How will Brexit affect your holiday?
Even with Brexit now delayed into at least April or May, it makes sense to Brexit-proof your summer holiday. None of us want to risk paying for a holiday and then being told we can’t fly. But since Brits still want to fly off to Europe’s sunny beaches, and lots of our favourite destinations – like Greece, southern Spain and Italy – depend economically on the tourist money we spend there, no-one is planning to ground the planes come April.
How do the latest political developments affect my holiday?
Update: 26th March
The latest series of parliamentary manoeuvres see Brexit delayed at the very least until 12th April (if Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement fails at the third attempt to get through parliament), or until 22nd May (if the deal passes).
Even if we leave with no deal at all, the EU has already declared they’ll keep the skies and the airports open as part of their “no deal” contingency plan for 12 months after Brexit, and continue to recognise aviation safety certificates for nine. They’ve agreed that – so long as the UK reciprocates – we can continue to enjoy visa-free travel, but recent statements on the preparations for “no deal” also say we’d need to wait in the “other countries” passport queue, get our passports stamped and possibly answer questions about our visits, all of which would slow British holidaymakers down compared to the current situation.
Solutions have already been found to make sure our holidays can go ahead as usual, and millions of UK travellers have already booked a summer holiday to Europe. So with a few simple precautions and a bit of planning you can book your summer break without worrying what sort of deal, if any, Number 10 and Brussels manage to agree in the final few weeks before we leave the EU.
What are my travel rights after Brexit?
From 2021 you will (probably) need a new document, the European Travel Information and Authorisation Scheme (ETIAS), to travel to Europe. But that won’t affect anyone’s plans this year or next. The EU has also agreed that, so long as we reciprocate, Brits won’t need a visa.
If we do leave with no deal, the government advises you to make sure your passport is less than ten years old, and has at least six months left on it, before you travel to Europe. Recent statements by the EU also suggest that – in the event we leave without a deal – British travellers will need to queue up for a passport stamp and may have to answer questions about their trip.
Post-Brexit holiday bookings are in good shape
Millions of people have already booked a holiday after Brexit. In fact, more people have booked their summer break than last year! Brexit schmexit, the show still goes on.
According to the Association of British Travel Agents, the leading industry body, total holiday bookings for the post-Brexit period are up 12% on last year. So there’s really no need to be put off by a bit of political wrangling. Holidays to Europe are still flying off the shelves!
Will Brexit affect holiday prices?
There’s several different things to consider in terms of the impact of Brexit on the price of your holiday.
A weak pound means more expensive holidays. Since the referendum was first called in 2015 the pound has fallen from approximately 1.4 pounds to the Euro to its current rate around 1.2, with the biggest fall seen the week immediately after the “leave” result on June 23rd 2016.
Practically, that means that if you’re planning to take £500 spending money with you for your trip, it would have cost you roughly £350 before the referendum, and now it’ll cost you roughly £450. So you’ll either need to find another £100, or cut back a bit while you’re away.
If you’re worried that the pound will fall further between you booking your holiday and the date you travel, you can lock in your exchange rate with a currency card like FairFX Money Card.
And finally – not all of Europe or the EU uses the Euro. If you want your pound to go a bit further, the sterling exchange rate with the Polish zloty is currently relatively strong, and Krakow is a beautiful city to visit any time of year.
Prices in Europe
Inflation in most of the major holiday destinations in Europe has been negligible since the 2016 referendum (and prices have even fallen a bit over the last five years in Greece) so the Euros you do take with you should go just as far as you remember.
Depending on the deal (or no deal), you might need additional travel documents. The new European Travel Information and Authorisation Scheme (ETIAS) will cost £7 (or currently about £6.30). But the ETIAS isn’t launched until 2021, so that shouldn’t affect your plans this summer.
If we leave with no deal, or a deal that doesn’t cover driving licenses, you’ll also need an International Driving Permit to drive in Europe as the British driving license will no longer be recognised. These cost £5.50 and can be bought over the counter from many Post Offices (but no longer via intermediaries). There are four different sorts of IDP depending on which countries you plan to visit, so please check you get the right one(s) – if you drive from one IDP jurisdiction to another you’ll need both.
Currently we can travel to the EU with an EHIC card and enjoy the benefits of health care. Depending on whether we leave with a deal or no deal, and the details of any deal, the EHIC may no longer operate after March 29th so travellers will be advised to take out their own medical insurance to travel to Europe. Since it’s always advisable to take out a good insurance policy whenever you travel overseas this shouldn’t add any significant costs to your trip. Holiday Extras’ offers single trip insurance to Europe for as little as £30.76 for two people.
Price of flights
Since oil is priced on the world markets in dollars, a weak pound may increase the cost of flights for UK travellers.
Total additional costs
Assuming all of these came to pass, a couple traveling to Europe and planning to drive while visiting would therefore be looking at an additional £105.50 for their trip in 2019 (almost entirely because of changes to the buying power of the pound). That doesn’t include any additional insurance costs (because we assume you’d have sensibly been travelling with insurance either way!) and will probably go up another £6.30 each from 2021 with the ETIAS. So that’s about £100 extra this year, and about £110 extra, for a couple holidaying in most of Europe, after Brexit.
Will Brexit affect my mobile roaming/data charges?
Currently, you can use your mobile phone in the EU for data and calls at the same price you’d pay in the UK, because of European law. If we leave with no deal on mobile charges, European operators will be free to make their own prices for UK mobiles used overseas. That said, most of the major mobile providers – including EE, O2, Three, Tesco and Vodafone – have said they’ll keep their European mobile prices in line with prices here.
Driving in Europe after Brexit
If we leave with no deal, or a deal that doesn’t cover driving licenses, you’ll also need an International Driving Permit to drive in Europe (see above). The Association of British Insurers also warned UK holidaymakers on 16th January that if we leave without a deal, to drive legally in Europe after Brexit it may be necessary to have a “green card” to prove possession of valid motor insurance – and since the cards take about a month to turn around, it may be necessary to move quickly on this one.
Is EHIC still valid after Brexit?
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) guarantees all people living in an EU country entitlement to the same health care as locals when visiting a member state.
Post-Brexit, the validity of the card will depend on the deal struck, if any, with the EU. A no deal scenario probably means, at least in the short term, the EHIC card no longer offering us protection in Europe.
Having said that, even in its current state the EHIC card is no substitute for a proper travel insurance policy. We would always recommend you buy a comprehensive holiday insurance policy before venturing abroad
Other tips and tricks to Brexit-proof your holiday
If you’re still worried about the impact of Brexit on your travel plans after March, there’s lots of things you can do to Brexit-proof your holiday.
1. Book a package holiday with a travel agent registered with either the Association of British Travel Agents or the Association of Independent Tour Operators.
If you make your own separate arrangements for flights and hotels, then if something goes wrong with just the flights (for example), you may be entitled to nothing back from the hotel, who can reasonably say it’s not their fault you didn’t make it to the room you booked. ABTA says, “Customers who book a package holiday with a UK travel company enjoy the most comprehensive consumer protection: if you book a package, your holiday will be protected under the Package Travel Regulations, so you have a right to a full refund if your holiday can no longer be provided.”
2. Book all-inclusive
If you’re worried about the fluctuating price of the pound vs the Euro, you can book all-inclusive and lock in the cost of your whole holiday, including meals and often even drinks, before you fly.
3. Do your homework
You may well need a few new documents after Brexit. Make sure your travel insurance covers you for any medical costs if the EHIC card no longer works in the event of no deal. If you plan to drive you may need an International Driving Permit. And you should plan how you’re going to make sure your currency goes as far as possible – we recommend a currency card. But – as American luminary Britney Spears once said – none of this is rocket surgery. With a little bit of forward planning everything should go smoothly.
4. Research your destinations
If you’re still worried about travelling to Europe after Brexit, there are plenty of destinations outside the EU just three or four hours from London’s major airports. Turkey, Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt have all been seeing a resurgence in UK trips over the past year, and if you want an authoritative list of post-Brexit holiday destinations take a look here.
5. Book your airport parking, airport hotel or lounge early
Nothing to do with Brexit, but if you’re looking to save money for your trip you’ll almost always get the best price for your holiday add-ons by booking them with us as soon as you book your flights. Holiday Extras is never beaten on price, which means you won’t find the same deal cheaper anywhere else. So with the cost of holiday spending money up, and a few extra costs like driving permits and insurance to take into account, you’re best to take advantage of the early booking rate for your airport parking, hotel or lounge as soon as you can.