When the government last shut down in 1995-96, it cost U.S. taxpayers $1.4 billion, the Congressional Research Service estimates. It’s too early to tell how much the 2013 shutdown will cost taxpayers, but travel will take a significant hit. Here’s what travelers need to know:

National Parks and Museums

Attractions run by the National Park Service will be closed to the public. This means no visits to the Statue of Liberty, Yosemite or Liberty Bell. Travelers who are camping or staying in hotels in national parks will be given 48 hours to leave. Also, all 19 Smithsonian museums, including the National Zoo, will be closed to the public.

U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow said in a statement that “the closure of national parks and federal historic sites to millions of travelers — coupled with the general perception of an uncertain travel process — would do serious and immediate harm to the economy.”


Although Amtrak relies on federal subsidies, the train operator will still stick with a normal schedule.

"Amtrak will continue normal operation of its national intercity and high-speed passenger rail network in the event of a short-term federal government shutdown," Amtrak said in a statement. "Passengers planning to travel on Amtrak trains in the Northeast Corridor and across the country in the coming days and weeks can be assured that Amtrak will remain open for business.”


About 3,000 aviation safety inspectors will be furloughed by the Federal Aviation Administration. These are the inspectors who make sure that airlines are up to date with plane mechanical upgrades, and also inspect the pilots and planes. This does not include screeners for both passengers and luggage or air traffic controllers.

International Travel

Applications for visas and U.S. passports will be uninterrupted because funding for these services comes from fees consumers submit with their application. But if the shutdown last longer than the funds, consumers can expect delays.

The only exception for passport applications would be if a passport office is located in a federal building. Those offices will be closed during the shutdown. All U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide will remain open, but expect delays.


From a statement on the U.S. Borders Protection website: “CBP Port of Entry Operations, including CBP Cargo Security and Revenue Collections, as well as Border Security programs, including Border Patrol and CBP Air and Marine Operations, will remain operational under a government shutdown because they have been deemed law enforcement necessary or necessary for the safety of life and protection of property.”