Brexit Holiday Blues

Emma Hogan 11 March 2019

Brexit; you’re probably hearing about it everywhere you go. Will we / won’t we leave with a deal, will anyone in Parliament ever agree, what’s this about an Irish backstop?

With the March 29 deadline looming, it’s time for us to look into how Brexit might affect us – particularly in the event of a no deal. This blog introduces our Brexit Impact series, running throughout March.

This week it’s all about travel. In our poll of 113 LaunchPanellists, 56% stated that Brexit uncertainty is affecting their 2019 holiday plans.  So what is it exactly that’s causing your concerns?
 

My pound is worth how much?!

Economists predict that Brexit will cause a drop in the value of the Great British Pound.  Immediately after the Brexit referendum, the pound fell dramatically against both the Euro and the US dollar and has yet to fully recover.  Take a look at the charts below to see how the value of the Pound has fluctuated since May 2016.

Value of  1 GBP (£) in Euro (€)

Value of 1 GBP (£)  in USD ($)

How will this impact our holiday planning? Budget planning. Thought that £10 pint in Iceland was expensive before? That cost is likely to rise. Costs for basic food and drink as well as higher value purchases – particularly where payment is expected in local currency e.g. a hotel  / excursion, are likely to go up.  

It’s difficult to predict what our pound will be worth this year.  Can you afford that once in a lifetime trip anymore?

TOP TIPS:

  • Where payment is requested in foreign currency make sure you compare rates across different providers, you may be able to pay less through another provider that accepts payment in GBP.
  • If you can’t find it cheaper anywhere, don’t forget to pay with a fee free credit card such as the Halifax Clarity that gives you MasterCard’s perfect rate without any added fees on purchases in a non – GBP currency.
  • Different providers offer different payment terms – can you afford to pay up front? You may be able to lock in a lower rate for those big ticket excursions if you’re worried the rate will drop significantly.
  • Already booked? It might be worth keeping an eye on the foreign exchange rates.  If you have the money available it may be a good time to buy a little now to offset the predicted rate drop.  Try sites such as www.compareholidaymoney.com for the best rates or weswap.com.

 

Road Tripping in the EU

Driving your own car

For Brits, it’s a hop, skip and a jump to road tripping in the EU.  The Eurostar, ferry services and short border hops into Ireland make driving your own car abroad an attractive and cost-effective holiday option.

With Brexit not quite finalised, it hasn’t been confirmed exactly what we’ll need to continue driving in Europe but it’s looking likely that you’ll need additional documentation.

Currently, as long as you have a valid UK Driver’s license, fuel, insurance and a valid ferry / Eurotunnel ticket you’re good to go.

However, after Brexit, driving your own car abroad may require a Green Card (And no, we don’t mean a US work permit…though they do like to make it confusing!).  A Green Card will provide proof that you hold the minimum level of international car insurance.

What else? You may also need an International Drivers Permit.  An International Drivers Permit is a permit which allows you to drive in countries were a UK Full Driving License is not sufficient. Keep an eye on the government guidance to see whether you’ll need one for your driving destination before you travel.  These are currently priced at £6, available from your local Post Office.

Hiring a car

If you’re happy to hire a car instead you’ll likely be covered by the rental company’s insurance (always check ahead of time and make sure you let them know where you’ll be driving!) – but unfortunately you will still need an International Drivers Permit.

TOP TIPS:

  • If  you’re planning to drive your own car in the EU make sure you contact your insurance provider for your Green Card – the advice is to apply at least a month in advance of travel.
  • Check if you’ll need an International Drivers Permit – this is not yet set in stone but better safe than sorry!  More information can be found here.

 

Will I need a visa for my £10 Ryanair flight to Europe?

Currently as we’re still part of the EU, UK travellers don’t need to apply for a visa for EU travel as long as you have a valid passport. If we leave the EU this month, between 29 March 2019 and the end of the transition period in 2020, UK citizens travelling to the Schengen area can continue to travel without a visa. However, there’s now a cap on the number of days you can spend in the EU visa free – a max stay limit of 90 days out of every 180 days will be applied.

What happens after the transition period?

Every traveller between the ages of 18 and 70 must pay a 7 euro fee for an ETIAS document, each document is valid for 3 years after which you can purchase a renewal.

So what is ETIAS?

ETIAS stands for: European Travel Information and Authorization System. It’s an electronic system which will authorise your stay within the EU. ETIAS will be launched in 2021 and you’ll need to apply for authorisation for all EU travel including transit, tourism and business travel.

As it hasn’t fully launched the details are a bit sketchy but the consensus is that you’ll be able to apply for this online.

EHIC Cards

EHIC, otheriwse known as the European Health Insurance Card has been a lifesaver for some. Are you accident prone? If so the EHIC card might have come in useful when holidaying in the EU.  Currently, as a UK resident, you’re entitled to free health insurance when you visit the EU as long as you hold an EHIC card. The UK Department of Health and Social Care released a statement in March this year stating:

“We remain focused on securing an agreement with the EU on reciprocal healthcare rights. This includes continued access to the EHIC scheme for UK residents and card holders.” 

TOP TIP:

  • Don’t rely solely on your EHIC card for EU health insurance after Brexit.  Make sure you purchase travel insurance – and check the small print.  Some insurers will not cover you for pre-existing medical conditions unless they’re declared.  On the upside, depending on  your level of cover, travel insurance can also offer a host of other benefits including compensation for supplier failure (if the airline / hotel goes into administration) as well as help in the event of delay or cancellation.

 

‘Roam Like At Home’ 

June 2017 marked a milestone in how we use our phones in the EU (and other selected European countries).

From Google Mapping to restaurant booking, being able to access data within the EU has been a godsend for independent travelers.

The Roam Like At Home legislation pretty much does what it says on the tin:

  • UK residents who are travelling in Europe have the right to use their mobile phone to make calls, send text and use their 4G data* to access the web.
    • Some providers have placed a cap on the percentage of your allowance that can be spent abroad – check with your provider for details.
  • If UK residents exceed their calls, texts or 4G limits whilst outside the UK, mobile service providers are obliged to cap extra usage fees at £50.
  • The law also states that mobile service providers must inform you when you have used 80% of your data and subsequently 100%.

The Law is seen as a great consumer success story and has transformed the way we communicate whilst in participating countries.

So what’s the problem?

‘Roam Like At Home’ is EU legislation and therefore there is no legal obligation for UK providers to continue to offer this benefit after Brexit.

Without this, we could potentially face the shock fees of pre – June 2017 and more hassle when trying to get online abroad.  Let’s face it, who really wants to have to buy a new sim or find an Internet Cafe to post an insta-perfect photo of their cappuccino?!

Despite the uncertainty we’re still living in an era of cheap flights and Airbnb so it’s not all doom and gloom! Keeping an eye on government guidelines and advice is the best way to be prepared for your post-Brexit holiday – bon voyage (hopefully!).

Are any of these issues getting in the way of your holiday planning? Get in on the conversation and share your thoughts and any travel tips you may have on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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