until the total solar eclipse.

How to Find Affordable and Available Lodging for the Total Solar Eclipse 2024

Read this guide on different types of lodging and how to find something for the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse.

By Jason Barnette | Travel writer and photographer with 15+ years of road tripping experience

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my Affiliate Disclosure here.

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If you think of the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse like the Super Bowl, you’ll understand the shocking price and lack of lodging availability. Avid eclipse chasers booked rooms a year or more in advance. Others started booking rooms when articles called attention to the event throughout 2023.

As the New York Times noted, the result was a sharp rise in the nightly rates at hotels, resorts, and short-term rentals. Hotels from Indianapolis to New York raised their rates by 200-500%. Thankfully, campground rates remained relatively low at less than $40 – but expect these to rise, too.

The ideal situation is to book lodging within walking or public transportation distance to your viewing location. Then, on Eclipse Day, you don’t need to drive – and you can avoid the inevitable traffic congestion that will clog American highways from Texas to Maine for hours on Monday afternoon.

But, if you can’t afford or find a booking in the ideal situation, you might be left with the second best thing. And that’s what this guide is about – finding affordable and available lodging in places you may not have considered before.

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Tips for Booking Lodging

You may want to look at these tips before booking lodging for the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse. It’s not like booking a typical vacation. It’s more like trying to find a great place to stay during the Superbowl. Expect the unexpected and be prepared to either pay a lot or spend a lot of time traveling.

Here are some tips to help you find an affordable and available place to stay:

  • Book a room early, but keep looking. Many eclipse chasers are booking rooms in primary and secondary viewing locations. They will continue checking weather forecasts until about 3 or 4 days before the event and then cancel one booking before the full refund deadline. That means you might find an influx of sudden availability within a few days of the eclipse.
  • You get what you pay for – don’t book the cheapest rate. It’s an old saying warning people to avoid investing in the cheapest option. Typically, there’s a reason why it’s the cheapest option.
  • Book lodging within walking distance of the viewing location. Of course, this is the ideal situation that will likely cost significantly more per night. But the perk also means you’ll have more time to relax and explore instead of dealing with Eclipse Day traffic congestion.
  • Leave early if you must travel to your viewing location. If you book lodging that requires driving to your viewing location, plan to leave early – at least 2 hours before the beginning of the partial eclipse.
  • Double-check the confirmation email – and then call to triple-check. Reservations getting lost in the digital shuffle of thousands of bookers is not a unique story. After completing your booking, check for the confirmation email. Then, call the lodging to confirm they also received the confirmation on their end.

Roadside Motels

Roadside motels became popular in the 1960s and 70s during the peak of the Great American Road Trip. When Jim Trueman founded Red Roof Inn in 1973, he envisioned creating a chain of budget motels for people who only wanted a good night’s rest with fewer amenities on the property.

But throughout the 90s and into the early 2000s, motels earned a bad reputation as undesirable places to stay with awful bedding and even worse customer service.

Red Roof rolled out a $90 million redesign dubbed NextGen in 2011 to combat this. After soliciting input from guests, the motel chain updated their guest rooms with laminated wood floors, three times more outlets for charging devices, and new bedding.

Although many motel chains have been redesigned and updated in recent decades, others have not. Not all roadside motels offer a safe and comfortable night. So, as with booking any lodging, read the recent reviews and look at recent photos.

Some of the better motel chains include Baymont Inn & Suites, Best Western, Red Roof Inn, and Sleep Inn.


  • Typically, it is less expensive than its hotel counterparts
  • Easier to check in and check out


  • Few amenities
  • Less secure than hotels
  • Tends to be more unpredictable in terms of quality and customer service


Airport Hotels

With the number of people expected to travel to see the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse and the shortage of available lodging, it might be time to start thinking like a business traveler. One of the best places for business travelers to find affordable lodging is clustered around international and national airports.

For example, Indianapolis International Airport is one of the best places to fly into the Path of Totality. A cluster of hotels at the airport’s eastern edge along I-70 and Sam Jones Expressway offer plenty of places to stay. The options range from Red Roof Inn to Hyatt Place, offering every kind of amenity and price range.

When searching Booking, Expedia, or for hotels, search for the airport’s name instead of a city. This will center the results around the airport so you can quickly pick the best option.


  • Likely to be more available during the eclipse
  • A large range of options, from motels to luxury hotels
  • Easier for air travelers


  • Likely means driving to the viewing location of the eclipse
  • Traffic congestion on Eclipse Day is very likely
  • It is not an ideal place to stay while exploring the area



Have you ever considered booking a bunk or private room at a hostel? Hostels are rarely anything like what is depicted in the movies – unsafe and dirty bastions of all-night partying and promiscuous affairs. In the past decade, a new breed of hostels has opened across America in unique buildings, offering better amenities than some hotels and private rooms to compete for privacy and security.


Community is the heart of the hostel experience. Shared spaces like the kitchen, office, and living are places where fellow travelers can mingle and share adventure stories. Shared restrooms offer private showers and dressing rooms. And many hostels have moved away from bunk beds to pods – twin beds surrounded by three walls with a drawcurtain for complete privacy.

Some hostels even offer private rooms now. The rooms range from a minimalist double bedroom to a luxurious king room, rivaling some resort hotels. The private rooms typically include a bathroom, but guests sometimes must use the shared bathrooms. Private rooms give guests who prefer their solitude a place to comfortably spend the night and forgo the undesirable social mingling.

Prices at hostels have increased in the past decade, along with greater amenities and better quality, but only slightly. According to Hostelworld, average prices in the U.S. range from $35 in Los Angeles to $88 in Chicago. This means hostels are still significantly less expensive than hotels.

Hostels are rare in America. But there are a few in the Path of Totality for the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse. Consider booking a hostel for the event in Texas, Arkansas, Indiana, New York, or New Hampshire.


  • More affordable than any other type of lodging
  • Special amenities like a fully equipped kitchen


  • Less availability because of fewer locations
  • Some may not like the social aspects of hosteling


Short Term Rentals

Short-term rentals are fully furnished houses, condos, or cabins rented for short periods. The upside is that short-term rentals have fully equipped kitchens for preparing your own meals and freeing up room in your travel budget for other things. This is also a great option if you plan to stay longer and explore the destination you visit for the eclipse.

The greatest advantage of short-term rentals is the option to travel with friends and family. Booking a 3-5 bedroom house significantly reduces the per-person cost. Vacation rental homes with bunk beds and sleeper sofas allow large groups to rent a single unit and spread the fees among the families.

But the downsides of short-term rentals are plentiful, especially if you’re not used to using them while traveling. Typically, short-term rentals require a minimum stay ranging from a few nights to a week. Week rentals typically start on either Saturday or Sunday. This means you could be locked into staying longer than you wanted.


Another downside is the dreaded cleaning fee. Hotels and motels incorporate the cleaning fee into the nightly rate. Short-term rentals, however, tack the fee onto the final bill along with resort processing fees. Cleaning fees are accessed weekly and can range from $50 – $200, depending on the size of the unit you rent.

From a money perspective, short-term rentals are better on a per-night average for a weekly stay than something shorter, like the weekend before the eclipse. But, if you treat the eclipse as an excuse for an early spring vacation, it might work out better to book something for the entire week.

While short-term rentals managed by realty companies and Vrbo are likely to have increased rates, Airbnb is the most notorious for outrageous prices. During the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse, Mashable found insane instances of one-bedroom Airbnb rentals for $2,000 per night. Airbnb has no official policy on rate increases, leading many dwelling owners to increase the rates astronomically.

Although my experience with Airbnb is limited, I suggest avoiding this type of short-term rental during the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse.


  • Likely to be more available for larger vacation homes
  • Less expensive per night for large groups
  • More amenities like a fully equipped kitchen


  • More expensive per night for solo or couple travelers
  • More expensive per night for stays less than a week


Campgrounds and RV Resorts

Almost 100 state parks are on the Path of Totality during the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse. When you include RV Resorts managed by Good Sam and Kampgrounds of America, there are almost 200 places to park an RV or rent a cabin for the eclipse.

Campgrounds and RV resorts will be in high demand in Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, where early April will feature mild spring weather. But the further north you travel, especially New York and the New England states, the more likely you’ll find campgrounds closed for the season or very uncomfortable.

Campgrounds are not limited to RVers with fifth wheels or traveler trailers. Many campgrounds feature a limited number of cabins. But pay careful attention to the type of cabin you book. Camping cabins typically feature one or two bedrooms with rubber mattresses, do not include linens, and require guests to use a community bathhouse. Deluxe or luxury cabins typically have bedroom linens and a bathroom but usually do not feature a kitchen.


Kampgrounds of America (KOA) was founded in 1962 and is the world’s largest network of privately owned campgrounds. The vibrant yellow logo with a bright red X is familiar to travelers in most popular destinations. But before you consider booking a KOA, here’s what you need to know about the types of campgrounds you’ll find:

  • KOA Journey Campgrounds are meant to serve as a nightly stop on long journeys. These campgrounds feature mostly pull-through RV sites and premium tent sites. There are no cabins and very few amenities.
  • KOA Holiday Campgrounds are the most common type in the network. These campgrounds are meant to serve as basecamps for travel adventures with RV sites, premium tent sites, camping cabins, and deluxe cabins. Typically, amenities include a swimming pool, playground, laundry, and meeting facilities.
  • KOA Resort Campgrounds are the pinnacle of the network that turns the campground into the destination. These campgrounds feature resort-quality indoor and outdoor swimming pools, on-site restaurants, RV sites, premium tent sites, and deluxe cabins.

KOA compiled a list of campgrounds in or near the Path of Totality for the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse.

The Good Sam Club is the world’s largest organization of RV owners. Founded in 1966, the organization offers club discounts, roadside assistance, and insurance for RVers. Over 2,000 campgrounds are affiliated with the club, offering members a discount on their nightly rate.

Other privately owned campgrounds are a good option for the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse, but like Airbnb short-term rentals, these campgrounds might include wildly inflated nightly rates, though they’re not guaranteed. Hipcamp, a website for discovering unique outdoor places to stay, compiled a list of interesting places to stay in the Path of Totality.

Temporary campgrounds are additional options during the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse but are not recommended. During the 2017 eclipse, wineries, farms, and event venues hastily built temporary campgrounds with portable toilets, no electricity, and no running water. These sites typically went for an outrageous $100 per night.


  • Campground cabins may have greater availability
  • Rates are likely to be significantly less than hotels or short-term rentals
  • Campgrounds in the Path of Totality can double as the viewing location


  • Some campgrounds will have very few amenities
  • Requires a certain type of traveler to thoroughly enjoy
  • Often located in remote areas, making it difficult to explore a destination


Outside the Path of Totality

Booking lodging outside the Path of Totality will be easier, more affordable, and more available. However, booking lodging outside the Path of Totality has a big caveat: you must drive to your viewing location on Eclipse Day.

I celebrated my birthday three days before the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse with my first visit to Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. The day before the eclipse, I road-tripped from Bowling Green to just outside Knoxville, Tennessee.

The city was just outside the Path of Totality. Despite its proximity to Great Smoky Mountains National Park – which was in the Path of Totality – the rates outside the city for the night before were quite reasonable.


On Eclipse Day – August 21, 2017 – I drove through Maryville and Townsend to Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If you want to read about my full adventure on that amazing day, I invite you to make a coffee and sit back for an entertaining read. But the short version was that after two hours of driving and two hours of waiting for the entrance gate to open, I found my viewing location in a field with only a dozen other viewers nearby.

After the eclipse, it was an entirely different story. It was like the end of the Super Bowl – or halftime at a Panthers game in 2023. Suddenly, every traveler was on the road impatiently trying to get home.

It took me five hours to drive, which typically takes one. The constant stop-and-go traffic exhausted me when I reached the interstate. Instead of making it to my target destination that night, I found an interstate hotel for the night.

Places just outside the Path of Totality for the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse include Shreveport, Memphis, St. Louis, Louisville, Cincinnati, Columbus, Detroit, and Toronto. And there are hundreds of other cities and towns with many hotels, short-term rentals, and campgrounds where you could stay less than an hour from the Path of Totality.

But before you book lodging out of the Path of Totality, read these guidelines so you know what you’re getting into on Eclipse Day:

  • Estimate the driving time. Use Google Maps to calculate the driving time from where you want to stay outside the Path of Totality to your viewing location. Then, triple that time to understand how long you’ll spend driving – each way – on Eclipse Day.
  • Be prepared to leave your lodging early. On Eclipse Day, I recommend arriving at your viewing location about two hours before the partial eclipse begins. If you have a lengthy drive from your lodging, you might end up leaving before sunrise.
  • Be prepared to return to your lodging late. The traffic congestion after the eclipse will be significantly worse than before. So, however long it takes to get there, returning to your lodging will take much longer.
  • Don’t book a room for the night after the eclipse. Although I recommend spending the night after the eclipse off the road to avoid the traffic congestion, if you’re already traveling because you booked lodging outside the Path of Totality, it’s better if you don’t have to return to that lodging later.


  • Places outside the Path of Totality are likely to have affordable and available lodging


  • Driving in and out of a viewing location on Eclipse Day can take many hours

Resources for Booking Lodging

During a recent trip to North Myrtle Beach – where I discovered an unlikely foodie destination – I chatted with Brandon Cox, the Vice President of Operations at Elliot Beach Rentals. He stressed the importance of going directly to the realty company when booking lodging and skipping the “booking agent” like Booking or Expedia.

One reason is that booking agents charge their own processing fee, increasing your nightly rate. Another reason is that sometimes glitches happen, and reservations are lost between the booking agent and the local realty company managing the property – though Cox admitted this was rare. But the biggest reason to book through the realty company is because it keeps the money in the local economy, a hallmark of the “Shop Local” movement during the holidays.

Here are some resources for booking lodging and a few other ways to find great local lodging.

Local Realty Companies

Search for “vacation rentals” in the destination you plan to see the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse. You can also visit my Travel Guide to the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse, navigate to the state you want to visit and find the tourism information for your destination. These pages usually have local realty companies with vacation rentals listed.

Google Maps

Did you know that Google Maps includes a competitive listing of booking options for hotels, resorts, bed and breakfasts, and campgrounds? After searching for lodging, click or tap to view the details, and then scroll down to see a list of available booking options with nightly rates. Change your travel dates to see an updated price list. This is a great tool for quickly finding affordable lodging. is an online booking agent based in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Visitors can book lodging, flights, and car rentals through their website or app. The powerful search feature is easy to use, and search results can be filtered using several options.



Expedia is a booking agent that was launched by Microsoft in 1996. The company is owned by the Expedia Group, a tech company that’s gobbled up competitors like, Vrbo, Travelocity, and Trivago. Expedia allows visitors to book lodging, flights, and rental cars.


Airbnb has a love-it-or-hate-it relationship with the travel world. The San Francisco-based company was founded in 2008 to allow homeowners to list rooms or properties for rent without involving a real estate company. Airbnb has inspired a generation of spectacular, unique lodging to hit the market, but it’s also fostered a reputation for scams and dismal quality.


Vrbo – pronounced VER-boh – stands for Vacation Rentals by Owners. When the company launched in 1995, it offered an online marketplace for vacation homeowners to list their properties for rent without going through a real estate company. Purchased by Expedia when the tech company bought HomeAway in 2015, Vrbo is the single largest source of vacation home rentals online.


Hostelworld was founded in 1999 by software developer Ray Nolan. After designing an online booking system, Nolan offered it free to any hostel in exchange for a flat 10% commission. After merging and buying several competitors, Hostelworld is now the largest online booking agent for hostels around the world.


ReserveAmerica is a great resource for booking nationwide campsites – their website and app lists nearly 290,000 campsites. The company was founded in 1984 and was the exclusive booking agent for the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service for many years. Today, it’s a great resource for finding public and private campsites.

After the 10-year contract with ReserveAmerica ended, was established to exclusively handle booking for 14 government agencies, including the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It’s a great resource for finding public campsites and could be invaluable for finding available lodging during the eclipse event.

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Do you have a question about travel or road trips? Are you a CVB or DMO interested in working with me? I typically respond to emails within 24 hours. Quicker if you include a good riddle.
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