What Brexit might mean for travel

When it comes to travelling, the regulations introduced by the European Union created a paradise for people enthusiastic to explore and discover foreign cities and cultures.

Introduced in 1995, the Schengen Agreement allows more than five hundred European citizens to freely move, work and live in most European countries. The UK is not officially part of this border-free area, but still allows European citizens to travel in and out of the country. Crossing borders without hour-long background checks and the filling out of thousand documents for a visa – definitely a dream come true for travelers with a European passport. Cheap and short flights and the Interrail Pass make it easy for adventurers and holidaymakers to go on journeys through numerous countries with a diverse cultural and social environment.

The fact that in 2014 76% of UK holidays abroad have been in EU countries such as Spain, France and Italy shows how popular the practical use of free movement is.

However, the UK’s vote in June 2016 to leave the EU may adversely affect future trips.

Will we still be able to buy twenty pounds flights to cool European cities?

According to the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta), EU regulations fostered cheap airlines such as RyanAir by opening up the flight market.  Andrew Swaffield, chief executive of the budget airline Monarch believes that Brexit will increase fares and reduce flight frequency. Nevertheless, other aspects such as oil price can also negatively influence the price, which is why it is difficult to predict changes in air fare.

Will you need to apply for a visa?

The requirements for making holidays and business trips to European countries will be negotiated with an uncertain outcome. If it will be decided that visas are needed, travelling will definitely become more time-consuming and expensive.

But weren’t mobile roaming charges in the EU just removed?

The EU has banned additional roaming fees for mobile phone users travelling outside their home countries but once Britain leaves this regulation will not apply to English network services anymore.

The pound & the euro – will exchanging currency become pricier?

In comparison to other currencies, the pound sterling had been expensive in the past. As an international student, exchanging euros into pounds was getting less for what I originally had. Directly after the Brexit vote, the pound’s value fell dramatically. According to the BBC, since then it has been trading 12% lower against the euro, contrasting pre-referendum times. This has certainly helped me and foreign exporters but travelling outside the UK became more expensive for British citizens and might even become worse as soon as England actually leaves the EU.

What will happen to the European Health Insurance Card?

EHIC allows EU citizens to use emergency medical treatment in the EU country they are currently in. This does not apply to UK citizens in a different part of the EU, nevertheless, they still receive state-provided healthcare. When Brexit happens, and you live in another EU country on that day, EHIC will continue to work. However, afterwards it is still not clear what will happen. Fingers crossed that current EHIC regulations will be protected.

But before this word picture becomes too dark, be reassured that these are only some possible scenarios. Our future holidays and gap years may be adversely affected but maybe not. And good news is that until Britain officially leaves on 29 March 2019, current agreements will not be changed. So, use the remaining year to go to Barcelona for a weekend, interrail through Eastern Europe and spend a semester abroad.

Pia Schäfer

Image courtesy of Andy Wright via Flickr. License here

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