DISCLAIMER- This article was originally written in March 2019, and thus reflects the issue of Brexit as it was at that point in time.
Ah, Brexit. Who would have thought that one little word, one of the dictionary’s more junior members, could cause such enormous chaos?
Be you a Remainer, a Leaver, or even apathetic towards the whole thing, I’d wager that Brexit’s far from being your favourite topic at the moment. The saga drags on, with no obvious end in sight, and continues to characterise our United Kingdom as one more of division than unity. One thing we can all agree on, however, is that we Brits love going on holiday. What better way to escape the endless Brexit turmoil than a week on the sparkling sandy beaches in sunny Spain, a ski trip to picturesque alpine slopes, or perhaps even a weekend city break in somewhere like Paris, Munich or Budapest? All great destinations, all relatively affordable, all perfect for removing oneself from the stresses and strains of everyday life. Also most importantly, all easy to get to, right? Wrong – potentially.
Our exit from the EU significantly muddies the waters in terms of what the state of affairs will be regarding travel between the UK and what will soon cease to be our fellow 27 member states. After all, travel is one of the few areas of life where it’s easy to imagine just how much Brexit could change things forever. Yes, the precise form and impacts of Brexit still remain somewhat vague, uncertain and ambiguous, but it’s very much clear that our ability to travel will be affected at least in some way. This article aims to provide some reassurance and advice for all this, in an impartial, unbiased way. (To eliminate any speculation, I love Europe and like the European Union in theory, but not in practice, although I voted remain and stand by that to this day- but this stance will not affect this article.)
Brexit could take a variety of forms. We may leave with a deal similar to what the Prime Minister has proposed, or maybe with no deal at all. This latter scenario would mean that no travel agreements would exist between us and the EU, which many are speculating could lead to flights being cancelled, as we would be removed from the “open skies” policy. Indeed, Ryanair have inserted a “Brexit Clause” into many bookings, which could render bookings invalid in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Wessex Scene contacted the airline for comment, but have as of yet received no reply. However, Wessex Scene also contacted the Department for Exiting the European Union, who provided the following reassurance:
“We are seeking visa-free travel for short-term visits, including for tourists and business travellers. We are also seeking to allow students and young people to continue to benefit from world leading universities and the cultural experiences the UK and EU have to offer.”
They also insist they are preparing extensively for a no-deal Brexit.
Ultimately, much of the aforementioned amounts to little more than speculation. What will actually happen not just immediately following Brexit, but in the years to come, is anybody’s guess. Brexit is too much of a moving target, and government announcements for travel arrangements are far too sparse, to produce a comprehensive article for this magazine on post-Brexit travelling. Wessex Scene doesn’t have a crystal ball, much as we’d like to!
Consequently, in my mind, the best advice to give regarding travel after Brexit is to exercise caution and to go back to basics. I’m not going to tell you whether to avoid booking travel until the impact of Brexit becomes clearer – I’m not qualified to say that and I honestly have no idea whether you should anyway. That said, a great way to plan a trip guaranteed to be untouched by Brexit is to take the opportunity to visit places elsewhere in the UK.
If you do book holidays or any other travel for dates after we leave the EU, make sure you familiarise yourself with the terms and conditions of the purchase you’re making, especially regarding any potential “Brexit Clauses”, as raised earlier. Perhaps contact your travel company to clarify what their policy is on the issue, and what your rights are in the event of Brexit compromising your plans. Be prepared for potential extra costs should the need to obtain a visa arise, and budget this into your trip accordingly. In the same vein, be sure to consider the relative (and possibly further growing) weakness of the pound against the euro and other currencies, when assessing what you can afford. Furthermore, take extra care to keep your passport and other travel documents safe and with you at all times whilst travelling, and allow extra time to cross borders when both entering and leaving the UK – especially during the transition period whilst authorities adjust to the new circumstances.
The most important advice I can give, whether you be travelling for business, pleasure or otherwise, is to relax and enjoy yourself, and make the most of the chance to briefly forget all the controversy back in the UK for a bit. Travel at its best whisks us away from the everyday, refreshes and rejuvenates us, allowing us to return home with a fresh outlook on life. With the looming advent of Brexit, we might need this more than ever.