As we all know by now, the clock is ticking on another federal government shutdown. If the two sides don’t stop yelling at each other and come to some form of agreement soon, October 1st is going to bring a lot of change to your traveling life (change that we all hope is brief and temporary). If you are getting ready to make some weekend plans or looking for a fall escape, here are a couple of things you should keep in mind should the shutdown arrive.
National parks and zoo
National parks, wildlife refuges and other public lands will close in the event of a government shutdown. Visitor centers will close their doors. If you planned on being on a campground in one of the impacted areas, you’ll be given 48 hours notice to make alternate arrangements. More than 400 areas will be impacted, so if you and the girls were headed for a hiking trip to the Grand Canyon, you might want to leave now (or postpone).
National monuments or other museums
Planning on visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Alcatraz or the Washington Monument? Access to the park areas, the monuments and the visitor centers will be denied.
Passport and visa processing
According to the Congressional Research Service, during the shutdowns of 1995/1996, 200,000 passport applications piled up and 30,000 visa applications went unprocessed each day. This time will be no different. If you are about to travel for business, make sure your documents are already in order. Don't wait and then yell at your assistant to fix things-- she won't be able to help you. If you need to renew your passport for travel in a few months, make sure to send in the application now. Why now? If the shutdown occurs the backlog will be tremendous. You don’t want to be on the bottom of that pile.
Visiting Washington, D.C.
Just on a general note, if you were planning a trip to Washington, D.C., keep in mind that everything from public event permits to trash collection will be affected. With all the monuments, parks and other sites closed following a shutdown, it's not unreasonable for you to rethink the timing of your visit. However, you'll want to check with your hotels to see what their cancellation policies are. You don't want to wait until the last minute to make a decision and have it cost you in fees.