The Brexit & Your Travels Across the Pond

St Marks Piazza Leoni Amparo
Maria Rally

Editor at

If you’ve even glanced sideways at the news for a moment in the past week, you know that the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union (Britain + Exit the EU = Brexit). So, does this mean anything to you as an American or Canadian planning to travel to the UK or European Union countries? Yes, a bit, and it’s somewhat mixed though mostly good news, and none of it is what we would actually call bad.

The Good News

Travel to the United Kingdom got cheaper the instant the Brexit decision was announced. That’s because the British Pound dropped to its lowest rate against the US Dollar since 1985. Not good for the Brits, of course, but good for us.

Brexit Effect on Travel for North Americans

Before the vote, USD1.00 got GBP0.68 — as of June 24, 2016 it gets GBP0.75. Before the vote, CAD1.00 got GBP0.53 – as of June 24, 2016 it gets GBP0.57. This means that as long as these new exchange rates hold, everything you buy in the UK will be cheaper for you, from hotel rooms, to train tickets, meals, drinks, souvenirs, and everything else. Cheers, mate!

While on a lesser scale, the exchange rate with Euros has also improved in our favor, so you can look forward to some savings in the remaining EU countries for now, as well.

The Not-So-Hot News

Exactly when the Brexit will actually happen is a matter of hot debate, with the EU pressing the UK to make the transition as quickly as possible. The talking heads widely agree, however, that about two years seems the likely timeline.

Whenever it does happen, the hassle-free and low-cost hopping between the UK and EU countries will be history. Stricter border crossing rules will result in longer security lines, and increased costs of doing business will be passed on to travelers. How significant either of these changes will be, it’s too early to know.

Bonus Good News, Possibly

The genuinely negative impact on travel will be for Brits and Europeans, since their costs jumped as instantly as ours dropped. If they travel less, providers will be scrambling to fill empty seats on planes and trains, cabins on cruise ships, rooms in hotels and B&Bs, and move parked rental cars by offering extra-good deals to Americans and Canadians, piling on the savings for us.

It’s just a possibility right now, but a good one.

The Upshot

If you were thinking of visiting the UK or Europe, now’s a good time to do it for making the most of your budget. If you were thinking of a multi-country trip involving a UK country and an EU country, now’s definitely the time to do it before all the cost- and hassle-saving benefits of the UK’s EU membership are gone.

The Fly in the Ointment

And then there’s something that might make all of this moot. The people of the United Kingdom who are unhappy with the vote results have invoked EU Referendum rules to petition Parliament for a second vote on the Brexit, due to the very slight margin of victory for the separation and a voter turnout under 75%. Parliament considers all petitions that receive at least 100,000 signatures – as of June 26, 2016, just two days after the vote, the petition had over 3.5 million signatures.

What will happen? We’ll have to wait and see.