There are only so many times you can say you witnessed a "once in a lifetime" phenomenon, and as people across the U.S prepare to do just that for Monday's eclipse, there’s bound to be some setbacks. With that in mind, millions of "eclipse chasers," are expected to travel to watch as the sun disappears behind the moon. Hence, eclipse tourism has been born.
Which is cool, but it also means travel, especially in and around the dozens of cities and 14 states that fall within the “Path of Totality" (the specific path you can see the total eclipse in all its glory) will be affected.
According to flight aggregator website Hipmunk.com, bookings to Nashville, Tennessee; Portland, Oregon; Omaha, Nebraska; Knoxville, Tennessee; Kansas City, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; and Columbia, South Carolina, are up 418 percent compared to the same weekend in August last year.
Now, I’m going throw some math at you to help quantify what we’re talking about. There are roughly 12 million people who already live within the eclipses totality path, according to the website Space.com. Another 200 million people (nearly two-thirds of the total U.S population) live within one day's drive (within 500 miles from this path). Add to that, somewhere between 1.85 million to 7.4 million people who are planning on traveling to see the eclipse according to the website GreatAmericanEclipse.com.
It doesn’t help that the end of August also happens to be the time that many Americans are already traveling on holiday, a perfect storm scenario which will likely result in a heavier traffic flow, overbooked flights and over-priced hotel rooms all of which could make travel difficult. Not to cast a shadow over what will invariably be a cool event, but for those who’d like to stay in the know, here are just a few of the ways you can expect your travel schedule to be affected over the solar eclipse.
1. Traffic Jams
Traffic is inevitable in most urban cities, however don’t be surprised by an influx of traffic that’s expected to be particularly high in cities and small towns where the eclipse will be in full view. While certain states like Missouri and Oregon are planning on suspending construction projects on Monday, big crowds and heavy traffic are to be expected. Check out this super awesome eclipse map to see what the traffic patterns will look like in real time on Monday.
2. Inflated Hotel & Airbnb Rates
For many travelers, Monday will be business as usual — however if you happen to be traveling to one the 14 states that fall within the path of totality, you should expect to pay more for your hotel accommodations. One of the summer’s hottest destinations, Nashville, is a prime example of hotels increase due to eclipse tourism. According to the website Booking.com, inflated prices for hotel rooms in the country are double and in some cases triple compared to what they were last year.
3. Canceling Room Reservations
This one is downright obnoxious, but according to reports coming out of Oregon, some hotels have resorted to canceling previously existing reservations only to up-sell the room and a higher rate. Which is not only super lame it’s also pretty illegal under the Unlawful Trade Practices Act.
4. Flight Prices Have Skyrocketed
If you’re looking to book a last-minute airfare on Monday, you can expect to see higher prices because of the eclipse, according to Hipmunk.com. According to the site, flights to cities directly in the eclipse’s path are much more expensive than usual, nearly doubling and in certain cities tripling in cities like Nashville and Charleston.
5. Camp Site Prices Are Soaring
This is kind of an unexpected one, but according to Mashable.com, many state parks in Oregon are not only totally booked up have even resorted to auctioning off additional camp sites to the rune of $60,000 — more than $300 per person if every campsite has six people. A pretty remarkable figure when you consider a regular campsite any other time of the year is $20 a night.
This one sort of goes hand in hand with traffic, however accidents are one of the major source of the problem associated with any event like a solar eclipse. The fear is that drivers will be easily distracted by the sight of the sun going behind the moon and will then lose sight of the road. The Department of Transportation is urging drivers to remain aware of their surroundings at all times to avoid any potential issues.
7. Bad Cell Signals
With so many people who will be photographing, texting and calling during Monday's eclipse, cellular carriers including AT&T, Verizon, Spring & T Mobile will be increasing coverage during peak eclipse times, according to a report by CNBC. But don't be surprised if your bandwith is limited and plan accordingly.