For 2017's eclipse, there were rumors and facts about hotels canceling and then re-registering at much higher rates. I think now is an important time to start this thread.
According to a lot of the online hotel and rental (vrbo, airb&b, expedia, etc) sites every hotel and just about every under $300 a night rental / cabin in the large and small towns show booked (Johnson City and East to Fredericksburg, Blanco, Kerville, Boerne, Comfort, Uvalde, Leaky and so forth - basically all of Texas Hill Country). It has been like that for months (hotels since last summer). But, the facebook discussions on the 2024 U.S. Total Solar Eclipse Discussion Group page has people saying that they have recently spoken to the hotels in Kerville and Fredericksburg and the hotels are saying they have not yet opened their reservation books for the April eclipse dates yet. So, which is it, have they booked all of their rooms online through the various travel .com sites or not? If they have, are we looking at mass cancelations and re-bookings at even higher pricing for those booked? How have the international tour groups secured their lodging if they are not booking yet? Curious and antsy minds need to know.
So, if you are already booked in Texas and you are notified that your reservation is canceled, or they are demanding more money per night or they will void your reservation, post that up here.
Hotels in Oregon were pulling that stuff in 2017 until the state's Attorney General stepped in and forcefully straightened them out.
When I started eclipse-chasing in 1979 it was standard practice to be on the centreline 24 hours beforehand, but that was before total eclipses became the mass migrations that they are now. Even if you could trust the hotels and home owners to honour their bookings, the prices on the centreline are way above my means.
I booked a small one bedroom vacation house (one of several such small places all inside the same security wall, all rented by the same woman) in San Antonio a few miles outside of the path for three nights at a total of $327 for the three nights. I booked through Expedia because I feel (hope) that an owner is less likely to play games with Expedia than they are with an individual. And I paid the entire amount in advance rather than just making a reservation, again so that if I have to call Expedia they can come down harder on the owner who will want their listing with Expedia to continue in normal times. After I paid, I checked the prices for a week later and they were the same.
We will drive to the centreline very early on eclipse morning.
In 2017 we spent the night prior in Pendleton, Oregon which was outside the path but which had good access to multiple roads into the path. The clerk at the check-in desk did make some comment about he wasn't sure that he could honour our low reservation price; I mentioned the state's attorney general's comments; the clerk went to speak to management; and our reservation at the normal price was honoured. We were up at 3am studying weather to decide which route into the path to take, and on the road at 4am. Traffic was not heavy enroute to Farewell Bend State Park on the Idaho border, several hours of freeway driving East. I noticed that every freeway rest area within the eclipse path was full of cars, so people must have spent the night there, and probably observed totality from there. As I said, traffic was not heavy enroute to our destination since people had arrived over a couple of days, but we had the mother of all traffic jams going back to Pendleton after totality.
In 2019 in Chile we rented a house for several days at a village two hours north of Santiago. We left at 2 am to drive the seven hours north to the path of totality in very light traffic. We were on the centreline in a large temporary eclipse parking area in the southern part of the Atacama desert with thousands of other people about seven hours before the late afternoon totality. We decided not to drive south that evening because we figured that traffic would be horrendous. Instead, we drove to a town just north of the path where I had months earlier paid for a room for the night just in case we might need it if weather had pushed us north to there. Traffic was slow for the last hour into that town, after we passed the junction with the road up to a professional observatory (La Silla I think it was) where many had paid for a high altitude view of the approaching shadow. The next day we ambled around the desert doing tourist stuff and then headed south, passing the city of La Serena about 6pm. No traffic until 8pm when we ran into a horrendous traffic jam, moving at about walking speed. This was 28 hours after totality! Apparently many Santiago and Valparaiso residents had, like us, decided to wait until the next day to return home, and there is only one north-south freeway in narrow Chile. We got back to our rental house at 4am, and we were well north of Santiago.
So my experience has been that staying outside the path and driving to the centreline very early on eclipse morning works fine. The horrendous traffic jams are after totality. I am well aware that we might not make it back to our San Antonio house that evening with all the eclipse-chasers from San Antonio and Houston all heading back east. No problem -- I have slept in my car many nights over the decades. In March, 1968 when I was a little younger, I slept in my little MGA sportscar most nights enroute from Halifax-Montreal-Chicago-Los Angeles-Vancouver. Seeing totality is the only priority, not personal comfort.
I am 12 out of 12 in chasing central eclipses, 10 totalities and two annulars, because I know that there are only three priorities in eclipse-chasing: mobility, mobility, and mobility. So, if when we are driving from British Columbia to Texas in my Mustang (its first real road trip because of the pandemic even though I bought it in July, 2020) it becomes obvious from the weather forecast charts that we should divert to somewhere else on the path, we will do so and ignore the loss of the prepaid $327 for the place in San Antonio. But If I had paid an exorbitant amount for a place on the centreline in Texas, losing the money paid for Texas accommodation would be tougher.
Just because Texas has the best climatology does not mean that it will have the best weather on eclipse day, something that I have had demonstrated over and over during my decades of successful chasing.
Edited by Alan D. Whitman, 18 March 2023 - 02:01 PM.