College Student Life | Elon University

What I Learned From Getting Stuck Alone

Sometimes traveling isn’t picture perfect, but it can teach you a thing or two. 

When I was 19, I flew from Phoenix to Raleigh by myself after a week long vacation with my family. I had a layover in Dallas. This was at the beginning of February, on Super Bowl Sunday actually. There were storms in the Northern US that were horrendous. They caused my first flight to Dallas to be delayed a few hours. This then caused me to miss my connection flight to Raleigh. I also missed the next and last flight to North Carolina for the night as I had to wait in a three-hour line to get a new booking. I was stuck in Dallas, my layover city. No baggage. No parents. No mode of transportation.

It was midnight and I was exhausted after a full week of adventures and a long day of traveling. I was upset and alone and I didn’t really know what to do. The airline wouldn’t even put me in a hotel room. They told me the airport would put out cots around midnight that I could sleep in for the night. As a 19-year-old girl traveling alone, I wasn’t about that.

To be honest, my first reaction was to go sit down and cry. I was just too tired to deal with anything and had never been in a situation like this before.

After a few frantic calls to my parents (who were also dealing with flight delays), my older brother came to my rescue and recruited a friend of his who lived nearby to come and pick me up (thank goodness for older brothers). I got a hotel room, I got back to the airport, and I was able to get back to school in North Carolina with no problems the next day. It was not the most fun I have had when traveling but I did learn a few things and it prepared me for future travels alone.

Scotland Highlands Liz Domeck Image

While it may not be the best experience you will have traveling, there are a few things that getting stuck alone can teach you.

Just how independent you are. When you are stuck in a sticky travel situation, you learn just how independent you are as an adult. Traveling alone in college gives you the chance to grow in your independence. Mom and dad aren’t with you, so you have to lean on you own independence and depend solely on yourself. Sometimes travel isn’t pretty.

Travel is not meant to always be pretty. You will have flight delays and cancellations. You will lose baggage and have possessions stolen. Bad weather is bound to happen and some things may not go exactly how you pictured them to be. Learn to be okay with these little mishaps – they are part of the adventure of travel. Things don’t always work out as planned.

This is a life lesson as much as it is a travel lesson. You could have the “perfect” itinerary planned out for your trip but that isn’t going to stop things from getting in the way. There is only so much you can control. If you give up those perfect expectations, your travel experience will be more enjoyable.

 How to handle what travel could throw at you. Learning how to navigate the curveballs you get thrown during traveling teaches you how to handle anything. You become a stronger, smarter, and more confident person who is better able to handle everyday problems you could face.

Trust yourself. Believe in yourself. Facing situations that aren’t exactly the easiest to handle can only make you stronger. As you grow in your independence while traveling, you soon realize how much you can do by yourself. You realize you are more capable than you ever thought and that can only lead to more confidence behind the phrase “I can do this”.


Getting Stuck, Solo Travel Lessons Learned


Liz Domeck

Elon University | 11 stories

Cleveland born and raised. Living in the south while attending school in North Carolina working toward Strategic Communications and Public Health degrees. Has a love for Jesus Christ, all flavors of ice cream, elephants, and exploring new places. In her free time, she reads lots of books, frolics in random places, and spends time playing soccer. She's determined to fill her passport with stamps and to never stop learning.

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