6 Last-Minute Travel Tips for the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse

6 Last-Minute Travel Tips for the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse

In less than a month, people will look to the sky as the moon passes between the sun and the Earth in a celestial event known as a total solar eclipse. The phenomenon is set for April 8, 2024, and the next one that can be seen from contiguous United States will be August 2044, so it’s unsurprising that eclipse fever has gripped the nation. Between 1 and 4 million people are predicted to travel to the path of totality, joining the 31 million people already living within it.

Among the tours, cruises, hotels, and even scenic flights offering their own spin on the total solar eclipse experience, here are six tips that last-minute planners should keep in mind for the special day.

1. Figure out where you want to go

There are 13 U.S. states on the path of this year’s eclipse: Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine (small parts of Tennessee and Michigan are also in the path). Among all of these states, totality will occur in two national parks—Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas and Cuyahoga National Park in Ohio—and they’re expected to get crowded. Instead, consider one of the more than 100 state parks along the path, some of which are more off the radar. If you’re more of a city dweller, you can also experience totality in big cities, including San Antonio, Austin, Cleveland, and Rochester.

Consider the weather, too. According to NOAA’s past weather records, April weather seems to bring more chances of rain—meaning more potential for cloud coverage—in the Northeast than in the South.

2. Consider the length of totality

Aiming for a destination in the path of totality is a no-brainer, although the amount of totality you’ll get depends on where you go. The closer to the center of the path of totality an area is, the longer the total eclipse lasts. Take Austin and Dallas: While both are on the path of totality, Austin will get 1 minute and 46 seconds of totality, while Dallas will get 3 minutes and 52 seconds of totality. The longest duration you can get for totality is about 4 minutes and 30 seconds. Particularly traveler-friendly spots to maximize your time in the dark are Texas Hill Country towns like Kerrville (which will receive around 4 minutes and 24 seconds of totality and is partnering with NASA) and Fredericksburg (which is set to get 4 minutes 23 seconds of totality). Texas Hill Country is also one of AFAR’s best places to go in 2024.

Three people sitting in camping chairs looking at the sky with solar eclipse viewers

Fully embrace the company of nature with a solar eclipse camping trip.

Photo by Heidi Besen/Shutterstock

3. Consider camping

If you want a solar eclipse experience surrounded by nature rather than people, camping may suit you better. But booking developed campgrounds at state parks and well-known nature spots will likely be difficult at this point. As an alternative, check for privately owned land through platforms like Hipcamp or look for dispersed camping sites in a national forest, like Ozark National Forest or Green Mountain National Forest. While backcountry spots may not have amenities, they can be perfect for those seeking solitude.

In addition, be sure to check the capacity of a park when it comes to handling the influx of visitors for April 8. As an example, Erie’s tourism board is discouraging visits to Presque Isle State Park to prevent bottleneck traffic from its one entry and exit point.

4. Look into a town, festival, or last-minute tour

Plenty of places within the path of totality are putting their own spin on the solar eclipse with dedicated festivities. Get an educational experience at Rochester Museum & Science Center’s ROC the Eclipse Festival, a three-day event that includes talks titled “Frontiers of Plasma Physics” and “The Search for Earth-Like Planets” from science experts. Or lean into grandeur at the four-day Texas Eclipse Festival in Burnet, Texas; its lineup includes music performances, yoga sessions, and immersive art experiences. (If you’re heading to Texas for the eclipse event in general, check out this interactive map of special activities happening across the state.)

If the mere thought of navigating trip logistics brings a headache, check for the availability of some solar eclipse tours. Some tours still have availability, like Holland America Line’s whopping 22-day Solar Eclipse cruise tour through North America. Others, like Travel Quest’s Mexico’s Copper Canyon Total Solar Eclipse tour, only have wait-list spots. But don’t give up hope: As last-minute cancellations roll in, a quick call could secure you a place.

A cozy lobby with two red sofas, wooden furnishings, and lit fire in fireplace

High Peaks Resort in Lake Placid, New York, still has available rooms for travelers stopping by for the total solar eclipse.

Courtesy of High Peaks Resort

5. Try to get a last-minute spot at hotels in the path of totality

Hotels are leaning into the solar eclipse experience too, and properties are throwing celebrations and dedicated solar eclipse events just for the event. Miraval Austin Resort and Spa is hosting a viewing session with its astrologer, while Hôtel Swexan in Dallas is offering solar eclipse wellness activities on the evening of April 8 that includes meditation, a sound bath, and a Reiki healing session.

Keep in mind that a last-minute booking may cost a premium. Properties all across the band of totality are recording sky-high prices—even budget hotels. Similar to booking tours, do your due diligence and call to check for a cancellation.

6. Come prepared

Of course, you should wear solar eclipse glasses to prevent permanent damage to your eyes. If you’re going to an event, check to see if they will be provided or if you’ll need to bring your own. If you don’t want to buy them, you can use household materials like cardboard to make your own pinhole projector, a contraption that allows you to see the sun change shape as the moon crosses in front of it.

In addition to bringing materials for the day of the event, anticipate what happens next. The length of totality is less than five minutes, but the traffic afterwards may disrupt your plans for hours. If you’re coming from a crowded park or city, be on the safe side and come prepared with extra snacks and water.

In less than a month, people will look to the sky as the moon passes between the sun and the Earth in a celestial event known as a total solar eclipse. The phenomenon is set for April 8, 2024, and the next one that can be seen from contiguous United States will be August 2044,…

Leave a Reply