Traveler's Survival Guide

What to do if a volcanic eruption, or any other unanticipated calamity, threatens to ground your travel plans.

Few Americans can pronounce Eyjafjallajökull, but everyone knows it spells trouble for air travelers. The April eruption of the Icelandic volcano spewed ash into European airspace, canceling more than 100,000 flights and leaving millions of passengers stranded around the world. And the troubles may not be over; some scientists are predicting that its sister volcano, the more pronounceable Katla, may erupt soon -- and cause further travel headaches. But take the proper precautions and your summer plans can still take off.

Know your rights. In situations beyond anyone's control, such as a volcanic eruption, you're entitled to a cash refund for the canceled portion of your trip. But don't expect more than that.

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Stacy Rapacon
Online Editor, Kiplinger.com

Rapacon joined Kiplinger in October 2007 as a reporter with Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine and became an online editor for Kiplinger.com in June 2010. She previously served as editor of the "Starting Out" column, focusing on personal finance advice for people in their twenties and thirties.

Before joining Kiplinger, Rapacon worked as a senior research associate at b2b publishing house Judy Diamond Associates. She holds a B.A. degree in English from the George Washington University.