Travel trip-ups loom from shutdown

Oct. 01, 2013 @ 03:34 PM

Local travel agents Lee Allen and Jo Ann Hedgecock serve as examples of what could become the ripple effect from the federal government shutdown that hit when the clock struck midnight Tuesday.
Allen and Hedgecock worry that a lingering shutdown of hundreds of national parks and possible delays processing passports could derail or disrupt the travel plans of local travelers.
Allen, the owner and operator of Travel Quest in Archdale, said October is a popular time for travelers to visit national parks in the West such as the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone. With those and other popular national parks closed, it could frustrate his customers who were thinking about an early fall getaway, Allen told The High Point Enterprise.
“It certainly can affect people’s decisions in traveling,” he said Tuesday.
The early fall is the last chance in the travel season to visit western U.S. national parks before winter takes hold, said Jo Ann Hedgecock, vacation specialist with Mann Travels Triad in High Point.
“When it starts to be heavy snow, people won’t go as often. This last month before the snow starts to set in really is the last big bang to go,” she said.
Hedgecock is consulting with one of her customers about a Grand Canyon trip next week.
“I’m sure we’ll go ahead and talk about it. But you don’t know if they can continue with their plans,” she said.
Allen also worries about how the shutdown might affect the U.S. State Department’s processing of passport applications for local travelers who want to take a trip overseas. The State Department indicates it will continue processing passport requests, but the shutdown could extend the time it will take to issue the documents.
“I do have concerns about people who would be planning to do some last-minute Europe travel. The people who would need an expedited passport could be affected,” Hedgecock said.
Allen said it seems inexplicable to him that politicians of both major parties bring the federal government to a point of crisis that could hinder the lives of so many people. Hedgecock said the uncertainty of the shutdown — the developing severity of its impact, how long it might last — has left many travelers in limbo.
“It’s frustrating all the way around,” Allen said. | 888-3528