This is not based on personal experience- it is simply the thoughts of someone who has pondered some interesting avenues of thought, and applied them to something he wishes he would do.
The best time to run away is NEVER, after that- the second best time is in your TWENTIES.
At some point, everyone wants to leave, to pack what they have, or not even that- to just drop it all and walk away. If I were to do that, this is how I'd go about it.
So, I have some change in my pocket, a wadded up receipt, and a wallet full of ID. I have the clothing I'm wearing and a backpack with a change, some food, a book, and this laptop.
I'm standing on the road outside my house, and I want to leave everything about my life behind. How do I do it?
At this point, the best thing, if you can keep it up, is to do like the name suggests and run. Jog somewhere with a bus, or a train, and get as far away from where you are as you can. Hitch rides if you don't think you're going to get screwed with. Or if you happen to be a marathon champion, just head off down the side of the road. But the first and most important step is to GET AWAY.
Once you are far enough away that you know you're not going to get picked up by the local cops that your parents (or girlfriend/wife/boyfriend/husband) are sure to call, you need a destination. So hitch a ride, or otherwise travel to somewhere with either free maps (like a rest area) or easily obtainable maps. For those of you interested in shopping with the five finger discount.
Places to Go
Basically, there are only so many kinds of places that you can go to. Generally, three, centered around population- Cities, towns and country.
Living on your own in the country would suck: in this area I have some practical experiance, and don't let anyone tell you it'd be easy. Transients have been living off of the discards of humanity for thousands of years- and you don't get discards in the country. What you do, is you starve, because the only way to eat is to catch it yourself.
Towns are marginally better, but they have their own flaws- the most glaring of which is that everyone will know you're a transient (a bum) in a very short time. Which doesn't matter if you're just passing through, riding the rails or your thumb, but not ok for longterm survival.
So that leaves the cities. Cities can be more anonymous, but have their own dangers. The best way to avoid many of these, is to NEVER, EVER take anything from a stranger, or talk to them, or take a ride from them. Like your mom taught you, right? The worst time to run away to a city is in your teens, but if you're an adult attempting to lose your life you won't have as many problems of this nature.
Getting there and...
So now you pick out a city, say, Chicago, and you want to get there. If you can find some well used train tracks with a sharp turn or a steep hill in them, and a train with boxcars, you could travel by train- just run, jump and grab.
The second option is your thumb- it is a powerful, though erratic tool. Hold it in the air long enough, and someone will pull over to give you a ride. There is a downside to this method of travel: your travel speed is directly proportional to how you look and your gender. Pretty people get rides, and girls get rides, while ugly people and guys don't. The tougher/rougher you look, the less likely you are to get a ride. The upside of getting fewer rides is that you won't get raped, killed or robbed on the ones you do get.
You have two other options, however. You could pay for a bus ticket if you have the money, which is probably the best option for the well padded transient. Or you could, through many and various methods, illegally aquire transport- steal a car, a bike, or fake your way on to a bus or train.
You also need a place to sleep, and food to eat on the way to Chicago (or NY or L.A. etc.). Since all of this is covered in dumpster diving for fun and profit I won't go over it again. Essentially: food, clothing, furniture and (sometimes) shelter are found in one type of spot- dumpsters. Obviously furniture stores would have furniture, food places will have food and thrift stores will have a nice blend of clothing, furniture and electronics. Anything that sells something, throws it away as well. Don't make the mistake of jumping gleefully into a fast food dumpster looking for a good jacket.
The best places to sleep are where-
No one else does.
Its dry and soft.
You're not going to wake up with a flashlight shining down on you.
So if it's not raining
, and it's not cold
(here's a tip: DON'T RUN AWAY DURING WINTER) then you could probably roll up in a blanket under a bush
. Sleeping on the ground
is painful at first, but becomes acceptable once you get used to it.
Bridges are good if no one else is using them, but are frequented by people you don't want to run into. Dumpsters are also fine, as long as there is nothing hard, or food related in them. So climb into a home depot dumpster and sleep in style. If you are traveling overnight in anything, or can arrange to sneak onto a subway, you could sleep in relative comfort. Wherever you sleep, eventually you are going to have to sleep somewhere you don't want to- so pack blankets.
Food isn't as much of an issue as it seems. I warned you about jumping into fast food dumpsters? Well that applies here to- they are disgusting. What you want is a yuppie store, a bread store or something like that: a place where the food comes in sturdy containers, costs a lot, they throw it out at a hint of damage and they microwave everything. Bread or microwave. That's it. If they make their own food what you're going to find is a few burgers covered in tons of rotting tomatos and lettuce. A good deli is probably your best shot for food- they throw out a lot of dated bread and other, less messy sandwich-style fixings.
ID: Staying Lost.
So you traveled a good ways, you slept under some hedges and in a dumpster full of records that should have been shredded. Now you're coming up on Chicago, and you're still carrying your ID, your library card, a crumpled receipt, and all that fun stuff that tells the cops: "Yeah, I'm the guy you're looking for, my family wants me back." What you do here, is ditch anything that's not vital, which means anything besides an SS card, drivers license and voters registration card. Burn it.
Unless you're very sure you never want to go back, keep your vital information. Put it somewhere safe, but not on your person. If you have a place you're going to stay near, like a particular row of businesses or a public place, find a VERY good hiding place- like in the roof a restroom. Most big buildings use plaster tiles that are normally loose: you can stand on the toilet and push one aside. Just make sure you put it in an out of the way place, away from any hidden caches of condoms or magazines.
You could also hide your vital information by burying it, lowering it into a roof vent on a building, or putting it anywhere not easily accessable.
Making new ID...
There is no one way to build a new deck of identification, all you need to know is that all pieces of ID are based off of another piece of ID. So if I wanted to get a library card in a different name, where they don't simply take my word for it, they will ask for a letter to me at my address or something basic like that. If they need something more, go to somewhere where they will take your word for it, and bring back a library card from another library to wave at them.
To get a letter to your "address", you could simply type up all the fake info on a different library's computer, print it for twenty cents or so, and cut and past it on an envelope. Take the c/pasted envelope to some kind of office supply store along with another envelope and make a copy of the address onto the clean one. Or, simpler- just slide an envelope into the library printer when no one's looking and print direct.
The point is, it may be difficult, but it's possible to build a completely different identity from the ground up, starting with easily forgable papers (like a letter) and then using legitimate ID to get more important ID.
And that's it. A basic outline for running away successfully. Please remember this is both speculation and a basic node on running away, and unless you are an ADULT, who is capable of defending him/herself and making intelligent decisions, DO NOT RUN AWAY. It's a good way to get raped and murdered in an amazingly short amount of time.