2024 Eclipse frenzy: Last minute hacks to see the spectacle without spending a fortune

If you're looking to make last-minute plans to experience the total solar eclipse, you'll find many hotels and restaurants in the path of totality are already booked up or charging astronomical prices.   

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So we went looking for what's still available that won't blow up your wallet like space junk.

The eclipse is expected to last a little under four minutes.  But four million people are expected to travel and make a whole weekend of it.

"We’re going to go to ... let’s try Wimberly," said Doug Shupe of AAA Texas.

We asked travel experts at AAA Texas to hit the path of totality to find accommodations still available for the total solar eclipse weekend.  In Texas, the path of totality includes the areas of Texas Hill Country, San Antonio and Dallas.

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"It looks like it’s going to be a little tough to find accommodations this close to the solar eclipse. A lot of people have had this on their calendar for years," said Shupe.

Hotels are booking up and rates are hitting the stratosphere.  The website for a Days Inn in Fredericksburg, TX says it's charging $1400 for the night before the eclipse.  

With some prices out of this world, Shupe plotted a route using AAA's TripTik, a free online road trip planning tool, which you don't have to be an AAA member to use.

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"It can identify campgrounds along the way, restaurants along the way, hotels along the way," explained Shupe.

He called several RV and camp sites.

"You’re completely filled up?" we heard him say to one clerk on the phone.

Same answer at others.  But when he called one located just outside the path of totality, he hit pay dirt.

"You do have availaibilty? Ok, great!  And how far are you from Wimberly?" he asked.  "Oh, a 30-minute drive, that’s not bad."

He said that's a suggestion.  Look for accommodations within a couple of hours of the path, then drive into the path the morning of the eclipse.

Another idea is to stay with friends or family in the area.  

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But wherever you go, make sure your car is road-trip ready and expect heavy traffic the Saturday before the eclipse, and right after it's over.

"There’s going to be a lot of traffic. So we want to remind people to have their vehicle in good working order. Check your tires, the tread and inflation, make sure your fluid levels are topped off, make sure your battery has a good charge because you’re going to be sitting in a lot of traffic the closer you get to that path of totality," he suggested.  

When it's over, he said drivers should treat it like a crowded sporting event.  

"Bring some lawn chairs, bring some snacks and refreshments, and plan to sit there and wait a couple of hours for that traffic to thin out before you start hitting the road," Shupe suggested.

We checked the Airbnb site and found some rentals available for the eclipse weekend in Hill Country from $100 to $475 a night, and Hotels.com had rooms running from $100 to $500.

You can make reservations for free eclipse viewings in Texas State Parks.  Most are booked up, but we found some openings, including at Old Tunnel and Lyndon B. Johnson State Parks.


Or simply stay home in Houston and head to eclipse events being held at these locations:

Space Center Houston
Houston Museum of Natural Science 
Children's Museum Houston 
Houston Zoo 
Cornelius Nursery locations
The Memorial Park Conservancy 
Houston Public Library 
Other local public libraries

And if you miss this total solar eclipse, don’t worry.  You only have to wait 20 years for the next one.