I'm a 16 year old citizen of Ukraine, living in Poland, and I want to travel to Lofoten, northern Norway, by hitchhiking from Warsaw. One of the adventure's goals is to spend as little money as possible. And when it comes to where to sleep, problems begin, because I'm not allowed to use couchsurfing etc. because I'm under 18. It's okay for me to sleep in a tent and a sleeping bag, but it would be nice to stay at someone's home from time to time to take a proper shower, to cook something in the kitchen and to sleep beneath the roof.

One option I thought of is for my father to create an account for me. Then maybe I can use it, just to see where there are houses with couchsurfing hosts in the nearest city, go there ask them whether they'll let me to stay for a night. Would I be able to do this without a problem?

Also, I have a type D visa allowing me to be in any Schengen country for less than 90 days.

Edit: I see, that i have forgotten to mention some details, so it led to a lot of misunderstanding regarding my situation.

I live in Poland with my family, and no, I am not going to just run away from home for this trip :D. No, I'll of course inform my parents about the trip and I'll have written permission from them to travel (i even already have one :). I will take my card which is connected to my father's account and some cash to by food etc. My parents will provide me with some money, they can even pay for me staying in hostel every night, that's not the problem - i just want my trip to be something like this. I have already read about right to roam and i know basic hitchhiking rules.
Also, in my plan about using father's couchsurfing account, i don't want to "book" houses or make any contact through the system, no. I'm just wondering wether there is a "map" on this website that allows users to see where there are couchsurfing hosts in particular city with their exact adresses given, so that i can go there by feet, knock the door, and if the host would be there, ask him wether he'll let me stay for one night (menitoning that i'm 16). This would be better than just asking people in random houses, because on couchsurfing i can see wether person is good (reference system) and if i just knock random door there might be paedophile living etc.

Also, camping sites and hostels with €20 per night are not really the best option for me, because that would cost a little bit, considering the fact that my trip would take me approx one month, and that i don't want to spend a lot of money.
I was asking about some free options like "search for houses with families or grandparents and ask them wether they'll let you stay for a night in their garage and use their shower".

P.S.: are there free public showers on my way (Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway)?

  • 38
    Using someone else's account, then showing up while you are under 18, might create problems for the people you are staying with. Especially is it turns out that the under age person in my house is not the person that booked with me. Be very careful about that!
    – oerkelens
    Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 16:26
  • 7
    I wouldn't recommend hitchhiking to anyone of any age.
    – Burgi
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 11:49
  • 6
    @Burgi I fully disagree with you. Hitchhiking is a great experience. However, there are definitely some basic rules to observe in order to lower the risks. These probably also depends on the time and the location.
    – Surb
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 12:05
  • 3
    @Burgi - I would say hitchhiking is one of those things that sounds great when you're in your teens or twenties, but not so much once you get some life experience under your belt. But that's just my personal opinion.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 20:16
  • 8
    Most of them I declined politely, but this did make me aware of how people react to seeing a lonely, smelly 16 year old kid out in the woods with just a bike and a garbage bag strapped to the back. Also, to my surprise, I was able to stay at more luxurious 'campsites' (the ones with only huge camper vans, elderly people and marble bathrooms) free of charge a few times; they often didn't have a rate for just 6 square meters, a 1 person tent, no car and no power. And they probably took pity at my appearance ;) TLDR; don't underestimate the kindness of people, especially to lost 16 year olds.
    – user36505
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 9:39

7 Answers 7


If you're underage, confirm in advance with the locations you'll be traveling. Couch surfing is out of the picture if you're using couchsurfing.com, since being under 18 violates the terms of service.

Some hostels will allow you to stay if you're above the age of 16, but they usually require parental authorization. Some just have a form, some require a phone authorization, and some require a notarized document confirming consent. Having a solid plan before you go may seem boring, but giving your parents some idea where you'll be will help them sleep better at night.

Just a side note, but make sure you have access to money when you're traveling. A joint credit card with your parents, or bank account to provide quick emergency cash would be at the top of my list if I had a kid that was going to travel. You might be great at budgeting, but things happen, and being stuck in a foreign place without money sounds like a nightmare.

  • 1
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – JoErNanO
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 19:23

It might only solve a part of your problem, but there are plenty of camping sites in Sweden and Norway, where you have at least access to usually very decent sanitary installations (toilets and showers). Many of the camping sites have recreational rooms and/or communal kitchens, where you can spend some time inside, meet people and cook some food. Most camping sites also have cabins for rent. It is of course more expensive than couch surfing. Expect to pay some 15-20€/night to pitch a tent or at least 40-50€/night for a cabin. There is usually no age limit on camping sites, but at least in Norway, some sites operate with relatively high age limits to prevent youth group parties to be arranged there.

There are some restrictions near built-up areas, in nature conservation areas or in national parks, but you are otherwise in principle allowed to pitch your tent everywhere in Sweden and Norway (everyman's right).

  • 1
    "There is usually no age limit on camping sites" - I have no knowledge about Scandinavia, but in the UK some camping sites which advertise themselves as "family-friendly" have a total ban on single travellers of any age and gender from using them. That may not be a very scientific method of excluding pedophiles, etc, but a private site can legally do it if it wants to.
    – alephzero
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 0:32
  • 2
    @alephzero "Not very scientific" is a good laugh.
    – DRF
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 9:02
  • Taking into account @alephzero's point it might be a good idea to contact and maybe even book a site or two at points you can be confident of reaching, thus giving you access to facilities. Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 9:17
  • @alephzero This has spawned a new question.
    – choster
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 18:04

Another possibility for accommodation is youth hostelling. Youth hostels are per-country networks of (typically) non-profit hostels (eg Scotland's and Norway's), federated into an international network, and are intended to support precisely this mode of adventure on the part of young people. They're very much distinct from the occasionally rather seedy ‘backpackers’ hostels’ that seem to have sprung up in lots of places.

Youth hostels are located in both cities and the countryside.

My personal experience of hostels is a little out of date. A friend and I went hostelling by bike in the Low Countries (from the UK) when we were 14, and I used them to criss-cross Western Europe by myself from age 16 to early 20s; that didn't seem exceptional then. That was about three decades ago (!) but I doubt the basic ethos and atmosphere would have much changed.

I can't speak to the hitchhiking aspect (never fancied that).

  • 1
    Youth hostels in Norway are with at least 35€/night relatively expensive if you are on a tight budget. In regions with many tourists, especially in the Lofoten region, you must also expect the youth hostels to be booked out well in advance. You can't expect just to show up and get a free bed for the night. Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 16:01

Please pay no attention to all the "you're only 16" crap. Just do it. Scandinavia is very safe, especially if you're blond. check if the driver isn't drunk, which is a pretty rare occurrence there, since alcohol is expensive.

There is a law in Norway the Outdoor Recreation Act of 1957, where you can pitch a tent on a field, for two days for free. http://www.switchbacktravel.com/norway/public-access

I guess this works in Sweden https://naturetravels.wordpress.com/2008/02/08/wild-camping-in-sweden-and-the-right-of-public-access/ and Denmark too.

However....If you're white, and claim you're from Western Europe, you're save from racists, and Norway has plenty of those. I wouldn't recommend this if you are a visible minority, you could be harassed, beaten up or worse.

your biggest problem is then your stay in Poland and getting to Scandinavia.


There is another community besides 'couchsurfing.com' for the exact same thing, hospitalityclub.org, where you can register and offer/ask for place to stay.

There are also a lot of groups on FaceBook for the same purpose; as well as about hitchickers and car pooling..

  • 1
    BeWelcome.org — WarmShowers.org
    – WGroleau
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 23:04

Bring a tent, and stay at camp sites or on uncultivated land. Bring warms clothes (wool) and rainwear.

For camping on camp sites, expect to pay ~ NOK 200 (€21)/night for tenting (example), which would usually include access to shower, WC, and a self-service kitchen.

There are plenty of cabins available. Prices and standards vary greatly, and in tourist season (July-August) can be very high.

Also, the Law on Outdoors recreation, generally known as Allemannsretten (Freedom to roam) (in Norwegian) gives you the right to pitch your tent on uncultivated land (e.g. not farm land, parks or gardens), private or public, for free, provided you

a) don't stay more than 2 nights (before moving your tent somewhere else), b) don't pitch your tent closer than 150 meters from houses, and c) are not a burden to the public.

Generally speaking, stay out of the way, don't leave garbage of any kind, and observe "no camping" signs. Make sure you leave the site as you found it. The English Wikipedia article on the subject is recommended reading.


While this doesn't answer your specific question since you're obviously trying to save money, an easy solution to your problem is to look for hotels with fully automatic check-in. Here's an example of a random hotel in Norway that has such a system:

Eight months after we wrote about a keyless test, the Nordic Choice Hotel chain has become the first to implement a 100% automated check in and departure system at a major hotel. The Comfort Xpress Hotel in Oslo now allows guests to reserve, check in and check out without ever having to deal with a pesky human.

This means that while the hotel might officially forbid under-18s from staying there, they have absolutely no way of enforcing that rule. Of course it also means you'll have to pay at least 50 euros per night, as well as having to stay in more expensive locales.

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