When Should a Child Travel Alone?

The recent story of an 11-year-old stowaway on a plane from Manchester to Rome has everyone up in arms about security. But like many others with children, my first thought was, "where are this boy's parents?" While the boy slipped away from his mother and made it several miles on foot to the airport (and subsequently to Rome with no ticket or passport), the escapade got me thinking about children traveling alone. At what age would you allow your child to travel without a guardian?

As a child, I remember neighbor kids traveling alone to visit relatives, and the preparations necessary to send a youngster onto a plane by himself. Many airlines define an unaccompanied minor as a child between the ages of 5 and 11 years who is traveling without an adult. But what age might you consider appropriate to put your child on a plane or train alone?

We're curious to know what you think. Let us know in the comments whether you'd send a child to travel alone, and when you might consider it appropriate.

(In case you missed this story, you can read about it here.)

(Image: Licensed for use under Creative Commons by Flickr user the eye in TEAM)

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Beth is a writer, crafter, DIYer and design enthusiast, living in L.A. with her husband, 2 young boys, and a large mutt named Caesar. She loves fonts, yoga, matcha lattes, and home-grown tomatoes and is not shy about being a consummate nerd.