The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
ATLANTA — It might still be nine months away, but you should start planning now if you want to see next year’s eclipse in the path of totality. That 115-mile path will be your last chance for decades to experience a total solar eclipse in the contiguous United States.
On April 8, the path of totality will start in northern Mexico, cross 13 U.S. states and finish in eastern Canada. Anyone within 200 miles of the path will likely experience the total eclipse. Outside that distance, and you’re stuck with a partial solar eclipse.
That’s why you need to start planning now. During the 2017 total solar eclipse, hotels and campsites were booked months in advance, with traffic snarling the roads leading to areas with the least amount of light pollution.
The first thing you’ll want to do is request time off from work, considering some of the closest cities in the path are about seven hours from Atlanta. The eclipse will be on a Monday, so you can drive there over the weekend. But getting home afterwards will require taking a day off from work.
Next, consider the weather when choosing your spot. April in Texas will be quite different from April in New Hampshire or Maine.
“The city I sort of identified as the most likely to have good skies [in the United States] is a place called Junction, Texas, which is a little bit toward the edge of the eclipse track in the Texas Hill Country,” Jay Anderson, a retired meteorologist with Canada’s weather service and an amateur astronomer who created the website Eclipsophile.com, told CNN Travel. “But they statistically are in one of the areas most likely to have clear skies, but having said that, it still means that they only have about a 55% chance of clear skies on that day. So, you know, it’s no guarantee anywhere.”
Anderson said your best bet might just be Mexico, so why not make a vacation of it?
Now that you’ve decided where to go, it’s time to make reservations. Like, now.
“Rooms are still available along the path of totality but are going fast. The longer people wait, the harder it will be to find accommodations inside the eclipse path. And the higher the rates will be as the hotels and property owners get wise to what’s happening,” Dave Clark, who runs the website NationalEclipse.com, told CNN Travel.
If you can’t find a hotel room, consider a campground (if you’re driving your RV), Airbnb or Vrbo. Waco, Texas, is holding Eclipse Over Texas 2024: Live from Waco festival on the banks of the Brazos River.
How are you going to get there? Driving is probably easiest, depending on where you’re headed and how much time you have. You might also want to consider taking a train, so you can see the country and relax on your way.
Those headed to farther destinations will likely fly, however. If so, wait until January or February to book your flights. The best time, on average, to buy your tickets for a domestic trip is 76 days before departure, according to a 2022 study by CheapAir.com.
No matter where you’re headed, don’t forget to bring your eclipse glasses to protect your eyes.
Eclipse2017.org offers a variety of eclipse glasses sold in bulk (packs of three to 200) with net prices ranging between $1.14 to $3.10.
You can also purchase eclipse glasses at a variety of stores or sites, including at the official manufacturer’s website or at Amazon.com.
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