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
  • Visa processing
  • National parks and national park units including monuments and historic sites
  • 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, January 20: The White House claims that the gates of national parks will not close in the January 2018 shutdown. This is not entirely true—the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, for example, are closed. Check with the park you intend to visit. If a park does remain open, basic services such as campground access, snow clearing, and restrooms may be unavailable.

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Categories: Air Travel, Cruise, Entry Requirements & Customs, Money and Fees, National Parks, News