Last Minute Great Eclipse Travel Tips

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The Great American Eclipse is in just five days, so that means that this is really your last call to decide you if you want to be a part of it, and it also means that the weather forecasts are coming into clearer view. There aren’t many events where weather plays quite as dominate of a player as this since storms or even signifiant clouds, fog, or haze, or smoke can block your view of what truly sounds like a really cool phenomenon when you understand everything that happens during a total eclipse.

My oldest daughter and parents are traveling north to the 70 mile wide path of totality this weekend, and so far everything is on track for their adventure. They have their hotel, flights, and car rental all reserved on points. Their hotel is pretty much on the line of totality, so they don’t have to travel a ton to see the eclipse unless weather throws a wrench in their plans, in which case I’m sure they will be hitting the highways in the pre-dawn hours to find a better viewing spot. Depending on where you are viewing the eclipse, traffic could be pretty intense on the day of the event.

If you are still hoping to book a flight to see the eclipse, or are now thinking about an alternate viewing spot if your original plans are clouding up, then here are some examples where I found saver awards to cities near the eclipse path available today using United miles:

  • San Francisco – Nashville (Saturday)
  • Houston – Kansas City (Saturday)
  • Newark – Portland (Saturday in first class)
  • Houston – Jackson Hole (Thursday)
  • Denver – Eugene Oregon (Friday)
  • Chicago – Charleston (Saturday in first class)

Courtesy of the Great American Eclipse website

Of course you will have many more options if you are willing to pay standard or higher award rates, and frankly coming home within a day or so of the eclipse will probably require a standard award, if you can even find that. You may want to not rush right back to the airport on Tuesday if you are hoping to use miles at this juncture to see the eclipse.

Jackson Hole would offer prime eclipse viewing

Just like when I helped my parents book their trip a couple months ago, the middle of the country still seems to be your best bet in terms of remaining deals, flights, and hotel rooms. The weather forecast for the middle of the country for Monday as it stands today is okay-ish, depending on your exact location, but there is no doubt there are more travel opportunities using miles and points in places like Kansas and Missouri than in the Pacific Northwest or on the East Coast close to Charleston, South Carolina.

The Pacific Northwest will be slammed with people because the weather there is historically more favorable this time of the year for clear viewing, and it is frankly just an awesome destination. The Southeast is slammed because it is simply the closest available destination for so many people. However, the middle of the country offers far more opportunities to get close to the line without paying through the nose or having to just sleep in your car…assuming you can even get a rental car at this point, which absolutely should not just be assumed. If you hit a wall looking for hotels, consider just bringing along a tent as campsites under $100 are still available.

Now that we are just days away from the big event I would love to hear where you are going, how you are getting there, and whether weather is playing a hand in your plans.


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  1. We’re driving down from Des Moines to Kansas City for the weekend. We’ll spend Fri and Sat nights at the Sheraton Crown Center and then on Sun night, half of our group will be at the Kansas City Airport Marriott and the other half will be at the Four Points nearby. Staying out by the airport that night lets us wake up in the totality zone and not have to worry about traffic (surprisingly, we’ll have 1min58sec of totality at those locations vs possibly none in downtown KC) It sounds like these may be some of the same properties your parents + Little C will be staying at. If there’s any spare time, the Sheraton Crown Center is right next to Science City, which looks awesome for kids – we’re going there for at least 1 of our days 🙂

    Right now we’re just planning on taking some folding chairs and watching from the grounds of the Marriott (Google satellite/street views show lots of expansive grassy areas). I feel like there should be a better plan than that, but eh, hopefully that’ll work out well!

  2. Fortunately, I’m going to be able to travel the 8 seconds to my intermountain back yard observation post by foot. We’ll get nearly 2 minutes of totality – not sure that I’d ever brave the traveling crowds for that, but it’s nice when it comes right to the house. Several family members and friends, OTOH, will have a long drives back to the closest hub airport on Monday afternoon (there haven’t been seats available on that day for local departing flights for months). Expect the 200 miles will take a lot longer than the usual 2.5 hours…

  3. I’m traveling to Jackson Hole, WY. Staying at the Hampton Inn in Jackson, booked with points. Watching the eclipse at the airport, and after totality ends around 11:37am local time, head to the security line to catch my 12:45pm flight home. Right now, weather forecast for Jackson Hole is partly cloudy. In addition to the eclipse, I plan to spend time enjoying the mountains and scenery.

  4. I was able to use my yearly IHG Free Night cert for the Holiday Inn in Casper, WY. Talk about luck…crappy motels were going for $1500 a night. All I needed was one night as well, as I’m driving from Denver 😀

  5. I only live about 15 miles from totality path in the Augusta, GA area so I won’t have far to go. The weather forecast is hit or miss right now so we may be out of luck. I may travel to Greenville, SC to my parent’s house if their forecast is better. Interestingly, there are still rooms available in Augusta for reasonable prices.

  6. Just checked into the 4 Points at KC airport and thought I saw the famous Grandpa Points. Is he in KC to watch the eclipse?

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