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Old 02-15-06, 11:11 AM   #1
blinblue
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Question about age and camping

I am planning for a solo biking tour of about 3 months long from Connecticut, south to Richmond, VA (for my sisters college graduation) then west to Colorado (visting a good friend) and then back to Connecticut for a total of around 4300 miles. Anyway, I am really excited and can't wait to leave, however I do have some questions.

First off, I am 16 years old (will just be 17 when I leave around April 23rd), graduated from highschool and I have about a year of college done. I decided to take my spring semester off and do something cool (like this bike trip) because I wasn't feeling motivated in college and I needed to do something different.

My first question is, what problems (if any) will I have because I am not yet 18? For example, from what I have seen online, almost all campgrounds will not let anyone under 18 camp without an adult. What should I do for sleeping at night? Are there any other things that may be impacted because of my age?

Second, how much do you think it would cost each day for food and a place to sleep?

Any general tips that might apply to me? I have been trying to do about an hour each day on a trainer (until the weather gets nicer and I can go outside) and I plan to do a mini weekend trip a couple months from now to test out equipment, etc.

I know answers to some of these questions are out there on the internet, but I want to hear from people here who have been in similar circumstances.


Thanks a lot,
Blin
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Old 02-15-06, 12:06 PM   #2
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That sounds like a fabulous and exciting trip! Can't offer much suggestion on the age thing (passed that milestone quite awhile ago). There's quite a bit of information, though, on this site in the touring section. There are also a number of web sites where touring groups and families have posted information about their trips. They might be a good place to start. I think you're probably right about official campground rules, but 1) it sounds like you'll be travelling mostly at less-than-peak season and 2) you're not in a group which might be likely to be rowdy, noisy, etc. I would expect most campground attendants to be very helpful and not ask too many questions. You should definitely carry a drivers' license, though. Have a great ride!
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Old 02-15-06, 12:38 PM   #3
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I agree with joe, and I'm sure the folks at the campgrounds will allow you to camp after you tell them what you're up to. Like stated above, apparently if you're under 18 you're going to be rowdy, but you can show them that it's not the case.

hopefully things work out positively for you. And if all else fails with the campgrounds, you can always ask to pitch your tent in someones yard, or in the trees next to the road.

have fun

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Old 02-15-06, 03:30 PM   #4
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In the States, we have lawyers, and there will be issues with you not being 18 along the way. Thirty years ago, long before CF, my friend (who was 18), and I (then 17), decided to go on a little tour. We rode about 65 miles to our destination, and upon arrival, they found out that I was not 18. They called my house to make sure I had permission to stay, and told us that we could only stay one night. The issue was not my conduct, it was a matter of legality and their liability for my safety. Being under 18, you don't have the legal standing to sign the release waiver that everyone will insist on before letting anyone stay.

I wish I knew more about the law, so I'd also know if there was some way around this obstacle. Hopefully someone else here will, or perhaps someone in your family is acquainted with a lawyer. It sounds like an awesome trip, and I hope you find a way to pull it off successfully, and safely.
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Old 02-15-06, 03:47 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by USAZorro
In the States, we have lawyers, and there will be issues with you not being 18 along the way. Thirty years ago, long before CF, my friend (who was 18), and I (then 17), decided to go on a little tour. We rode about 65 miles to our destination, and upon arrival, they found out that I was not 18. They called my house to make sure I had permission to stay, and told us that we could only stay one night. The issue was not my conduct, it was a matter of legality and their liability for my safety. Being under 18, you don't have the legal standing to sign the release waiver that everyone will insist on before letting anyone stay.

I wish I knew more about the law, so I'd also know if there was some way around this obstacle. Hopefully someone else here will, or perhaps someone in your family is acquainted with a lawyer. It sounds like an awesome trip, and I hope you find a way to pull it off successfully, and safely.
That is what I was thinking could happen. And I would rather avoid that if at all possible. Anyone know of any way I could have some form that my parents could sign so that we wouldn't have to go through the hassle of calling home?
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Old 02-15-06, 04:01 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by blinblue
That is what I was thinking could happen. And I would rather avoid that if at all possible. Anyone know of any way I could have some form that my parents could sign so that we wouldn't have to go through the hassle of calling home?
Perhaps a notorized legal statement from your parents stating they will hold no campground liable for you and things that may occur. Maybe visit a local campground and expain what you are doing and ask them about options you could do that would cover them or others legally should you stay there.

If you wanted to go on the sly a credit card might not be a bad option either assuming they don't ask for ID.
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Old 02-15-06, 06:23 PM   #7
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Sounds like a great trip, best of luck to you. I might suggest that you join American Youth Hostels, and plan to stay in hostels where you can. They are generally very nice, and you'll get a bed and shower, and mingle with other travelers. Always ask about securing your bike and equipment when staying at hostels, there is usually no problems. Camping reservations can be made at most state parks, and always ask if there is a special rate for hiker-biker.
http://www.hiusa.org/ here is the link for Hostel International. Good travels, be safe!!
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Old 02-15-06, 06:38 PM   #8
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blinblue,

It is so great that you are doing this. I'm sure you will be able to work out the camping, perhaps stealth camping, or just don't mention your age. Check out http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/ for trip journals and suggestions. Have a great time and keep us posted on what you find out. Also visit the Adventure Cycling site http://www.adv-cycling.org/ , they may have some insite into the age issue.
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Old 02-15-06, 06:39 PM   #9
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Sounds like an excellent trip!

I'm not a lawyer either, but Paul L's idea may work, I don't know.

Worst case scenario would be that you become what I believe is termed an emancipated adult. That may, or may not have bad consequences ie if your parents are paying your tuition. Probably way too much of a hastle for a touring holiday, so investigate other avenues first.
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Old 02-15-06, 06:53 PM   #10
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You know - back in the Dark Ages - they made a show called "All in the Family" about a hidebound, old bigot named Archie Bunker. Of course, the implication was that the "New Generation" was just so cool and liberated. But the Boomers have more regulations and restrictions than Archie could ever have dreamed of. Back then, I hitch-hiked across the country when I was 15 and 16 with maybe $10 and a pound of pot in my backpack and didn't care about what I could or couldn't sign.

If you are worried about the bean-counters already at age 16, then I fear you'll be smothered by 25. In public campgrounds, nobody is going to even know whether or not you are 16 or 19. Private campgrounds and motels may be tougher. Consider stealth camping. Or get a fake ID. But for chrissakes, don't let them regulate you to death at your age.
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Old 02-15-06, 06:58 PM   #11
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Get a fake ID.

If it's good enough for millions of driving/working illegal aliens, it shouldn't be a problem for a bicycle tourist.
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Old 02-15-06, 07:27 PM   #12
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you say you have 1yr of college done already. You should take your college student ID with you, and produce that if somebody asks you for ID. Many college students are 18 even as freshmen.

of course if they outright ask your age you'll have a decision to make about being honest or not. It's up to you. but having a college ID might make some people feel more comfortable and ease their minds that they're not putting up a runaway or whatever they're afraid of. Also, if it comes down to it, just tell them that your only other option is to camp (possibly) illegally on the side of the road, and their campground is safer for you.

have a great trip...sounds like it'll be a blast if you can work this out.
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Old 02-15-06, 08:20 PM   #13
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Thanks for the replies guys. I don't think I go so far as a fake ID, I am trying to stay as legal as possible . I'll just bring along a notarized thing signed by my parents just in case if there is any trouble, and if they don't take that or any other reasoning, I'll just go elsewhere. I guess that is all part of the adventure.

(I look at emancipation, but there are to many other things that it changes to make it worth the time to get it done just for a biking tour)

Anyway, I am really excited and can't wait to get started
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Old 02-15-06, 10:25 PM   #14
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Campgrounds would probably be ok. Call a few local motels and private campgrounds and ask them about their policy and having a notarized letter. After a while on the road you will start to see places to pull in at dusk, sleep, and take off at first light. Good luck, have a sweet ride, and remember to go back to college .
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Old 02-15-06, 11:41 PM   #15
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I don't know about this age at the campground issue. maybe its a problem back east, but most CGs I've seen you just roll in, drop some money in a tube or a box, chat up the host a little bit if there is one, and set up.

Now as to this age issue. I personally think you are making it out to be much too big of a deal. You are going to be automonous, on a bicycle. Just don't mention it. I bet if you roll up to a bar, and walk in for a beer, you'll probably get served if you don't look too green around the gills.

I hitchiked cross country several times by the time I was your age, and never found my youth to be a handicap. Heck, I wound up running a little hotel/bar/slot place in the mountains of Nevada before I was 18, but that's another story!

I recommend you don't bring your age up. Simple.

It's not a handicap. You sound like you'll be well prepared, but speaking from the experiences of a well travelled, vagabond youth, I rarely found it to be a problem.

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Old 02-16-06, 12:30 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blinblue

First off, I am 16 years old (will just be 17 when I leave around April 23rd), graduated from highschool and I have about a year of college done. I decided to take my spring semester off and do something cool (like this bike trip) because I wasn't feeling motivated in college and I needed to do something different.

My first question is, what problems (if any) will I have because I am not yet 18? For example, from what I have seen online, almost all campgrounds will not let anyone under 18 camp without an adult. What should I do for sleeping at night? Are there any other things that may be impacted because of my age?


Thanks a lot,
Blin
All of the US Forest Service campgrounds and National Park campgrounds that I've been in have pretty detailed lists of rules posted fairly prominently, and I've never seen anything about a minimum age in the rules. Commercial campgrounds could very well be a different situation.

The suggestion about joining American Youth Hostels is a good one, although hostels are not nearly as prevalent in this country as in Europe.

Should you need medical or dental treatment during your trip, your age could very well become a factor. The notarized letter from your parents is a good thing to have, but check with a local hospital to find out exactly what other steps you should take to ensure that a hospital will be able to treat you should the need arise. Better yet, don't get hurt.
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Old 02-16-06, 01:26 AM   #17
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How old do you look?

I went camping and rock climbing once when I was 12, and the cops picked us up drove us to a phone, checked us out, and returned us. No problem. A lot has changed.

What about some stealth camping?
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Old 02-16-06, 02:43 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Bikepacker67
Get a fake ID.

If it's good enough for millions of driving/working illegal aliens, it shouldn't be a problem for a bicycle tourist.


Bikepacker67, that just the kind of advise we need more of on this site. The wee lad is off on an adventure. Just go it will all be ok. Dont fret over details or you will never do anythin.

PS I was working in the US as an illegal alian (i'm British) working with horses when I was 18. Man I had fun. Thats what being young should be about.

Just take a good pump, couple of spare tubes, hardley any gear, and a sence of humor.
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Old 02-16-06, 11:04 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blinblue
Thanks for the replies guys. I don't think I go so far as a fake ID, I am trying to stay as legal as possible . I'll just bring along a notarized thing signed by my parents just in case if there is any trouble, and if they don't take that or any other reasoning, I'll just go elsewhere. I guess that is all part of the adventure.

(I look at emancipation, but there are to many other things that it changes to make it worth the time to get it done just for a biking tour)

Anyway, I am really excited and can't wait to get started
Hi!

In addition to checking with a family attny. you might speak with your local Chief of Police and ask for suggestions. The offered college ID concept is a good one ... if you don't look your age (see older) all the better. If you belong to an organized church and can get letters of introduction from your priest/pastor/rabbi &c. that could go a long ways to helping out with introductions, offers to camp &c along the way.

Have fun!

Tim.
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Old 02-17-06, 01:28 AM   #20
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Bunch of good suggestions throughout the thread. But I think your first line of "defence" is how old you feel and appear overall. If you comport youself in a mature way, then it will help to overcome any apparent youthfulness you might actually show. But if you feel nervous that your age is going to come up, it'll show and then your age will more likely be a problem. You seem older than 16 just from your intial post in this thread; if you can carry that impression on the road, it might help you to avoid more problems than anything else.

If you have a credit card in your own name (if that's even possible, I don't know US banking stuff too well), then that would probably go a long way too. In the end, a lot of people are very practical: got the money, look like you could be old enough... these aren't the droids you're looking for.

Still, get all the paper work and stuff you can to help in case some trainee or somebody who decides to go by the book.
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Old 02-17-06, 04:34 AM   #21
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If you're looking for a free bed, a chance to meet nice people and a warm (hot) shower along the way, check this out: http://www.warmshowers.org/
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Old 04-03-06, 02:24 PM   #22
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I have another question (I figured since it is related to this, I might as well use the same thread).

I have been doing a lot of research on what stuff to buy, and I am fairly close to ordering them. However, I do have a question of what stoves to get.

Basically what it comes down to is, what fuels can I expect to be able to buy seeing as I am under 18. Are there any restrictions? I couldn't find anything that said either way. But it would be nice being able to buy fuel for my stove...

Also, if you know of any sites that give the pros and cons of the many different types of fuel, that would be very helpful (the only fuel that I have used is Coleman propane, and then only on pretty big camping stoves)

Anyone have any thoughts or experiences?

Thanks for your help, this forum has been very useful.
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Old 04-03-06, 03:07 PM   #23
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there is some information here on the mec site about fuels.
http://www.mec.ca/Main/content_text....=1144098062336

you could maybe give this topic a look, maybe you'll find something worth while in there
Stove for Touring?
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Old 04-03-06, 04:40 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blinblue
I am planning for a solo biking tour of about 3 months long from Connecticut, south to Richmond, VA (for my sisters college graduation) then west to Colorado (visting a good friend) and then back to Connecticut for a total of around 4300 miles. Anyway, I am really excited and can't wait to leave, however I do have some questions.

First off, I am 16 years old (will just be 17 when I leave around April 23rd), graduated from highschool and I have about a year of college done. I decided to take my spring semester off and do something cool (like this bike trip) because I wasn't feeling motivated in college and I needed to do something different.

My first question is, what problems (if any) will I have because I am not yet 18? For example, from what I have seen online, almost all campgrounds will not let anyone under 18 camp without an adult. What should I do for sleeping at night? Are there any other things that may be impacted because of my age?

Second, how much do you think it would cost each day for food and a place to sleep?

Any general tips that might apply to me? I have been trying to do about an hour each day on a trainer (until the weather gets nicer and I can go outside) and I plan to do a mini weekend trip a couple months from now to test out equipment, etc.

I know answers to some of these questions are out there on the internet, but I want to hear from people here who have been in similar circumstances.


Thanks a lot,
Blin
Blin, one thing...
I haven't read the whole thread, but given you are under 18, you may want to carry a parental permission letter for the trip! Just a thought that might keep you from being detained as a runaway! Other than that, be safe and have a great ride!
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Old 04-04-06, 08:47 AM   #25
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I did my first bike trip (2 weeks) at 13 years olds with friends who were 12. We had to call our parents every night, telling them details about our route and the places were we stayed. We had no problem geting campgrounds but all of them were in Canada.

When I went to the US at the age of 20 with my girlfriend, we were unable to rent a room in motels in a couple of states. I don't recal which one exactly but that really pissed me off... almost as much as when I was denied the right to drink wine in Napa Valley for the same reason. When you grow up in a different social environment, some laws can be very irritating.
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