Planning for a weekend getaway, extended vacation, or even long-term planning for your destination wedding or honeymoon, may be affected by the on-going government shutdown – now entering its third week and directly affecting the travel industry.
Airport security is just one of many things that will take a major hit if the shutdown continues. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees world normally receive their first paycheck of the year today (Friday, Jan. 11). Right now, TSA agents have been working for almost a month without pay, according to recent Huffington Post interviews with employees, security at the airport may get worse.
TSA employees received their last paycheck on Dec. 28, and most live from paycheck to paycheck, forcing some employees to look for new jobs or take on extra work. And although TSA officers are likely to receive back pay when the government eventually reopens, that does little to help them with immediate expenses or concerns.
And for travelers, the shortage in TSA agents has created longer security lines and wait times at some of the nation’s busiest airports, according Forbes. So, if you’re heading to the airport, it’s probably a good idea to plan ahead and arrive extra early to ensure that your make your flight on time.
One huge perk about working with a travel agent when planning your vacation is that a Vacation travel agent always has his/her finger on the pulse of all things travel, including travel alerts and warnings, and how the government shutdown may affect your current trip or plans for an upcoming trip.
And if you’re planning an international trip and you need an expedited passport renewal ahead of your trip or if you need to apply for a new passport card; the U.S. State Department issued a statement confirming that they will “continue to offer passport services during the lapse of appropriation to the federal government.” All passport services are operating business as usual during the shutdown. You can also renew your documents by mail. Processing times will also remain the same – 4 to 6 weeks ( or 2 to 3 weeks for expedited service).
For your trips to U.S. National Parks, travel agents will also be able to give you updates as needed, but many national parks continue to welcome visitors even though they are understaffed. Services dedicated to cleaning the restrooms, collecting trash, and maintaining the roads have all paused. In fact, Joshua Tree National Park closed due to health concerns pertaining to its toilets, and halted road maintenance at Rocky Mountain National Park means all roads higher than 8,000 feet have been closed to traffic.
And if you’re planning a trip to Washington, DC, all 19 Smithsonian museums, including the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Zoo, are closed as a result of the shutdown, too. More U.S. National Parks and Sites could close; so, be sure to check the National Park Service website or your trusted travel agent before planning a trip.
Cut through the clutter and consult a travel agent for a stress-free trip planning process for your vacation, destination wedding or honeymoon. Let one of Vacation.com’s on-call travel experts match you with an expert travel agent, who can customize the dream vacation you deserve.