If you want to see this month’s total solar eclipse, hopefully you’ve already made your travel plans because flight costs and hotel searches are skyrocketing right now. The special astronomical event is expected to draw millions to the US states located in what’s called the path of totality, where you'll be able to see the Moon completely cover the Sun for just a few minutes.
Seven major cities are seeing a boom in flight bookings, according to Hipmunk, an online travel company. 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 August weekend in 2016.
But St. Louis plane tickets are cheaper
As a result, flight prices have gone up considerably. For example, a flight to Nashville for the eclipse weekend averages out to $708, up from this month’s overall average of $403, according to Hipmunk. The flight price from Los Angeles International Airport to Portland has experienced a near 100 percent increase from 2016 to 2017, according to Expedia’s data. Curiously, a flight from Chicago to St. Louis has actually dropped in price by over 25 percent from 2016 to 2017. It’s unclear why flights from Chicago to St. Louis appear to be cheaper, says Alexis Tiacoh, a PR specialist at Expedia. “We're dealing with a really short timeframe — three days — and we're not seeing a ton of volume on those days for that particular route,” she says.
Likewise, the search for hotels in these areas has gone up. Hotel searches in the town of Lincoln City, Oregon are up 467 percent compared to last year, according to Kayak’s search result data. Charleston, South Carolina, got a 279 percent boost in hotel searches, too. (Hotel rooms and camp sites are already sold out in several towns, and some colleges are even renting out football fields and dorms.)
If you’re not in the path of totality and are too late making travel plans, you can always stay put. This graphic by Vox shows you what the eclipse will look like where you are. You’ll only see a partial eclipse, but at least you’ll avoid the traveling madness.
Additional reporting by Micah Singleton