Have you ever wanted to run away from home? There are a lot of reasons why young people want to run away from home – some of the reasons are good and some of the reasons are not so good. But what young people really need to understand is that running away is a lot harder and a lot less glamorous than they might think. There are cold, sleepless nights; there is danger and hunger; there is a general feeling of being lost and not really knowing where to go. Regardless, there can be legitimate reasons for wanting to run away. Read this article, which can help you weigh the implications and have a knowledge edge if you decide this is the right decision for you.
Table of Contents
- 1 Weigh the pros and cons
- 1.1 Stop for a moment and weigh your options.
- 1.2 Think of all the people who might be affected by your running away.
- 1.3 Note that running away is illegal in some countries.
- 1.4 If you can, think about your motivation.
- 1.5 Write a list of all the pros and cons of running away.
- 1.6 Give your emotions a week to cool before making any big decisions.
- 2 The preparations
- 3 Long-term survival strategies
- 4 Protective measures
- 5 Summary
Weigh the pros and cons
Stop for a moment and weigh your options.
Why do you want to run away? Is there a really good reason to run away, or are you just bored or unhappy with your situation? There’s a key difference between running away for a good reason (you’re in physical danger) and running away for a bad reason (you just had a little argument with your parents). In the heat of the moment, don’t make a hasty decision, you may regret it later.
Think of all the people who might be affected by your running away.
We, humans, are a sociable species. We bond out of need and sheer necessity, but also because we derive satisfaction from being around others. Think of all the people who are seriously affected by your decision. You owe it to them. You may not know it, but they think about you all the time. Think of your parents. Even if it doesn’t always seem like it, your parents love you with all their hearts. They see themselves in you, and they want a better future for you than for themselves. Quarrels and arguments with parents do occur, but her love for you will never change. Think of the rest of your family. Your brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, grandmothers and grandfathers—they all have a relationship with you that goes deeper than mere friendship. There’s a good chance your family will feel hurt and responsible for you running away, even if they had nothing to do with it. think of your friends Your friends are the lifeblood of your social environment. They laugh with you, they cheer you up when you’re down, and they sometimes even see you as a brother or sister. Running away probably means you have to leave them behind. Think of other role models. Maybe it’s a teacher; maybe it’s a friend of your mother’s. Many of us have mentors who care about us. They want to see us successful and safe. Your decision will no doubt have an impact on her.
Note that running away is illegal in some countries.
Although most countries do not penalize minors (someone under the age of 18) for running away, others consider it illegal. For example, in some states of the United States (Georgia, Idaho, Nebraska, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming), it is considered indecent and prohibited for children under the age of 18. It is, therefore, better to find out about the legal situation online beforehand if you live outside of Germany. However, if your parents or wards have tried to harm you, you absolutely should get out of there and it’s perfectly legal – you should just do it the right way. Talk to a teacher or an adult you trust, or inform the police. Make sure you have somewhere to stay for a night or two so you don’t have to go somewhere dangerous or weird. You may worry that being in foster care or foster care is worse than living with your parents, even if they hurt you, but it’s worth the risk. You may even be able to stay with another family member or a friend’s family if you check in advance. If you live in a state in the US where running away is not illegal, you can still get in trouble with the law. In over 30 states in the US, a child who regularly runs away is considered a child who “should be supervised” (CHINS = Child in Need of Supervision). A process designed to help children lead a better life. Children who are in the CHINS program can be subject to fines, deprivation of privilege, and mandatory drug testing.
If you can, think about your motivation.
There are many reasons a child might want to run away. Dealing with the reason why can solve the problem before it gets so bad that you feel compelled to run away. Here are some statistics: 47% of runaway youth describe significant problems with one or both parents. Is there another adult who might be able to give you advice on how to solve the problem with your parents? If not, consider calling child welfare. More than 50% of runaway youth in shelters say their parents asked them to leave or knew they were leaving and didn’t care. If your parents ask you to leave or say they don’t care if you leave, go to or call the youth welfare office. It’s not betraying your parents if you want to find someone to take care of you. You deserve this. 80% of runaway and homeless girls reported physical and sexual abuse. If you are the victim of physical or sexual abuse, find an adult you can confide in (this may or may not be your parents) and contact the police to make a report.
Write a list of all the pros and cons of running away.
It often has a calming effect to put your thoughts on paper and the facts become clearer. Here are some potential pros and cons of running away. The Benefits: Potential relief from neglect, abuse (verbal, physical or sexual) and/or bullying Opportunity to travel, see new places and meet new people More freedom and the opportunity for maturity and personal growth no matter how hard it is Will development of self-confidence, a sense of being able to do things by yourself and for yourself, Cons: Increased likelihood of spending nights outdoors, on the street, under bridges or overhangs, or even on rooftops Increased likelihood of depression, isolation and helplessness (32% of runaway youth have attempted suicide at some point in their lives) Increased likelihood of violence, drugs, disease and prostitution on the street Feeling like there is no one to talk to, that nobody cares or that the Things you do make no difference
Give your emotions a week to cool before making any big decisions.
Oftentimes we actually let our emotions make decisions for us when we think we are acting rationally. That can be a good thing. But sometimes it’s bad because we convince ourselves we’re acting rationally. To cool your emotions and really give yourself time to think about potential life-changing decisions, wait a week before taking action. Reach out to people you trust and maybe talk to them about it. After a week, the rational part of your brain will likely have had enough time to make a decision.
Think about what you will do if any part of your plan goes wrong, and make excuses for everything. Here are some things to consider: What will you do if you get sick? What will you do if you get caught? What will you eat? How will you maintain good personal hygiene? How will you stay off the streets and out of danger?
Try to find safe haven with someone you can trust.
If you have someone to help you run away and who you can stay with at least for a little while, you’re so set. However, if that is not an option, where will you find refuge?
Pack a bag with a few essentials.
travel light; pack only the essentials. Now is not the time to set a record for pounds carried. Pack groceries, money, an extra change of clothes, a jacket or coat in case it gets cold, clothes with pockets, a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, and anything else you’ll need. If you don’t want to be noticeable, only pack clothes that you don’t wear often. Some other things that can help you with your task: Don’t bring a cell phone or other electronic device with you. Even if you turn them off, you can be located by them. If you urgently need a phone, you can buy a cheap prepaid device.
Try to take some of your pocket money with you, but not so much that it’s noticeable.
Maybe €10 for the bus or other transport and €50 for emergencies. If you plan to steal the money, find a way to get it quickly without getting caught by your parents. If you have a credit card, be sure to take it with you. This cannot easily be stolen from you and you can block it at any time. However, be prepared for your parents to block them if they find out you ran away. Don’t use them as your only source of money. Using your credit card can also give away your stash. The bank can trace your credit card and find out which shops and stores you have shopped at. The same goes for cell phones; so your whereabouts can be located. You must be aware of these things and act accordingly.
Wait for an opportunity to run away.
Make sure you have enough time to get away before someone notices you’re gone. Try to get going first thing in the morning, when you’re supposed to be at school or when everyone has just left the house and won’t be back anytime soon. If you decide to do this, don’t hesitate. The last thing you want is for someone in the neighborhood to notice you’re leaving.
Find a means of transportation.
You probably want to choose a quick and easy mode of transportation. The city bus is your best choice or long-distance bus if you want to get out of town/city.
Long-term survival strategies
Make up a story.
You have to realize that at some point in your journey, someone will want to know who you are, where you’re from, and what you’re doing in that place. You should think about that a little. Think of something sensible and realistic, but don’t say you ran away. keep it simple You want to tell the story the same anywhere, anytime, because word travels fast in this world, so you’ll want to stick to one variant so as not to draw attention. Avoid contradictions by preparing the details beforehand. If you’re really serious about running away forever, change your name. Have fun with it, but don’t choose anything too crazy. Think about it, something ordinary would probably be best because it’s harder to remember and after all, your main goal is not to be noticed.
Live near grocery or candy stores.
These places usually offer samples that you can snack on. Make sure you have a shopping cart with you though and try to look like you’re here for a reason; don’t hang around. You can also use the public toilet to wash and do business. It’s not glamorous, but you can always search the bins behind major grocery stores. You’ll really be amazed at what people throw away. The more you containerize, the more used you’ll become to foods that are past their sell-by date. This may make you uncomfortable at first, but you should get used to it quickly.
Find shelter if you don’t have one.
If you have no place to stay, then you must seek refuge elsewhere. Try to find a reasonably safe spot under a bridge, in an alcove, in an abandoned building, or maybe in a public building that’s open 24/7. If that doesn’t work, try looking for the nearest homeless shelter and check the availability of places to sleep. If you just need a place to stay to pass some time, then public libraries, churches, college buildings, airports, and train stations are possible options. These places are safe because there are usually enough people around you that make it easy for you to go unnoticed. If you’re downtown during the winter months, you can try to find a building with an elevator. Try to go all the way up the stairwell next to the elevator. There you might find a nice and warm place where not so many people go. Stay away from forests or the desert. These places tend to be very rural, making it easier for other people to bully you. As romantic as it may seem, it’s really hard to live in nature these days, especially if you don’t know anything about the animal and plant species. Try to find places with other people nearby; they are usually safer.
You will likely need money at some point, so learn to beg.
Begging is asking other people for money. There’s not much pride in it and some people will just ignore you, but with the right strategies, you can be quite successful, maybe even so good that you can save some money. Choose the right location. Find a busy place where a lot of people are walking around, such as in front of a mall, supermarket, or store. Many will have a change in their pockets, so ask customers for money after they come out of the store, not before. Alternatively, ask motorists for money at a busy intersection. Make sure you stand to the left of the cars, where the driver’s side is. Smile and ask people for loose change in a friendly and polite manner. You won’t get much money if you look mean, frustrated, or unhappy. If someone gives you money, thank them with a smile and a friendly remark.
Use a foreign accent
Not Some find faking a foreign accent enticing, but in general, it’s a bad idea. A foreign accent draws attention to you. People want to know more about you and your culture when you should be trying to be as inconspicuous as possible. Also, it’s extremely difficult to fake an accent; it doesn’t matter how good you think your foreign accent is, but how everyone else sees it.
Care for you
This part is by far the hardest, especially maintaining a healthy diet and good hygiene. Hospitals are known for having particularly clean toilets and good privacy. Here are a few more tips you can use to maintain good hygiene even when you’re not having a great time: Use restrooms in large grocery stores. There’s not a lot of privacy there, but neither is there much footfall (Think about it: how often do you use the restroom in a grocery store?). You’ll likely be able to treat yourself to a little cat wash there and use some of the free soap on offer. Use regular lube to shave and straighten your hair. It sounds crazy but it works. Apply a dab of lube to your skin and work it in with a little water. Shave, making sure to wash the razor out immediately. If you need to straighten or tame your hair in the morning, a little gel works wonders and it’s invisible afterward. Shower in public swimming pools, as well as colleges and universities. If you pretend to be a student, colleges often don’t ask for your ID. It won’t always work, but it’s worth a try, especially if you can get a resident to believe you belong there.
Decide what happens when you run out of food.
Make a plan, and if you really run out of options, consider going home. Or if you’re really serious about running away, start a whole new life. Find a job, a place to live (no matter how bad, all you need is shelter from the weather), and some friends in your new town or community.
Control your despair productively.
If you’re feeling a bit unlucky and running out of options, you can quickly feel a little desperate. Try to control this feeling instead of letting it tempt you into taking hasty steps. Get a good meal in your stomach, even if it means spending every penny you have left. Take a deep breath, even if it feels like a waste of time. Think back to a time when you felt powerful and resourceful, ready to take on the world. Control your despair by controlling your attitude. There is no problem that cannot be tackled with a little imagination and courage.
If you decide to hitchhike, remember that there are drivers who want to do bad things to you. They could let you down or even hurt you. On the other hand, there are also really nice people who would like to take you with them. It’s all about assessing the driver correctly and making the right decision. Try hitchhiking with a nice woman, a family with several children, or a car with other passengers. They’ll probably ask you where you’re going or what you’re doing, so have a nice little lie ready. Don’t tell them you ran away and talk about yourself as little as possible. If a scary-looking person offers you a ride, first ask them where they’re going. If she answers, tell her you want to go somewhere else, preferably far away. If she says she can take you there, politely decline and then end the conversation. Wait until she drives away.
If you are in a big city with a lot of people, you should know that there are likely people who could pose a danger to you. Carry something with you to defend yourself with, such as pepper spray. However, being aware of the dangers and consciously avoiding them is usually better than facing them. Remove yourself from people who pose a threat to you. Stand tall, tall, and keep your cool, but don’t get into arguments or irritate the person. Try to go to a public, well-lit area where there are a lot of people. The crowd usually protects you.
Don’t get drawn into prostitution.
Don’t let anyone force you to do anything that makes you uncomfortable. And if you’re ever so desperate that you feel compelled to resort to this way out, you should definitely seek help. Local nonprofits and churches will help you without asking many questions. Prostitution is often a result of running away. In fact, a 1998 study found that 43% of runaways, whether boys or girls, were forced to go shopping after leaving home. That’s almost half. Because of this high probability and because of the poor sanitary conditions, runaways have a significantly higher probability of contracting HIV/AIDS. So be very careful.
Avoid drugs and alcohol.
Homeless youth are significantly more likely to become addicted to alcohol and/or drugs. This can lead to illnesses such as HIV/AIDS or even death from an overdose. And that’s just in addition to the normal side effects of drug or alcohol abuse. Be careful and don’t do drugs, no matter how bad you feel.
Avoid getting arrested.
Homeless people are disproportionately arrested, usually for harassment, loitering or trespassing. You don’t want to end up in jail, so be careful where you are and how you look and act.
Be careful around other homeless people too.
Some people are homeless because they’ve had a hard time, and those people can be wonderful. But some others are very desperate and mentally unstable. Especially in countries where mental health care is notoriously inadequate (such as the United States), many mentally ill people end up on the streets. These people can be dangerous and attack you for no reason. Keep your distance from other homeless people to protect yourself.
Wear a cap or something that somewhat covers your head/face when traveling by train. The camera footage of the local train station is checked. Avoid places where you like to spend your time. A restaurant or the arcade you like to be at is in place that the authorities will check. You can use public washrooms in malls and stores, and you can maintain your hygiene in public pools or gym locker rooms. Don’t try to wear something that people might recognize you in. For example, if you always wear a football club scarf, don’t wear it! Don’t stay in a place where your parents and the police would look first. Your girlfriends, family members and close friends’ homes are the places that are checked first. If you decide to run away permanently, then maybe you should try to change yourself. Think of it as a “reboot”. Changing your name is a good start. A new hairstyle and makeup will make you different from your previous self. Try new clothes too. If you have a good knowledge of the wilderness, then you can try packing a tent and living in nature. However, this is not a good permanent solution. This should be fairly obvious, but avoid places where you could be seen by someone who knows you and could report you to the police. Therefore, you should try to keep a safe distance from home. If you decide to run away, take something with you to do. Otherwise, you might get bored. Don’t tell your friends you’re running away. You could tell your parents. Unless they are loyal and will help you run away.