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The Travel Services That Close in a U.S. Government Shutdown | Frommer's John Bakator on Unsplash

The Travel Services That Close in a U.S. Government Shutdown

As the wheels of Washington threaten to grind to a halt yet again, another United States federal government shutdown is a concern.

Travel, by and large, is considered a "non-essential" function—and non-essential functions either dim or go dark.

Generally speaking, here's what is not available during a federal government shutdown:

  • Passport services (may be limited)
  • Visa processing
  • National parks and national park units including monuments and historic sites
  • Global Entry/ TSA PreCheck applications
  • Smithsonian museums

These things remain open (but may have some delays because of stresses on staff):

  • Air traffic control (in past shutdowns, this was affected, but not in 2018)
  • Transportation Security Agency (TSA)
  • Amtrak
  • U.S. Customs and Border Control

In the past, some states have stepped up to reopen their busiest national parks, but that's not a given. State parks should remain open since they're state-funded.

Members of Congress will continue to receive their paychecks, by the way. That's protected by law.

Update, December 22: A few states, including New York and Arizona, have stepped in to cover essential funding at their most important national park units. At those, you may be able to enter, but services such as trash collection, ranger programs, snow clearing, and restrooms may be shut down.