Let’s get the easy ones out the way. If you’re a government employee, you probably haven’t gotten paid, so with no money, you’re probably not moving around too much. But for the rest of us, here’s the what’s what of what to expect.
Your tax refund? Well, if you were waiting for your refund to fund your trip, ummm… The IRS says they will have 46000 of their employees come back to work, even if it’s unpaid, and that the filing period will begin on January 28. But if you need any assistance, because let’s say you’re a small business owner, and the new tax laws seem complicated, you are on your own. So some people will need to wait to avoid having to file an amended return after the fact. But honestly, they’re going to have all of those people back unpaid? I’m skeptical at best.
Are your trying to take my advice and leave the confines of the United States (see here)? Well, if you don’t have your passport, here’s another hurdle you have to clear. But the hurdle is not any higher than normal, travel.state.gov says the turnaround time has not been impacted, so this is a non-issue … or so they say.
And what’s flying with being put through a human sized bug zapper? TSA (Transportation Security Administration) agents are beginning to not show up to work, because they’re not getting paid. Considering that this is the longest government shut down ever and that the TSA is one of the poorest paying government agencies, it should come as no surprise that they aren’t interested in working hours that they don’t know when they will be paid for. (I can’t imagine anyone at the IRS or in the passport processing department calling in too.) But airports are backed up and it’s taking much longer to get through security, to the point that Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport is recommending that flyers arrive three hours before their flight, just to clear security in time for their flight.
And if you are lucky enough to jump on a plane and get somewhere, if you want to check out museums or national parks or anything else the federal government maintains, you are out of luck. Looks like you’ll be stuck with eating local foods and checking out the nightlife, which depending on your interests, may not be a bad thing.
So just be prepared for delays, one way or another, and keep your cool. Being a jerk to government employees usually doesn’t end well, and could f’ up your travel plans in itself. Safe travels and good luck.