How Brexit Changes Traveling to Britain

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It’s been three weeks since Brits voted to abandon the EU, and, while the country reshapes itself—David Cameron submitted his resignation July 13; Scotland intends to hold another referendum; Northern Ireland debates reuniting with Ireland; and the Chief Mouser, Larry, will keep his cabinet position—what ultimately happens in the aftermath is far from clear, but the Brexit effects on American travelers can be felt immediately.

More Bang for the Benjamins
The most immediate effect can be seen in the exchange rates between the two countries, which hit a 30-year low (falling below $1.30) in the days following the vote. Though the rates have since stagnated and the Pound Sterling has bounced back slightly, a trip to London is still way more affordable than it was just months ago, meaning a dinner at the chippy won’t cost an arm and a leg but rather an arm and maybe a big toe.

Flights Are Cheap…For Now
As Europeans scramble to make sense of their economy, tourists, particularly American tourists, have begun to see the UK, for the first time, as an affordable destination. Since the Brexit, interest in London and Edinburgh, for example has soared more than 50 percent.

Airlines also began “Brexit Sales” on June 28, which has seen flights from the U.S. to the UK plummet to a three-year low—down more than 15 percent. But Brexit isn’t the sole cause for the low rates. The current convergence of low oil prices, a strong dollar and tumultuous Pound has yielded insanely cheap travel that will, more than likely, not last. In fact, if the EU excludes Britain from the European Open Skies Agreements, flight prices could seen soar. So it’s best to book ASAP.

Will anything change at the border?
The short answer: No. The long answer: It’s complicated.

As for now, American travelers will still have a six-month visa in the UK, and travelers will be free to travel the country without issue. A potential problem come into play with Northern Ireland. Currently, Northern Ireland and Ireland share a restriction-free border, meaning no passport was required for travel between the two countries—even though both are EU members and use different currencies. With Britain’s exit, this may no longer be the case. Ireland’s Prime Minister Enda Kenny wrote in The Guardian, “What is not easy to quantify and mitigate is the psychological effect of a hardening border on an island. My fear is that it would play into an old narrative—one of division, isolation, and fear.” What he fails to mention is that division could potentially lead to the first good U2 album in 20 years.

Tom is a travel writer, part-time hitchhiker, and he’s currently trying to imitate Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? but with more sunscreen and jorts.

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