Traveling this weekend and worried about Harvey? What you need to know

If you have travel plans for this weekend and are concerned about Hurricane Harvey, here are some things you need to know to navigate the situation.

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Be sure to check your flight status before you arrive at the airport if you’re worried about Hurricane Harvey. credit: Rodolfo Gonzalez

If you still hope to travel:

  • Check your flight status: You can check the list of flights departing out of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport here, or on individual airline websites. If you have connecting flights, be sure to check the status of your connections, too.
  • Arrive early. If your flight is currently scheduled to leave on time, ABIA advises arriving to the airport at least two hours early during the peak times of 5-8 a.m., 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3:30-5:30 p.m.
  • Allow extra time to get to the airport. Highway conditions, weather conditions and traffic will all be impacted by the storm. Find the latest updates from the airport here.

If you want to re-book your trip:

Many airlines are allowing travelers with flights booked this weekend to reschedule at no cost. Here’s a look at what some of the major airlines that service Austin are offering:

Handout photos of the British Airways 787 aircraft, which is being used in the airline’s Austin-to-London direct flight, which began March 3, 2014.Credit: British Airways
Weekend storms may leave some flights grounded. Credit: British Airways
  • American Airlines: You can change your flight free of charge if you’re traveling to, through or from the following cities: Austin, Beaumont, Brownsville, College Station, Corpus Christi, Houston, McAllen, San Antonio and Lake Charles, Louisiana. You must have purchased your ticket by Aug. 23 and be scheduled to travel Aug. 25-27. You must re-book to travel between Aug. 25-30 and keep the same origin and destination cities. Learn more here.
  • Delta: If you’re traveling to, from or through Houston, Austin or San Antonio on Aug. 25 or 26, Delta will waive the change fee on flights re-booked by Aug. 29. If your flight is cancelled or significantly delayed, you will get a refund on the unused portion of your ticket. Details here.
  • Frontier: Those traveling Aug. 25-27 through Austin, San Antonio, Houston or New Orleans may make one itinerary change at no cost. Travel must be completed by Sept. 18. If your flight is cancelled, you can request a refund. More here.
  • JetBlue: If you’re traveling Aug. 25 or 26, JetBlue will allow you to re-book for travel Aug. 27-30 at no cost. Customers with cancelled flights can receive a refund. Original travel must have been booked on or before Aug. 23. Details here.
  • Southwest: Those traveling through Austin, Corpus Christi, Harlingen, Houston or San Antonio between Aug. 25-28 may re-book within 14 days of the original date for travel to and from the original departure and arrival cities. If your flight is cancelled you may request a refund. Learn more here.
  • United: If you were scheduled to travel Aug. 25-29 through Austin, Brownsville, College Station, Corpus Christi, Harlingen, Houston, Lake Charles, Laredo, McAllen or San Antonio, change fees will be waived for new flights departing before Sept. 1 to and from the originally ticketed cities. Details here.

Find the full list of airlines that serve ABIA here.

It’s Cheap Flight Day! Here’s what you need to know

If you’re not a frequent traveler, the week of Aug. 23 may have no special significance, but for those of us who spend a lot of time in the sky, it can be even better than Black Friday. That’s because Aug. 23, aka Cheap Flight Day, traditionally marks the start of the fall travel season and is the day that airlines frequently drop fares on many if not most of their routes. Here are some answers to common questions about Cheap Flight Day and some tips on getting the best fares out of Austin.

Commercial Airline Comes In For Landing In Florida
A plane comes in for a landing at Miami International Airport. credit: Getty Images

Why Aug. 23? By Aug. 23, the majority of kids have gone back to school and the demand for leisure travel decreases a lot. Airlines know this, so they drop fares by 20 percent or more.

Does this apply to international flights? Yes! You’ll see a drop in fares for international as well as domestic flights.

What are the best days to fly to get a good fare? Traditionally, traveling on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays will get you the best deals, but that can vary widely depending on where and when you’re going.

What happens if I don’t book on Aug. 23? No worries. Cheap Flight Day should really be called Cheap Flight Season, because the reduced fares will continue to be available (and could even drop more) through early November.

How far in advance of my trip should I book? Book at least 30 days ahead.

Where can I go on the cheap in the next few months?  Great question. Here’s a sample of some deals I found out of Austin in September and October:

  • Austin to New Orleans, traveling Oct. 14-24: $38 roundtrip on Frontier Airlines. (Note: Frontier is a low-cost airline that charges extra for seats, luggage, etc.)
  • Austin to Denver, traveling Sept. 20-23: $123 roundtrip on Frontier Airlines.
  • Austin to Chicago, traveling Sept. 2-6: $125 roundtrip on American Airlines.
  • Austin to Portland, Oregon, traveling Sept. 13-16: $204 roundtrip on United Airlines.
  • Austin to Vancouver, traveling Sept. 10-16: $313 roundtrip on Delta.
  • Austin to Nassau, Bahamas, traveling Sept. 6-12: $325 roundtrip on JetBlue.

What sites can help me find good deals? If you want to get out of town but don’t care where you’re going, try using airfarewatchdog.com. You can enter your departure city and it will give you a list of places where you can travel for cheap. I also like kayak.comhipmunk.com and travelzoo.com. And be sure to sign up for weekly alerts and last-minute deal alerts on the major airline websites, including flyfrontier.com/ways-to-save/online-dealstravel.southwest.com/specialoffers and united.com/web/en-US/apps/booking/specials/default.aspx.

What are some other tips for finding deals this fall?

  • Don’t forget to include Houston and Dallas as possible departure cities in your searches, especially for international travel. It can be worth the drive if you can score a low fare.
  • Be flexible with your dates. You know how most airlines offer a calendar view that allows you to see all of the fares to a particular destination for the month? If you have some wiggle room in terms of when you travel, book according to the lowest fare.

5 last-minute trip ideas if you want to see the Aug. 21 solar eclipse

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Aug. 21 marks the date of the highly anticipated Great American Eclipse, the first total solar eclipse to cross the continental United States from coast to coast in nearly 100 years.

Viewers who live in the eclipse’s path of totality — a 70-mile-wide ribbon that stretches from Oregon to South Carolina — will be able to see the moon completely cover the sun for about 2 minutes on this day.

RELATED: Here’s where to get some of the best views of the total solar eclipse in Texas

Unfortunately, Texas is not in the path of totality. But if you’re up for planning a last-minute trip (this is a pretty darn special occasion, after all) there are numerous places within the path of totality where you can view the eclipse and find plenty else to do once you get there. Here are five of our favorites.

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Hikers and backpackers love Great Smoky Mountains National Park. credit: Adam Lau/Knoxville News Sentinel/MCT

Great Smoky Mountains National Park: There’s a reason Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States. Sitting along the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, it spans more than 800 square miles in the Southern Appalachian Mountains and features lush forests, rivers and waterfalls. More than 19,000 species have been documented in the park, although scientists have said another 80,000 to 100,000 may also live there, and wildflowers bloom year-round. Totality at the park will begin at 2:35 p.m. EST and last 1 minute, 17 seconds. nps.gov/grsm.

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Go for the eclipse, stay for the food in Columbia, S.C. credit: Midlands Authority for Conventions, Sports & Tourism

Columbia, South Carolina: The capital of South Carolina, Columbia is an excellent option for those seeking a family friendly long-weekend getaway that will include viewing the eclipse. Popular attractions in Columbia include the South Carolina State House, Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, the Columbia Museum of Art, the Robert Mills House, the EdVenture Children’s Museum and the Hootie and the Blowfish Monument. (Yes, this exists. Yes, go see it.) Totality begins at 2:43 p.m. EST and lasts 2 minutes, 30 seconds. experiencecolumbiasc.com.

A man crosses a bridge in Nashville, Tenn.
A man crosses a bridge in Nashville, Tenn. credit: Nathan Morgan/The New York Times

Nashville, Tennessee: The Grand Ole Opry. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. The Johnny Cash Museum. The Belle Meade Plantation. The list of things to do in Music City goes on and on. And now you can see the eclipse, too. If you’re looking for a big-city base to plan your eclipse trip around, Nashville is it. Totality begins at 1:27 p.m. CDT and lasts 1 minute, 57 seconds. visitmusiccity.com.

RELATED: What’s the big deal about Nashville? Everything

Casper, Wyoming: Dubbed a “mountain town for the wild at heart,” Casper is an ideal place for outdoor adventure. The city is located in the North Platte River Valley at the base of Casper Mountain, so scenic views abound. Popular activities include mountain biking, hiking, fly fishing, rock climbing and boating. Totality begins at 11:42 a.m. MDT and lasts 2 minutes, 4 seconds. visitcasper.com.

St. Joseph, Missouri: This Missouri town may be small — there are fewer than 100,000 residents — but there are more than enough attractions to fill your eclipse-themed weekend. Among them is the Pony Express Museum, which documents the first fast mail line across the North American continent, from the Missouri River to the Pacific coast. Other notable attractions include the Patee House Museum, Remington Nature Center and the Glore Psychiatric Museum. St. Joseph is also a quick hour’s drive from Kansas City, Missouri. Totality begins at 1:06 p.m. CDT and lasts 2 minutes, 39 seconds. stjomo.com.

Learn more about the eclipse at greatamericaneclipse.com.

Camping in Texas this fall? Now’s the time to make those reservations

The crunch of leaves underfoot. The sizzle of hot dogs roasting over a campfire. The warmth of a toasty sleeping bag on a crisp fall night.

If you’re craving a fall camping experience, now’s the time to make those reservations.

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Big Rock across Moss Lake at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area west of Austin. credit: Statesman file photo

At Lost Maples State Natural Area, arguably the best place to see the leaves change in Texas, weekend campsites in the prime months of October and November are booking up, but there are plenty of weekday sites available. You can also book a campsite at another state park near Lost Maples, such as Garner State Park, which currently has plenty of October and November weekend availability, then visit Lost Maples to see the fall colors for the day. Just be sure you arrive early at Lost Maples — the park sometimes closes temporarily when parking lots get full.

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Changing leaves at Lost Maples State Park delight fall visitors. credit: Statesman file photo

Excellent camping options close to Austin include Pedernales Falls State Park, Inks Lake State Park, Enchanted Rock State Natural Area and Colorado Bend State Park. Perhaps my favorite close-to-home option is McKinney Falls State Park, located a mere 20 minutes from downtown.

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Sarah Greer and her daughter, Jaden, 11, explore along the rim of the lower falls at McKinney Falls State Park during a guided hike in 2015. credit: Tom McCarthy Jr. for American-Statesman

RELATED: The best places to camp near Austin

There are also options at LCRA parks as well as national park properties including Big Bend National Park and Padre Island National Seashore.