The Affect of ‘Brexit’ on Summer Travel
BY KITT WALSH
One man’s catastrophe is another man’s opportunity could be the perfect phrase to explain how the Brexit—Britain’s exit from the EU—could affect your summer travel plans. Though the dust hasn’t settled yet across the pond (and may not for two years or more), a few things that may help you in your planning are already clear.
Here are some facets of the Brexit of which you should be aware:
Late summer air travel was pretty cheap to begin with, but the Brexit may lower prices even more. First off, fewer Brits will be traveling (their money just got worth a lot less) and new budget airlines (Wow Air and Norwegian, for example) which fly from the USA to Europe, has made costs go down to compete. With more seats available and less Europeans to fill them, airlines are doing whatever they can to attract Americans (and our still-strong dollar.) If you can get over your fear of terrorists, this summer is a good time to travel to Europe or the newly separate UK.
As part of the incentive to travel to the UK, travel agencies, consolidators and hotels are offering some killer come-hither package rates to siphon off some of the mighty American dollar. Keep your eye on travel sites online, search for midweek in late summer, and you should be able to come up with quite a bargain.
Look fast (as things might change again if the anti-Brexiters fight to have a second referendum on their choice to leave the EU) but, at present, the exchange rate between our dollar and the British pound is so low it will seem like the good old days when you grabbed your knapsack and hitchhiked around England. At a 30-year low, it means that your dollar goes so far it is ridiculous. Get thee to Selfridges to shop, catch a show at The Globe, ride a riverboat up the Thames to Hampton Court (where King Henry VII wooed Anne Boleyn), hop an ever-efficient train and travel the county from Scotland to Cornwall, but do it now. The rate will never be more favorable unless their whole economy collapses (as some doubters say it might). The dollar is even doing well against the Euro so you may want to take the Chunnel and go exploring in France or Italy.
Borders are about to get whacky
Someone will figure this out over the two years or so it is going to take Great Britain to untangle itself from the EU, so in the meantime, your passport will work as usual to getting you into the UK—or at least most of the UK. You my run into some difficulty if you cross from the Republic of Ireland over to Northern Ireland. The last time I visited The Giant’s Causeway, just across the border, the parking cop wouldn’t take my Irish (EU) money. It had to be English pounds and I had to drive miles back from that rural location to exchange the cash. Now Northern Ireland may make it even harder to get across. You may need to have your passport checked, you may be subject to body or car searches, and you may have to answer questions by customs officials. They won’t prevent tourism in the North, but they may make it a little more difficult.
Keep in close touch with your airlines, particularly if you are flying a European or British carrier. Now that England no longer has access to the European Common Aviation Area (ECAA), the costs of your flight may go up. Routes also might get changed and travel delays are likely. You’d best be prepared, by checking and rechecking all your flight arrangements.
With political chaos like the Brexit heaped on top of the recent terrorist attacks, things may get more dicey. Even the State Department issued a warning to all Americans that there is a greater chance of a being a victim of a terrorist attack either by foreign or domestic (remember the pro-Brexit gunman who killed a member of Parliament) terrorist if you travel to Europe this summer. Specifically they mention events that draw big crowds like the Tour de France. Keep your wits about you. Be aware of exits where you are, look around the metro or subway station before you board, and your train after you do. Don’t be embarrassed to report anything suspicious and keep a tight hold on your US passport. It will be your ticket out if things go sideways.
Happy and safe summer travels.