Minimum Age for Couchers

Is there any indication on what the minimum signing up age will be for Couchers?
Many backpackers are 17 or even 16, and while some platforms like BeWelcome requires 18 years I believe Couchers should be open to the community of younger travelers.

Thoughts?

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I would say 18 is a good standard. I certainly think a minimum age limit should be set and I hope someone doesn’t come up with a maximum age, because that would count me out :wink:

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For legal reasons I think we’d have to stick with 18, but we definitely should keep in mind that there are couchsurfers out there who are 16 or 17.

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Younger then 18 should be accompanied by an adult, that seems so obvious.
I can only imagine what kind of problems one can meet when having a minor in the house if “anything” goes wrong. A kid could travel without permission for example, just to name the first thing that I can think off.

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You have to take in account also local customs and jurisdictions: age to travel alone can vary between 12 and 18 , there are differences also on minimum age for registering to an hospex service (in Europe is 13 to 16 according countries). For example here minumum age to register to service is 14, while for traveling alone can be 14 (with implicit or explicit permission - explicit means a written authorization to go in a certain place to a certain person, implicit is just the fact that the subject can freely show its passport), 16 (without explicit veto). other eu countries have slightly different limits but I would keep 16 as a general rule.
About pelgrim’s question: this is the reason it is advisable that anyone under 18 send its personal request, and not together with an adult accompanying, expecially if adults are parents or siblings: a request to host that came from parents has the value of an “explicit” authorization to travel while if the request come from the person itself you have just to chek on arrival that has a valid passport and that it shows that the bearer is 14 or more, so it has the implicit authorization.
The fundamental difference ifs that an explicit authorization is addressed to an host and pass to the host some obligations that the parents would have (among them: feeding the person, caring of it including if necessary new clothes and assuring a return trip, not having consensual sexual contacts if the guest is under 16) while with implicit authorization you may treat the over 14 guest as an adult, so you do not have any specific obligation or prohibition, other than the normal ones.

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While I understand that it makes sense and agree to stick with 18 for legal reasons, I just wanted to share my experience and to say that this won’t necessarily make the website lose all of the younger members.

I joined CS back in 2010, just a few weeks after my 15th Birthday, I immediately became an active member and starter traveling quite intensively. I couldn’t select an age lower then 18, so until I became actually 18, I’d just lower the age back to 18 after each birthday :smile: I had so many wonderful experiences around the world which I wouldn’t trade for anything and I could only encourage teens to start traveling young, although as long as they are mentally mature enough, can take care of themselves and their parents allow them.
Ultimately, who wants will find a way.

While that might be legally true, in practice you can travel quite young, as long as you look like you know what you are doing, I traveled alone to China and back (by land) while 17. When I was 15 in 2010 I went to around 10 countries (Mostly Central/Eastern Europe + Turkey), only the first time did I take a written and officially approved permission, but no one at the borders ever asked for it. By the time I was 18 I had visited almost 40 countries, of which at least 30 were alone.

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That’s incredible! What made you want to set off so young?

Thanks for your ideas and sharing your experience, Alek! I feel like you’d have some amazing stories. Consider submitting to our blog! :slight_smile:

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I have hosted 17 years old in CS and they were much more mature than many older.

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Agree, but to each their own. Personally wouldn’t want exposure to risks hosting for anyone less than 18 that I may or may not have accidentally assumed responsibility for.

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Hey Emily, thanks for you reply!

Well at first I just wanted to see some of the famous places in person, although I quickly found out that simply traveling, discovering new places, meeting new people etc. is a lot more fun and enriching experience then simply ticking a checkbox next to the name of a famous landmark. Also waiting to become 18 so that I could travel and plan trips on my own didn’t really make sense. :slight_smile:

I surely would like to contribute to the blog, maybe you could explain how in a private message (so that we avoid going too far off topic here)?

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as I told you: for under 18 (but not under 14) accept only requests directly from them. this way you would not assume any special responsability while you would assume if the request came from a parent. To be safe not even from a friend traveling with them (exception: an elder sibling)

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Legal responsibility vs moral responsibility are lines I just don’t feel comfortable drawing or playing with in those that would be “minors” where I live.

What if my under age surfer consumes alcohol without my knowledge, but in my house? If they get into an accident and no contact but mine is there, what is my role/connection associated with this person, not yet meeting age of majority?

A lot of “if’s” I’d rather not lose sleep over when I go to bed. Hence, my previous comment of “to each their own. [but] personally…”

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I am not going to try and argue with you, but I hope that you have actually done the research to back your arguments before presenting them.

American here and I totally understand that Europeans travel more since it’s more easily accessible, but I will not host, nor have I ever hosted anyone below the age of 18.

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I have hosted a Latvian 15 yo although his brother has stayed with many times. His brother is now a U.K. citizen. The younger brother now lives in Berlin and continues to visit me. I have also hosted younger but with a Parent… sometimes frustrating lol. I did host a Malaysian 17 yo but after much discussion with his Parents.

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I agree, the legality, and protecting minors is extremely important. 18 should be the minimum.

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In some countries, however a person is completely free to decide where to go and what to do even at 16 or in certain cases, 15. How would you cope with these cases, soneone that is considere d fully capable in its country and you want to treat as a minor ?
You would never accept them, since yu want an autorization by parents, but parents cannot give you since they have no more power on the subject.