same thing as you'll be turning 18 in Nov (minus the wicked discounts on admission, I still can't believe I got into the LOUVRE for free). But you'll still meet a few people your age and there are a good deal of people 18-21. I actually loved the fact that as a backpacker age was so boundless. Before I left for my trip I would never have thought that I would go out partying and drinking with people in their late 20's-30's and not feel awkward. In fact I had a kickass time. People are people and backpackers are among the elite. Everyone has so many stories and travel related experiences, you fit right in. Although I do think that I am relatively mature for my age.

And in response to canadian_bacon's post:

Quote:
I would definitely say 17 is too young to go solo... definitley go with someone.

Unless you've had a pretty rough upbringing and have gotten yourself in and out of sticky situations before, I would advise going with someone
I did NOT have an incredibly rough upbringing, thankyouverymuch. I grew up in the middle of the boons (and by boons I do not mean a shabby part of town, I mean the middle of buttfuck nowhere) with my unbelievably wholesome parents. People I have never seen drunk, dont smoke, never done drugs, and all-around goody two shoes. My mother actually walked out of the living room when we first watched the italian job because she couldn't stand to watch all the bad things they were doing (for those who havent seen the movie, the beginning is not particularly gruesome by any account and I'm pretty sure all they'd done at that point was steal some stuff).
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