The ash cloud hovering over Europe courtesy of southern Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull glacier has caused many travelers to rethink their business and vacation plans.
It's one thing to be temporarily inconvenienced, but to be stuck in a town until further notice leaves any traveler in a quandary - the solo traveler, almost especially so.
I have had exceptional luck on my solo travels. I have rarely missed a flight, have only been stranded overnight a couple of times, and the times that I have been stranded because of weather, I have rarely missed anything critically important. In part, it's because I have learned a lot of wonderful tips and tricks in regard to traveling, but if I were stuck because of volcanic ash, my strategies wouldn't necessarily apply. Of the ones that would, here are the ones that I think are most helpful.
1. Choose Your Travel Attitude
Before you freak out, blow up, and start going through every reason that you absolutely have to get out of there, look at the situation - can you do anything? Probably not. Do the airlines want to cancel your flight? Absolutely not. Every minute that plane sits and passengers build up is money lost. So chill. Remember, that person behind that counter is not responsible for anything either, except doing the best they can to get you on your way. Breathe, wait in line, and make the best of a bad situation by being nice.
2. Pack light
If you arrive at the airport with too much luggage and you do get stuck, you'll be stuck lugging all of that around, too. Pack sensibly when you travel, and you won't get stuck dragging the baggage-equivalent of R2D2 behind you while you navigate the airline lines.
3. Stay connected
No matter what reason you're traveling for - business or pleasure - if you're going to an area where there's a likelihood you will get stuck, take your computer or any other gadget you can use to connect to the internet. Keep your job posted on what's going on, and do your best to handle your responsibilities from where you are.
4. Prepare for the best, but plan for the worst.
If you're traveling for vacation and you have a job that won't tolerate your absence, don't book your plane home on the last flight of the day; in fact, don't wait for the last day. Book your flight so you have at least one full day before you have to be anywhere.
Your best option - just roll with the flow and get home SAFELY - you'd much rather be on the ground than in a plane that shouldn't be in the air. Trust me. Grab a book. Set up temporary office in a hotel. Use the time to get to know the locals. As always, safe travels.