What Brexit Means for American Travelers
The number one question for travelers visiting the U.K. and Europe this summer is how the U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union will affect the nation and travelers. Here’s what we know.
By calflier001 [CC BY-SA 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons
The Pound is Cheap Right Now
As a result of the Brexit vote, the British pound is the lowest it’s been in more than 30 years. Currently, it costs $1.30 for a pound. Before the vote, it cost $1.50. That means Americans traveling to the U.K. right now will get more for their money when exchanging for pounds. London is notorious for steep prices. This drop in price could make those black cabs a little more reasonable this summer.
But Not So Cheap for British Travelers
British travelers vacationing in the United States right now will experience the unfortunate side of the currency drop. The pound won’t go as far as it did previously in the States.
Not Much Is Different Right Now
“There’s no new information,” said Ashley Garrigus, spokesperson for the Bureau of Consular Affairs. “Our guidance to U.S. travelers is the same as three weeks ago. That will continue to evolve but at this time we don’t have any information.” Garrigus added that travelers can always access up-to-date information for specific countries on the State Department's website.
The U.K. Is Already Different Than Europe
Garrigus pointed out that travel to the U.K. already differs from other European countries. “The U.K. is not part of the Schengen Zone. That difference existed before [the Brexit vote]. And will remain the same.” Countries with this agreement, like Belgium, require at least six months of passport validity past your travel dates. The U.K. only requires validity during your stay. So, if you're traveling from London to Brussels and you don't have six months left on your passport, you won't be able to leave England to go to Belgium. This is something to remember and plan ahead for if you’re hopping around Europe in one trip.
Keep Up to Date With the State Department
“We want to make sure people go on travel.state.gov,” said Garrigus. “Because if anything changes it will be updated there. And the information is date-stamped.” Garrigus said the best thing travelers can do now is sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program or STEP. The State Department's program gives travelers information on specific trips and any updates, health concerns or road conditions plus critical information like terrorist attacks or natural disasters. “You’ll get any security updates or travel alerts in the area you’ll be traveling,” said Garrigus. You can get email alerts or SMS texts on your phone, too. Through the program, the State Department can also reach out to a traveler on behalf of loved ones if they can’t get in touch.
Follow Your Embassy
“Some of our embassies have social media accounts,” said Garrigus. Following embassies, like the U.S. embassy in London, during your trip is another great way to stay updated on information specific to the country you’re in. You can also follow the State Department on Twitter for global updates for travelers.
Though not much has changed for travelers so far this summer, some groups have speculated that air travel in Europe will rise as the U.K. leaves the European Union. Air agreements between European countries are part of the reason why companies like Ryanair can offer low fares. In the future, flights from Dublin to Paris might not be so cheap.
For now, enjoy the lower currency rate and if you’re visiting the U.K. this summer, share your photos with #LiveTravelChannel.