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Travelling as a minor

Travelling as a minor

Old Nov 26, 12, 12:06 am
  #1  
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Travelling as a minor

So I am under 18, and wondering what my options are for travelling by my self, next summer or so. This past summer I did a group trip to India, and I fly very often, have a passport and everything, so I can do the flying. I have a debit card and could buy a ticket. But what about hotels, and transportation? Are you allowed to rent a hotel room if you are under 18? What about train or bus tickets. I am mostly thinking about Europe, so any specific advice there?
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Old Nov 26, 12, 12:14 am
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I'm under 18 and have no trouble buying train or bus or air tickets. Not too sure about hotels, but I might imagine you might have a bit of trouble there, with liability and whatnot.
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Old Nov 26, 12, 12:50 am
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First, I would highly suggest a notarized letter from your parents/guardians officially allowing you to leave your home country and visit a specific list of countries. This is essential.

A lot of students backpack through Europe before they turn 18, so you should have little trouble staying at hostels and buying train and plane tickets. Larger hotels might be an issue due to insurance requirements, so check beforehand.

Also, while carding may not be as prevalent in Europe as it is in the US and Canada, disobeying local laws is not a good idea. Plenty of countries have drinking ages below 18, which means that you could likely go to clubs and such if that is your thing.

Unless things have changed, in France anyone under the age of 18 can enter all public museums for free. This will save you a lot of money in Paris.
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Old Nov 26, 12, 1:59 am
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Originally Posted by flame7926 View Post
I fly very often, have a passport and everything, so I can do the flying.
While you may be able to do the flying yourself, you still cannot hold a CPL until you are 18 years old. Therefore, you will need to be accompanied by a CFI if you want to do the flying. And depending on where you want to go, getting a validation of an FAA license may be a time consuming process.

I think those issues are far more critical than simple stuff like renting hotel rooms, etc... Your CFI should be able to do that for you anyway.
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Old Nov 26, 12, 2:09 am
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I travelled by myself, without permission slips from my parents or anyone else, to 20+ countries before I turned 18 (primarily while 16 and 17). Airlines don't care. Train operators and bus lines definitely don't care (with very few exceptions, nobody will even ask you for ID for these).

Hotels are the only place that you may run into problems; officially, many places have a rule excluding guests under 18 (or, in the US, 21). In reality, in my experience, this is never enforced if you look responsible and have a shiny credit card. Unless you give them reason to, most hotel clerks are unlikely to even bother looking at your ID long enough to notice your birth date. With lower-end properties or hostels, you are even less likely to run into any issues.

Overzealous immigration officials could be an annoyance, but assuming you can clearly articulate what you're doing and where you're staying in their country and show that you have funds to support yourself, it is extremely unlikely that you'd find yourself deported back home. In my experience, the only countries that ever even commented on my travelling alone as a minor were the US, Canada, and the UK.
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Old Nov 26, 12, 2:10 am
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Welcome to Flyertalk, flame7926.

It depends heavily on your country of origin and your destination. Can I infer from your spelling of 'travelling' that you are based outside the US, for example?

From my point of view, I've been travelling alone (as in, not UM) internationally since the age of 13. From 16 onwards, my holidays were with friends abroad. Neither of these were a problem from a British citizen travelling within (Western and Eastern) Europe, although I never had the money for an actual hotel, and would end up in hostels, camping, or sleeping on trains instead, so that never came up. No documentation was needed for me to travel at that age (and the concept of notarised documents doesn't really apply where I live).

I suspect major hotels are more likely to be a problem, as they need a credit card for security, and may have insurance issues if you are under 18. If you don't fancy the hostel route, then smaller guesthouses may be a better approach.
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Old Nov 26, 12, 2:12 am
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Originally Posted by B747-437B View Post
While you may be able to do the flying yourself, you still cannot hold a CPL until you are 18 years old. Therefore, you will need to be accompanied by a CFI if you want to do the flying. And depending on where you want to go, getting a validation of an FAA license may be a time consuming process.

I think those issues are far more critical than simple stuff like renting hotel rooms, etc... Your CFI should be able to do that for you anyway.
Just reading between the lines, I don't think that's the type of flying he's referring to...
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Old Nov 26, 12, 2:16 am
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Originally Posted by belfordrocks View Post
Just reading between the lines, I don't think that's the type of flying he's referring to...
I was considering making a similar post about taking the hard hat and canary as carry-on luggage, but held back...

Oops.

And I kept clear of suggesting that C major would be more cheerful, too...
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Old Nov 26, 12, 6:21 pm
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I am from the US, I guess I just spell travelling weird.

First off, what is a notarized letter necessary for? If I am walking on the street here, no one will stop me and ask for a note. Is it a legal requirement to have one? Is someone likely to stop you on the street and ask for identification, or is it more customs and immigration?

I read other places that the problem with a hotel is the contract you sign, when you are under the age of majority contracts aren't binding. Do they really have a reason to care though as long as you have a card?
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Old Nov 26, 12, 7:07 pm
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Originally Posted by flame7926 View Post
I am from the US, I guess I just spell travelling weird.

First off, what is a notarized letter necessary for? If I am walking on the street here, no one will stop me and ask for a note. Is it a legal requirement to have one? Is someone likely to stop you on the street and ask for identification, or is it more customs and immigration?
It's for immigration, to make sure that you are not a runaway.

Originally Posted by flame7926 View Post
I read other places that the problem with a hotel is the contract you sign, when you are under the age of majority contracts aren't binding. Do they really have a reason to care though as long as you have a card?
It depends on the hotel. Major US hotel chains are generally quite strict about the age limit. I don't know about foreign countries, but my guess is that in most cities you can probably find a hotel somewhere that will let you stay.
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Old Nov 26, 12, 8:04 pm
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One country that does require a notarized permission letter form parents is Mexico.

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_p...s/cis_970.html

Minors: Mexican law requires that any non-Mexican citizen under the age of 18 departing Mexico must carry notarized written permission from any parent or guardian not traveling with the child to or from Mexico. This permission must include the name of the parent, the name of the child, the name of anyone traveling with the child, and the notarized signature(s) of the absent parent(s). The State Department recommends that the permission should include travel dates, destinations, airlines and a brief summary of the circumstances surrounding the travel. The child must be carrying the original letter not a facsimile or scanned copy as well as proof of the parent/child relationship (usually a birth certificate or court document) and an original custody decree, if applicable. Travelers should contact the Mexican Embassy or the nearest Mexican consulate for current information.
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Old Nov 26, 12, 8:08 pm
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Originally Posted by cbn42 View Post
It's for immigration, to make sure that you are not a runaway.
I didn't get asked this this summer going to India and hadn't heard of needing one until now. Again, is it a legal issue or just something they would like you to have?

Originally Posted by beachmouse View Post
One country that does require a notarized permission letter form parents is Mexico.

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_p...s/cis_970.html
I do remember Mexico being a ton of trouble when we were taking my cousin back when her parents left earlier.
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Old Nov 26, 12, 11:26 pm
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Originally Posted by flame7926 View Post
I didn't get asked this this summer going to India and hadn't heard of needing one until now. Again, is it a legal issue or just something they would like you to have?
It depends on the country. Some countries may require you to have it, others may leave it to the discretion of the immigration officers. If you were traveling with some sort of group trip, then they may not bother asking because it's highly unlikely that a group leader would be abducting anyone. But if you arrive by yourself, it will probably raise more suspicion. Remember that you are never entitled entry to any country, and immigration officers have the right to deny admittance to anyone they find suspicious.
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Old Nov 27, 12, 9:55 am
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Originally Posted by flame7926 View Post
I am from the US, I guess I just spell travelling weird.

First off, what is a notarized letter necessary for? If I am walking on the street here, no one will stop me and ask for a note. Is it a legal requirement to have one? Is someone likely to stop you on the street and ask for identification, or is it more customs and immigration?
The notarized letter is a backup. Some may not ask for it but for the cheap cost of asking a notary to stamp/sign a letter it's a handy tool to have just incase it's requested. It's odd enough for a minor to be traveling alone that it might raise eyebrows and the questions of "are you running away? Are you running away from legal issues?" etc. Also, the assumption is that if your parents know that you're traveling and approved of it you're unlikely to be the kind to cause as many problems. A bit illogical maybe, but often true. It's easier to just have the letter if it's requested. Your parents can probably have that done at your bank/credit union for $10-20.

I read other places that the problem with a hotel is the contract you sign, when you are under the age of majority contracts aren't binding. Do they really have a reason to care though as long as you have a card
Yes. Basically if the contract isn't binding and you run up a ton of charges and don't pay for them, they might not be able to collect from you. Plus if you're using a debit card a hotel might put a hold on on your account for an amount much higher than your planned stay to cover for incidentals and/or damages. That hold might not be cleared right away so you might plan on $100 for a hotel for a couple nights and really have $300 held unavailable in your account for a few days after you've checked out.


The easiest way to do this is to get the letter (it's a cheap and easy way to prevent possible issues so why not have it?) and to plan your lodging ahead of time. You can make sure that they'll allow an unaccompanied minor to stay. Another useful tool is to get a credit card. You're under 18 so the account can't be in your name but your parents can get a card and make you an authorized signer with a card of your own. You put the lodging on the credit card and then there is no inconvenient hold on a debit card. Depending on how long you'd be gone you can pay your parents ahead of time and they can pay the bill when it comes or you can have it pulled out of your checking account automatically. Do remember that the credit card has to be paid off in full when the bill comes. :P
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Old Nov 27, 12, 9:56 am
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I would definitely carry the notarized letter. Whether you need it or not depends on the immigration officer(s) you encounter along the way, but I'd want to have it just in case.

I would also make sure you're in possession of a credit card. Or two different ones - say, a Visa and a Mastercard. Obviously it'll have to be a parent's account, but you may run into hotels or other travels that bristle at a debit card. Ideally a chip & sig card from a major U.S. bank. (I'm pretty sure you won't have chip & PIN like European banks do.) The chip isn't an absolute necessity though...just means some automated kiosks might not be able to read your card, so there may be a few train tickets and such where you need cash.

I backpacked Europe for a month when I was 20 and don't recall ever showing ID for age-related purposes anywhere. If you're 17 and look like a passable college freshman, I doubt you'll run into many issues. We stayed a hostels or the most bare-bones pensiones we could find. This was early 90's, so we were using a lot of cash, although even then I did carry 1 Visa and 1 MC with me, tied to accounts back in the U.S.

I also recall carrying a green student ID card - a general International Student ID, issued at our university travel agency in the student union. I think I paid about 10 pounds for it and it was good for museum discounts almost everywhere we went. Everybody seemed to have it...any box office that had a student discount knew what it looked like. Maybe U18's can just show a passport and get the same discount, but it might be worth looking into.

Agree with others who suggest obeying the local drinking laws.
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