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Total Solar Eclipse

Total Solar Eclipse 2024: It’s Not Too Late to Plan Your Trip

The next total solar eclipse will cross the skies of parts of Mexico, the U.S., and then Canada on April 8, 2024. If you're set on seeing it, you're planning a trip around a grand total of four minutes of totality – maybe less. So you need to dial in your plans right away.

Planning for a weather-dependent event on a single day breaks so many of our rules about booking travel, like using the Flight First Rule to travel when it's cheapest. But you just don't have that luxury for this potentially once-in-a-lifetime chance to catch a total solar eclipse. And everyone I know who caught the last total eclipse in 2017 said it was a must-see, even a life-changing visual display.

 

Total Solar Eclipse

 

If you're just starting to think about your travel plans, you're behind millions of Americans who have been planning their eclipse trip for months. But all is not lost. Because the eclipse will touch so much of North America, there are still ways to save on a trip to see the phenomena later this year

Here's where to start.

 

When and Where Will the Total Solar Eclipse Be Visible?

The total solar eclipse falls on April 8, 2024. It will be visible in southern Texas around 1:30 p.m. local time and exit the northeastern part of Maine around 3:30 p.m. ET, just an hour later.

According to NationalEclipse.com, the path of totality – where the total solar eclipse will be visible – follows this line, which arcs across the United States.

 

U.S. Eclipse map
Map courtesy of NationalEclipse.com

 

As you can see, the total solar eclipse will be visible in the United States from Texas to Maine. Before it reaches the U.S., though, it'll be visible in the Mexican cities of Mazatlán, Durango, Nazas, and Torreón first. After the eclipse leaves the U.S., it will be visible in Montréal, Moncton, and Gander in Northeast Canada, too.

If you thought you'd be able to take a big trip abroad to catch this total eclipse, you're out of luck. This is a North American event only.

Texas will certainly be among the most popular places to see the eclipse with the major cities of San Antonio, Austin, Waco, Dallas, and Fort Worth all in the path of totality. Many eclipse chasers will also set their sites on Niagara Falls, which should be a stunning backdrop for the phenomena. The same goes for the Burlington, Vermont area and the Green Mountains. Plus, there are plenty of other interesting spots to celebrate the eclipse like Indianapolis where Indianapolis Motor Speedway will be packed with eclipse watchers, too.

Here are some of the most interesting places (in our opinion) to travel to see the solar eclipse on April 8, 2024:

  • Mazatlán, Mexico
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • Austin, Texas
  • Waco, Texas
  • Dallas-Forth Worth, Texas
  • Indianapolis, Indiana (At Indianapolis Motor Speedway!)
  • Buffalo, New York (At Niagara Falls!)
  • Burlington, Vermont (and the nearby Green Mountains)
  • Montréal, Québec, Canada
  • Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada
  • Gander, Newfoundland, Canada

While this list seems fairly large, most travelers are likely targeting just a few of these locations. For instance, the weather in April is a much better bet in Texas than it will be in Newfoundland.

And it's likely hundreds of thousands of Midwesterners will flock to Indianapolis Motor Speedway to watch the eclipse at that huge gathering. Would it be better to road trip to nearby Carbondale, Illinois to beat the crowds instead? That depends on your appetite for crowds.

TheGreatAmericanEclipse.com has more detailed maps of every region on the continent to show you exactly where and when to expect it and which towns will be in the path.

 

See the Eclipse From the Air

Delta runs dozens of nonstop flights on April 8 that will catch at least a glimpse of the eclipse, but a few of their flights will fly in the path of totality on purpose.

Last week, Delta announced it would operate an Austin (AUS) to Detroit (DTW) flight that will be in the path of totality for the duration of the flight. That flight sold out fast, and due to popular demand, they recently added another one!

Delta says searches for AUS-DTW flights spiked 1500% after they announced the first eclipse flight. If you want the longest possible view of the eclipse, book a window seat on one of these flights.

 

Book Your Eclipse Lodging ASAP!

Because the date and time of the event are set in stone, we're abandoning the Flights First Rule for the eclipse.

The first thing you should do is start looking for lodging. Remember: Everyone else is already doing the same, so time is of the essence. You might not be able to find the cheapest accommodations you've ever stayed at, but it's time to start looking.

Some go-getter friends of mine secured their Airbnb near Austin, Texas for the eclipse over 10 months ago. At that time, pickings were already getting slim for lodging options in the area.

If you want to view the eclipse in private, look through Airbnb to find a place with a backyard, or near one of your viewing points. Airbnbs can help you if you're traveling with a group – or if you've run out of hotel options on your search.

 

airbnb price filter

 

Read our tips for booking the best Airbnb, no matter where you're headed!

Of course, a good old hotel room will also do the trick for most travelers. We love using Google Hotels to start our hotel booking searches. Google Hotels is most useful because of its search filters. You can narrow down exactly what hotel amenities you require when you want to stay, and your budget and Google Hotels handles the rest, including showing you the best spot to book.

This might end up being a pricey option, however. Hotel room rack rates are looking high in some of the most popular eclipse-viewing areas. If that's the case, consider using your points and miles to book available rooms, or cover some of the total cost.

Finally, in the warmer climates where the eclipse will be visible, many eclipse watchers may opt to camp outside. You could use this method as a last-minute lodging band-aid, or an intentional escape for a few nights under the stars. If you're looking for a unique campsite like a glamping setup, a rustic cabin, or just a plain old fire ring and picnic table, use HipCamp to start your search.

 

Book a Cheap Flight to See the Total Eclipse

Flight prices to locations where you can see the eclipse will vary depending on where you're heading, but the airlines have noticed the spike in interest in flying the week of April 8, and the prices they're charging to places like Austin, San Antonio, and Indianapolis reflect that right now.

If you want to ensure you've got something, book at least a Main Cabin fare to your desired eclipse-viewing destination, then set a Google Flights Price Alert on the flights you booked. That way, if the price of your flight goes down between now and April 8, you can rebook the flight at the new, lower price – or just change your flight and get a voucher for the difference!

If your first glance at flight prices has you scared, here's what you can do.

First, consider a nearby airport to see if you can save. Fly to Rochester, New York (ROC) instead of Buffalo (BUF) to get close to Niagara Falls. Fly to Albany (ALB) instead of Burlington (BTV). Think Dallas (DFW) or Houston (IAH) instead of Austin (AUS). You get the idea.

Second, think about flying in way ahead of the eclipse (or flying out way after) to reduce costs (which will, of course, likely raise your lodging costs). If you fly in more than a week ahead of time, you'll likely see better pricing rather than the much higher airfare of the higher-demand eclipse travel period.

 

coronavirus news travel

 

Eclipse Airports and Cheap Flights

The following major U.S. and Canadian airports are all in the eclipse's path of totality or within an hour's drive of the path.

  • Austin (AUS)
  • Buffalo (BUF)
  • Burlington (BTV)
  • Cincinnati (CVG)
  • Cleveland (CLE)
  • Dallas (DFW)
  • Dallas (DAL)
  • Detroit (DTW)
  • Indianapolis (IND)
  • Little Rock (LIT)
  • Louisville (SDF)
  • Montréal (YUL)
  • Ottawa (YOW)
  • San Antonio (SAT)
  • St. Louis (STL)

As you can see, that's a significant list with tons and tons of nonstop flight options from all over the country. Some stand out more than others either for good weather or cheap flights.

For instance, there are hundreds of nonstop flights a day into Austin (AUS) and Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) alone. With the weather expected to be the best in Texas on April 8, many travelers are targeting the Lone Star State for their eclipse festivities.

Last year, we compiled all of the cheapest domestic flights to Austin (AUS), Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), and San Antonio (SAT) for our Thrifty Traveler Premium subscribers so they could get the first chance at booking these low, low fares.

 

Eclipse Flight Deal  

These fares are long gone. Subscribe to Thrifty Traveler Premium to get the next alert when flight prices drop for the eclipse! 

It featured low fares from Colorado to Massachusetts and everywhere in between for eclipse-goers looking to mess with Texas next April.

 

Eclipse flight deal information

 

The cheapest fare on this deal was from New Orleans (MSY), where it would only cost you $177 roundtrip to get into the path of totality on eclipse week.

 

New Orleans to Austin airfare for eclipse week

 

We've also sent flight deals to many of those eclipse cities and anticipate some more low fares will come in the near future. We recently found a Buffalo (BUF) deal to help travelers get to Niagara Falls and a Burlington (BTV) deal to get people to the Green Mountains. The most popular one we found was flying to Montreal, Quebec (YUL).

 

Montreal flight deal  

This list of fares to Montreal, including the day of the eclipse, surprised us at Thrifty Traveler Premium. Peak season airfare doesn't go on sale that often, but eclipse day airfare is especially rare. Thanks to Air Canada and Delta, flights to Montreal for eclipse day were unfathomably low!

 

Eclipse flight deal

 

There were dozens of flight options under $399 roundtrip to get travelers up to the path of totality this spring.

We're keeping an eye on all eclipse airports for cheap flights every day and are keeping a special eye on that first week in April!

 

You're Going to Need a Rental Car

Let's say you pull into a city park and set yourself up for perfect eclipse viewing … and then the clouds roll in.

Many eclipse chasers have said the same thing: On the day of the eclipse, you need to be mobile and agile. That's why you are going to need some wheels for your journey.

 

Eclipse watchers

 

When it comes to rental cars, we'll keep this simple. The number one tool is called Autoslash. Start your search there if you want to rent a car through the traditional car rental outfits at major airports. Autoslash will even track your reservation and alert you if you can rebook for less.

If good cars are scarce or too pricey, your next stop should be Turo: the Airbnb of cars. Turo rentals are shockingly easy and convenient, plus you can filter for the exact car you require instead of rolling the dice with whatever mid-size SUV the rental car company has ready for you.

Otherwise, if you have annual travel credits from credit cards like the *chase sapphire reserve* or the *venture x*, consider deploying those funds toward the cost of a rental car – just keep in mind you'll need to book through the Capital One Travel portal to use your $300 Venture X credit.

Don't get caught flat-footed on eclipse day without any transportation!

 

Where to Go and What to Do Around the Eclipse

From the southern border of Texas to Northeast Maine, communities are looking to take full advantage of the influx of visitors around April 8 by throwing festivals, viewing parties, and celebrations.

Burlington, Vermont estimates it'll see an influx of 250,000 or more visitors to the area to see the eclipse, which would increase the population in the city by 40%, according to a report from the Burlington Free Press. Crucially, this expected uptick in tourism during the month of April comes during what is typically one of the slowest months of the year in the Northeast.

Nearby Jay Peak, a ski resort in northern Vermont, is hosting an eclipse viewing event on April 8. The resort said it will be running its chairlifts and trams to get eclipse viewers to the top of the resort for the best viewing angles. Jay Peak is even throwing a party afterward with live music to cap off the celebration.

 

Jay Peak Vermont Total Solar Eclipse Viewing Party
An online announcement of Jay Peak's “The Whiteout” eclipse celebration April 8, 2024

 

Indianapolis Motor Speedway is planning to host an eclipse watch party if you want to cozy up with 235,000 of your closest friends in Indiana, for instance. Niagara Falls is also bracing for huge crowds on April 8.

All over the country, towns and cities will likely turn into madhouses of travelers looking to see the total eclipse and many are preparing to turn it into a celebration like no other. In fact, the organizing group around the 2024 eclipse has published a list of the celebrations you can find in every state where the total eclipse will be visible.

Whether you want to visit the Kerrville, Texas Total Eclipse Festival, the Mill Shoals, Illinois Eclipse Music Festival, or any other celebration in small-town America, that list from National Eclipse is exhaustive and is updated regularly.

 

Bottom Line

Travelers all over North America plan to chase the total solar eclipse that will arc over the United States on the afternoon of April 8, 2024. If you hope to be one of them, it's not too late to plan your trip.

Luckily, there are dozens of interesting places from where you can view the eclipse next April. The challenge will be securing lodging, flights, and transportation so you can make sure you see it.

 

This story has been updated. A previous version contained data about the length of eclipse totality from the 2017 eclipse, not the 2024 event. 

1 Responses

  • Just an FYI, Southern Illinois was not ready for this 7 years ago…. took literally roughly 15+ hours to drive home to Chicago from Carbondale leaving immediately after the event. Indy might in fact be a better place to watch as they are used to hosting big events at the track.

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