Parent concerns for a teenager wanting to go backpacking in Asia alone


As a father of a 17 year old son, I am in the position where he is graduating high school this year and wants to travel.

He has no career objectives yet; he's a down to earth sort of young man, perhaps should have been born in the sixties. He also has his black belt in karate; I say that just to show his commitment.

As a family we have traveled probably more than the average family. But now he wants to travel and backpack Asia after graduating high school, and do it alone.

At about age 18, is that something completely unrealistic for him/us to consider allowing him to do? Everything from a safety consideration, to logistics, to just plain being able to navigate about on his own. It could be a fantastic experience; or we may regret forever if something terrible happens.

Would at a minimum it be a must that he travels with a companion; is doing this solo completely nuts?

Cheers, and appreciate thoughts opinions on the subject.

Answer: I believe that your son will be alright traveling alone in Asia, as long he's taking usual precautions and using common sense. There are several young backpackers out there in Asia traveling after graduation. So, I don't think it's unrealistic at all to let him travel alone in foreign territory.

What so great about the backpacker community in Asia, is the 'help-each-other' mentality. He won't be alone even if he's traveling alone :-)

Traveling alone requires some matureness, and you've already said that you have traveled more than the average family. I believe that's an extra plus in the book and it will come in handy for him.

If he has never been to Asia before, there will of course be some adjustments; to the climate, culture and food. But that's part of the 'game' and a great learning experience. Traveling in Southeast Asia and India is in general safe. I've traveled a lot in Asia, North America and Europe. From experience, I believe that I would be more freaked out by solo travel in NY City than in Bangkok.

If he leaves for Asia, you can make an agreement. For reassurance. Maybe he can call once a week, or send a text massage or an email twice a week. These are only suggestions. How you decide to do it, it's entirely up to you.

While I was backpacking alone in Asia, I sent a text message to my parents every time I switched location and emailed them once a week, telling them I was alright and having a good time! :-)

Of course, they were worried about me the whole time. In the end, I'm glad they trusted me enough to be on my own.

Hope this helps,

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