How To Run Away From Home

*The Following guide is intended for real aspiring runaways and less oriented towards the budget backpacker.

A man thinking in india

My decision to run away from home wasn’t only motivated by my desire to travel. In fact, to be honest, much of it had to do with a growing depression surrounding school and life in general. Like many 16 year olds, I felt as though I didn’t fit in. And since school was the only life I knew, I felt depressed, hopeless and stuck.

Adding to this depression were my faltering grades. I had for most of my life prided myself on a strong academic career. When my calculator broke on the math section of the SAT’s I became totally distraught. It may sound ridiculous now, but at the time it was a huge personal failure. I felt as though I had really let myself down.

More, facilitating this downward spiral of depression were the drugs. I naively sought the comfort of drugs and alcohols in a desperate attempt to alleviate my suffering. Ironically, unbeknownst to me at the time, they only served to further my depression.

Frustrated, stagnant, depressed, hopeless, boredom, are all appropriate adjectives describing my state of mind.

I needed something different.

I needed the freedom and chance to change that I believed only travel could offer.

I decided I would runaway and travel the world.

Perhaps you feel like I did or maybe you are experiencing a painful environment at home. Whatever the case, if you are desperate and seriously contemplating running away from home, you have come to the right guide. If you need someone to talk to,  you can connect with me on Facebook and I will try to get back to you as soon as I can. Otherwise, this guide should help.

The first part of this guide will attempt to help you decide whether or not you should run away from home. Should you decide to run away, the second part will provide information on how to prepare. The third section will teach you exactly how to leave your house and get started on the road as a runaway. Finally, the last portion of this guide will teach you essential runaway skills, from sleeping on the street and eating for free to hitchhiking and jumping trains.
Disclaimer: The Runaway Guide does not condone or encourage literally running away from home if you are not an adult. 

Click On Number 2 Below For The Decision

Let Me Know What You Think!

  1. Dave says

    Watchya Leif, I have to tell you I love the site. Really uplifting, and not dire at all. I’m probably not your usual candidate for a runaway, I’m 38 with not much monetary or material wealth, but due to being a slow burner and missing the starting gun I’m looking to jack it all in and run. Not exactly sure what I’m running from, though the depression I’m feeling from my stagnation and isolation is becoming scaringly overwhelming. Anyway, have you encountered many relative old farts on the road; and if so, what’s the general consensus?

    P.S How common are pianos at train stations?

    • says

      Hey Dave, thanks! Sounds good to me! You should totally go for it. Never too late to travel. I’ve met loads of 50+ backpackers who blend right into the hostel scene. Travelers are a community and age doesn’t really matter.

  2. Anonymous says

    Hey Leif, I Plan on Leaving my Home sometime in early September, I’m 18 and ultimately desire to live a backpacker lifestyle like you I’ve read through most of your guides hell I’ve even read through almost all of the travel experts. Although I’m rather nervous about hitting the road for the first time it still is much better than the dull soul crushing monotony of middle class life, Anyway Any advice you could give me outside of the guides already written namely were to locate work and sustain myself (I’ve got more than $1000 stashed away so I should be able to stay afloat for a while) would be very appreciated. Thanks A.K.

  3. Fatima says

    Wow! What an absolutely amazing website! I never would have known had I not randomly and desperately asked Google if I should run away! Lol! I’m from a country where it’s bat crazy if a girl leaves home let alone run away! But, your pros and cons made me think. And I’m glad you put it down that way. I’m 28, a doctor and a single mom, my son will turn 4 in a few months. I’m a widow. And all I can think about is, how I can take my baby, and run away to some place where being a single mom is ok! But, so many visa formalities. But reading this website has given me hope, that maybe just maybe there’s hope and I’ll be able to extract my son and myself from this hell!
    Did I mention my inlaws have filed a custody case to take my son? So I guess that’s why I’m so desperate too!
    You think the US or UK is a good place for single mom immigrants?

    • Adam Uribe says

      The United States is a tough place to run to, but here, you’re legally an adult. I cannot see the harm in that. Although, the US has so many issues in it’s own, from their border crisis, to their over corrupted government who spies on 97% of the world.

  4. Sarah says

    Hi there, great website. I wish I’d found this website when I was 16 (I’m 25).
    Do you have any tips for someone who’s considering running away to Scotland? My chosen city is Edinburgh, because of the culture, but can’t seem to find zilch advice on accommodation and where to stay. I guess the authorities are just fed up of people who have run away. Any tips on where to stay long term would be great.

    • says

      Hey Sarah, I’ve been to Edinburgh but only briefly. My advice would be to look up hostels and when you get there just ask around. Someone’s bound to be looking for a room mate. Good luck!

  5. Neari says

    Hey Leif,

    First off, great website! I have currently hit my quarterlife crisis at 29. I have been very lucky in my career and worked hard throughout my 20’s But this is the year I will becoming a runaway too. I’m not sure if I fit into the oldie camp just yet but I have managed to blag some freelance work with a freight company who in return are giving me free passage from the UK to Turkey and then I plan to head on to India for a while. Might be something you might want to keep your eye out for. It’s slow as travel can be but it might be a good trick up your sleeve. So suppose my question is have you now changed on your travels from a runaway to wanderer?

    Stay cool & watch out for my feed me package.


    • says

      Hey Neari,
      Thanks, I totally hear ya and think it sounds like a great idea. Working for a freight company sounds awesome. Let me know how it goes. Yup, I’ve gone from actually runaway to an endless wanderer these days.
      Good luck!

  6. kurt says

    i have a question i am 18 years old and want to run away school has gone to pot for me and i wont graduate this year my senior year my parents are people who only can think there way and dont try to find out the real resons why i have failed they imply there own i do not see a reason to stay here. i am a farmer who’s knows how to fish hunt fight and am great with improvising should i run

  7. says

    Hey man, this has been to helpful. c:
    I’m 17 almost 18 sometimes the best thing to do is just leave.
    But the most important part of this all is page 6. That is so true. Man.
    I hope I see you traveling one daaay later.

  8. Dallas says

    Thank you for this guide. It’s inspiring to read your own experiences and it’s something I’ve been strongly considering since the beginning of this year.

    Have traveled on my own since I was 18 and it was always such a rush. 10 years on I feel I don’t fit into the mould that modern society (or my family for that matter) expect of me. Can’t continue to live life the way it is anymore.

    The 9 to 5, work till you’re old and grey life just doesn’t feel right. I want to travel and see the world. See it all if fate allows. A tall order when you’re broke, but this is something I really want to do.

    • says

      Hey Dallas,
      Glad you like it!
      You should go for it brother. As my friend says, Jump, a net will appear. It’s too true.
      I’m broke too, 50$ to my name at the moment but I just trust things will work out and they always do.
      Let me know if you ever need help/advice.

  9. Boo (Brooklyn) says

    I’ve looked up this article for several reasons; as to why many people are here, to ‘run away.’ As above my name’s Brooklyn, (Obvious) female, age of 16 years. I was fascinated reading everything. From the guides and even watching the Youtube video, haha. Anyways, running away has become my last resort in my case. I’ve thought about it numerous of times and even packed a bag on a couple, though never truly making it out the door.

    This particular reason why I’m commenting is that, me and my family (my mother and father) recently got into a fight. And when I mean ‘fight’ I mean to the point of tears, punching and even verbal abuse was being slandered around. In tears I wet into my room and slammed the door, knocking it from its hinges from anger. I’ve also been going through a depressed state that I’ve come to see only tobacco can seem to help, but much like your situation it has only worsened the depression lately. When I was 15, I remember yelling to my mom that I wanted to run away, and she took it to severe cause. Almost landing me in a ‘mental ward’ or Asylum. Whatever goes. I’ve taken this deeply into thought, thus leading me to contact this page and you.

    So, my last question would be, is this smart of me to do? It seems like it’s the only thing I can look up too. And me doing photography in a couple past years has really gotten me close to nature. I’ve also taken previous views in martial arts (which may or may not be important) and weapon wielding.


    • says

      Hey Brooklyn, cool name by the way! I’m sorry to hear about the shit at home. You’re right about cigarettes making things worse. Best to stop now before it’s too late. I know it’s a bit hypocritical, but I would say to just try and stay strong, stick out and in just two years you’ll have the freedom to do what you want, whether it be going to college or going backpacking. I know it seems like forever, but 2 years goes by so fast. Use this time to focus on your photography and come up with a good plan for the future. One thing I didn’t realize was how good I actually had it at home. I had a place to stay, free food, internet, and everything else you don’t have on the road. If you leave now, life is only going to get harder. One thing I learned is that if you’re not happy where you are now, going somewhere else probably isn’t going to change that. Happiness comes from within.

  10. Julz B says

    I’ve been considering running away for a while but… I’m only 14… this makes it a good bit harder. It’s not because I want to travel or anything like that…. but my parents are verbally abusing me and there’s nothing I can do, no legal steps to take… do you have any advice and whether I should or not?

    • says

      Hey Julz, 14 is really young. Life on the road is going to be tough and not to mention dangerous. I really wouldn’t recommend it. Better to try and stick it out at home. I know it feels like forever but time will go by fast. In just 4 years, you can leave legally and with a better idea of what you want. I know it probably sucks at home but if there’s one thing I learned it’s that the more you suffer the more you grow. If you can stay strong you will become a much more interesting and unique person. And then you can leave without any regrets.

  11. Vicky says

    I want to run, but once i get out of town I want an apartment and a job…. Is there a to turn running away into building a life? I’m 18 so this could work….

  12. Seth says

    I wanna thank you, Leif. Originally my ideas for leaving were just a fantasy; something that could never happen. I came across your website about a month ago, (along with “wandering Earl,”) and I became so inspired by your stories and tips that I decided I needed a life change. My bag is now packed, my hair has been cut, and tomorrow I I begin a new chapter. (I’m in Florida right now, heading north.)

    Thanks again man. Have a great day.

  13. Juliet says

    Wow reading articles like this makes me want to just leave, but i dont want a lifetime adventure, i just want a break, there is to much pressure for so many things but if i where to leave and come back it would be worse, my parents would never forgive me and if i told them i was even thinking about it, they would put me on a crazy lock down, do you know anyway around this? (im only 14)

  14. Adam3z-the runaway says

    Blame the teens for running away not the info online they used to do it through research
    thankyou Leif i finally found the courage to runaway from this place ^_^

  15. says

    Kids have been running away- successfully and not so for a REALLY long time. Instead of looking for a cause for their son’s need to flee- they are looking to blame. I think it’s reprehensible that they picked you. I’d chat with a few barracuda attorneys about suing for slander- this hurts your reputation and causes you to do damage control. Maybe someone will want to sue Fox’s butt off on a contingency. Be worth a try!

  16. donya says

    I`m 22,after 4 years be away from home for university.. now I came back to home,and i really depressed more befor 4 years ago,i want just leave home,i cant bear this situation ……..why i cant go home??? i`m a girl and really fear of sick people in society,if i`m hurt,what can i do????

  17. Hannah says

    Medical conditions. Have you ever met a type one diabetic on the run? Just wondering, as I am diabetic myself, and can’t really imagine doing any of this without seriously getting sick. :(

  18. says

    Wow, I’ve never seen a blog quite like this! I don’t even know what to say! Gosh, I thought I was alone on my feelings of escaping. I’ve had just little tastes of freedom. I’ve been traveling to Europe on my own since I was 15, but I need more! You just can’t trap a free spirit, not mine at least. I must break free. I feel being to be plugged into a puzzle piece because I will break..! Anyways, thank you for this section or blog altogether. I needed some guidance! I’ve looked through books and movies and documentaries but never have I heard, read or watched something on a person who has actually “escaped” and shares their experience and advice. And slowly but surely I will be free too.

  19. ab.h says

    i feel like running away some days, but this actually make me think; should i really run away? and the honest answer after i read this, was no. not really.
    I might just be over-reacting.
    so thanks, i’ve changed my mind.
    ab xx

  20. Maybe Someday says

    Hey :)
    First of all I have to say I love your website. You’re my role model.
    Second I was thinking of running away. Not sure /when/ hell it may not be for the next year or two. But maybe you should make a guide on that little extra protection? Being a girl that weighs less than 100 pounds, is only 5″2 and cannot protect herself for her life (which I guess would be a common problem on the run), this is virtually my only fear. Any suggestions?
    Thanks and love the site again, me.

    • says

      Hey thanks!! I just met a chinese canadian girl with the same stats. She is going all over the world over the next two years. As long as you don’t take chances you should be alright. Best,
      Leif :)

  21. Trish Jacobs says

    What great insite. Thank you Leif for telling your story. You may help other in more ways than anyone can imagine.

    Aunt Trish

  22. Annonomous says

    This is so motivating you are still on the run,I am thinking of running away soon …is there any advice that you want to give me? I have read things on the internet of what to take and also when to do it ,but i also want to know how life is when you actually run away.Annonomous xx

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