Black Hole Sun

Dreaming of solo travel? The April 8th eclipse is your sign to go. Follow one traveler's journey to see this spectacular celestial show, from choosing the destination to witnessing totality.

Black Hole Sun
Photo by Jongsun Lee / Unsplash

The upcoming total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024, will be an exciting event happening across a large part of North America. The center of the continent will witness a total eclipse, while the coasts will experience a partial one. The eclipse will extend to Western Europe as well. According to timeanddate.com, around 652 million people, which is roughly 8% of the world's population, will have the opportunity to witness this phenomenon. Total eclipses like this are rare, with the last one occurring in 2017. With such a vast area being able to see the eclipse, there are plenty of options to make the most of this incredible event. This could be the perfect opportunity to embark on that solo trip I have been telling you to take since you started reading this! You could finally explore that city or National Park you've always wanted to visit, attend a festival you've been dreaming of, or even go to that ballpark you've always wanted to see. While there's no guarantee of clear skies for viewing the eclipse, why not use it as a reason to go on that solo adventure?


Take Me To The Eclipse

Alright, so you've made up your mind to embark on a solo adventure along the path of the eclipse, but now you're faced with the task of choosing the perfect spot. With numerous cities and locales to consider, it's easy to feel a bit overwhelmed. Luckily, Jason Barnette from The Road Trips and Coffee blog has crafted an incredible guide to help you out. He's simplified the process of selecting a location by narrowing it down to a set of criteria:

Here’s what I recommend you consider when choosing a viewing location:
Travel destination. Does the place you want to visit have things to do, like local shopping, outdoor recreation, and great places to eat? You’ll likely find things to do if the destination has a tourism office.
Historical cloudiness and weather. AccuWeather says places in southwest Texas have the smallest chance of clouds in early April. The further north along the Path of Totality, the greater the chance of clouds. Places northeast of Illinois have the highest chance of clouds.
Duration of Totality. The duration is longest along the Centerline in Texas. However, it’s only a minute shorter – and almost 3.5 minutes long – along the Centerline in Maine.
Travel logistics. Fortunately, it’s remarkably easy to travel to almost any place in the Path of Totality.
So, what does all this mean? The best-case scenario is to choose a viewing location in Texas, Arkansas, or Missouri along the centerline of the eclipse. Texas will undoubtedly have the best early spring weather to enjoy.

Location, location, location! The article also points out that you might get lucky (and it could be much cheaper) by heading to the more northern regions, but the weather in early April can be unpredictable in those areas, ranging from warm to quite cold. Your choice of destination should also depend on your interests - are you planning to explore National Parks, visit museums, or catch some baseball games? When it comes to Texas, Arkansas, and Missouri, I partially agree. Early April is a wonderful time to visit the southern United States, as the weather is usually delightful. However, this region is located on the western side of "Tornado Alley", so there's always a chance of severe thunderstorms, hail, and tornadoes. Just stay alert and keep an eye on the weather, and you should be fine.

Fly Me Into The Eclipse

Two airlines are offering you a chance to fly to see the eclipse….from 30,000 feet! How cool is that?!!! Delta has five flights going that day that will pass the Path of Totality, and Southwest Airlines has at least 3 flights. According to NBC Los Angeles, the flights are as follows:

According to Delta.com, all seats in every cabin class appeared to be sold out of Monday afternoon. However, five other Delta flights that day that will offer what the airline is calling "prime eclipse-viewing opportunities."
Here's where those ones will be flying and when:
DL 5699, DTW-HPN, 2:59 pm EST departure, ERJ-175
DL 924, LAX-DFW, 8:40 am PST departure, A320
DL 2869, LAX-SAT, 9:00 am PST departure, A319
DL 1001, SLC-SAT, 10:08 am MST departure, A220-300
DL 1683, SLC-AUS, 9:55 am MST departure, A320
On those flights, Delta said, passengers will need protective viewing glasses.
According to Delta, flights are subject to "change due to factors outside of Delta’s control," such as weather and air traffic control.

Also, according to that same article, Southwest is offering at least 3 flights:

Southwest is also celebrating the total solar eclipse with flights in the direct and partial paths of the celestial event. The following scheduled flights listed below have the greatest likelihood of offering Southwest customers the best view of this moment:
Southwest Flight #1252: departs Dallas (Love Field) at 12:45 p.m. CDT for Pittsburgh
Southwest Flight #1721: departs Austin at 12:50 p.m. CDT for Indianapolis
Southwest Flight #1910: departs St. Louis at 1:20 p.m. CDT for Houston (Hobby)
These Southwest flights may also cross the path of totality:
Southwest Flight #955 departs Dallas (Love Field) at 12:50 p.m. CDT for Chicago (Midway)
Southwest Flight #506: departs Milwaukee at 1:05 p.m. CDT for Dallas (Love Field)
Southwest Flight #1734: departs Houston (Hobby) at 1:35 p.m. CDT for Indianapolis
Southwest Flight #1682: departs Chicago (Midway) at 1:30 p.m. CDT for Austin
Southwest flight #3108: departs Nashville at 1:40 p.m. CDT for Dallas (Love Field)
Yuliya Hatouka 🦄 ️🦄 | Page 33 | Tennis Forum

Keep in mind, these flights will be incredibly popular, and will more than likely sell out. However, not all is lost! If you’re willing to spend the money, and if a seat opens up, snap it up! It sounds like an amazing chance to see the eclipse from a vantage point that most won't get to experience.

Blame It On The Rain

While I recommend using the upcoming total solar eclipse as a means to solo travel, it should not be THE reason. The weather plays a significant role in this eclipse, and you won't be able to predict it until a day or two before. The best way to plan is by checking the historical weather data. You can use Accuweather, weather.com, or any other weather resource that provides historical information. And as we mentioned previously, Texas and Mexico are probably the top choices for viewing this eclipse. Jamie Carter in Forbes spoke with cloud scientists to see where was the best place to view the eclipse per the data:

For now, all we have is climatology based on long-term trends—but new 2024 eclipse cloud cover maps have just been published.
New cloud climatology image data from climate researchers at the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies reveals the probability of clear skies across North America. Based on data from the GOES weather satellites, it also now covers Atlantic Canada. It’s generated solely from GOES observations over a few hours every April 8 from 1995-2023 and averaged.

These are simply predictions based on historical data, the article goes on with the following tips:

There’s a tried and tested saying among eclipse-chasers: “Climate is what you expect; weather is what you get.” There’s a disclaimer to that end accompanying these new cloud maps. “This is not a real forecast, and past clear or cloudy skies do not guarantee anything for April 8, 2024,” reads the CIMSS website. It has this advice for anyone searching for clear skies on April 8:
Start checking local weather forecasts on April 6, which will then begin to be accurate.
Remember that the “eclipse cooling” effect of the sun being blocked by the moon can itself cause the number of certain types of clouds.
Follow local meteorologists along the path on TV—they will be paying attention to cloud cover, where good open places to view it will be, and what local plans are.

The best way to proceed with traveling for the eclipse, is using the eclipse as a “treat” or “reward”, or that it’s “meant to be”. This map below shows much of the United States is in the path of this eclipse. The great part about this eclipse is, even if you’re not near the Path of Totality, you’re still going to see at least 70% of it from the Rockies and the upper midwest of the United States eastward. This is a great opportunity to get that first solo trip under your belt, and perhaps, have an opportunity to see something incredibly historic. You never know when you ever get this chance again.

Final Thoughts

The total solar eclipse happening on April 8th is a rare event that doesn't come around often. I recall the 2017 total solar eclipse in the Pacific Northwest. I was in Seattle and Portland for a wedding just a week before the eclipse. As we were heading to the airport, there was already buzz about the influx of travelers heading to Oregon to witness the eclipse. I remember watching the TV coverage and feeling a sense of togetherness as we all experienced this event. Whether you'll be able to see the upcoming eclipse depends on your location and travel plans - you might catch the whole thing, most of it, or none at all due to weather conditions. If you're thinking of embarking on your first solo trip for the eclipse, consider exploring a National Park or a city you've always wanted to visit. Just mark your calendar for Monday, April 8th for the eclipse. And don't forget to grab some NASA-approved solar eclipse glasses before you go!