I didn’t realize how much the Icelandic volcano’s eruption has disrupted travel until I was watching Gerlado at Large this past weekend. One of his guests said it was going to be much worse than travelers stranded for just a couple of days. It could take people an additional week to get a flight to London. (And maybe also from London.)
I haven’t experienced even an overnight delay yet while flying, but I’ve known quite a few people who have. Flights were canceled, flights were late and they missed connecting flights, then those next flights out were booked…that sort of thing. It really only takes one hitch and BAM! Your dream vacation can turn into a travel nightmare.
Twenty-four or 48 hours I could probably handle –both mentally and financially. But to be stranded for a week or better, especially overseas where prices are more? Um, it really got me thinking: what would I do?
Who do I know? Am I in a city where I know anyone? Am I in a city where someone I know knows someone? Can they help at all?
Camp out where I am. It would suck, but I’d make the best of it.
Rely on the kindness of strangers. I just read one of the most heartwarming travel stories in a recent issue of Woman’s World. An elderly woman was stranded at an airport on her way home from visiting her daughter. She missed her connecting flight, and since she was on a fixed income had no money for a hotel.
She ended up chatting with a man who turned out to be the kindest of strangers. He called his wife and asked her to set an extra place at the table. After taking the elderly woman to their house for a home cooked meal, he then paid for a nice hotel and drove the elderly lady there. In the morning he arranged to have a car take her back to the airport.
I think of such people as Earth angels. I know they exist, not only because I’ve had my fair share of Earth angels help me in my life, but because when disasters strike it tends to bring out the amazing in people. (The news often reports the worst, because that’s what sells, but the good shines too. Like that town in Nova Scotia who helped the thousands of travelers who found themselves stranded there when their planes were grounded on 9/11. That town stepped up big time and helped all those people. I think we’ll hear similar stories coming out of this Icelandic volcano debacle too.)
Use the Internet. I read a really neat story on USA Today “Q&A: How to deal with volcano-related travel disruptions” that explained options for stranded travelers and those also planning on taking European vacations in the next week or so. One of them was turn to Twitter and Facebook.
It kind of combines some of my options above, but people are using hashtags like #getmehome, #ridesharing and #putmeup on Twitter to find Earth Angels. And VolcanoHelp.eu also has been established to help “volcano refugees.”
Have you ever been stranded while traveling? What did you do?
If you were stranded, what would you do? Have you already formulated a back up plan?