Whether you were firmly in the Brexit or Remain camp, the UK has now voted to leave the EU. Waking up to a world in shock, & after hearing the term ‘seismic’ reiterated countless times in the press, one thing is clear – that this mammoth decision will affect us all in many ways in the days, weeks and years to come.
What does it mean for UK families holidaying in Europe?
Those of you who love to travel and live abroad inevitably voted in. Restrictions to free movement may have dire consequences for UK residents wanting to travel, live and work inside Europe.
But how will it affect family holidays and travel affordability for UK based British families this Summer and beyond? Below I outline 7 key points concerning travel and how it affects my family.
The plummeting pound is certainly the most immediate concern among travellers and holiday-makers right now. With uncertainty in the markets, sterling has not fared well and fell from it’s rocketing strength last night plunging to the lowest rate since 1985 this morning. The brutal fact is that unless we’re spending in the UK, we’re going to now get much less for our money. However, with other EU countries now calling for referendums, the Euro could well lose steam, which might (lets hope), equal itself out in the longer term. However, referendums can take years to set up so we may be waiting a long time for something that might never happen.
How it affects my family
Our family has been planning a family ski season in the Alps this Winter for some time, specifically because we’ve seen skiing enormously benefits Bo, my 5 year old with mild cerebral palsy. With the support of her Consultant and Physio, we are in the midst of arranging a 5 month move to the Alps come Dec to see what impact skiing daily will have on her legs. Whilst the exit of the UK from the EU won’t have any immediate affect regarding free movement, the poor currency exchange alone means we’re going to have to couple saving harder with frugality in our 6 month run up to our winter departure. What is an already hugely expensive plan, has overnight hiked by, we predict, £2000.
Will we need to apply for visas to Europe? Not only would visa fees impact our purse, after the ease of EU membership, red tape will be pure nuisance. Europe, eager to keep the billions that British holidaymakers spend each year on the continent, should more likely, allow us to show our passport for a stay of up to 3 months. More worryingly would be restrictions for UK nationals wanting to work within the EU – work permits surely will be required?How it affects my family
I met my other half doing ski seasons in the Alps. We’ve both worked extensively in Europe for large chunks of our lives and foresee us living as a family outside of the UK for some period in the future – now with Europe this might not be so easy. Full blown emigration, drastic as it sounds, could prove easier.
3. EHIC Card
Reciprocal agreements between UK and EU countries means that it’s possible to claim back a percentage or all of your medical costs after being treated in an EU country. Reciprocal agreements were in place with many European countries before the EU was formed, so it may be that these will just be re-shaped.How it affects my family
Personally I have never received reimbursement from EHIC – although for the first time I do have a claim being processed. I applied to offset chickenpox bills in France and Portugal last Summer but am yet to hear if cash back is likely. MOST travellers I know always have travel insurance, particularly families travelling so this point might not really hit you too hard.
Roaming charges for mobile users in Europe were due to be phased out next year under EU law. This would have benefited UK travellers abroad enormously! Given that it will take at least 2 years to fully exit the EU, we will already benefit from the ban on roaming. Whether or not mobile phone companies will re-introduce roaming charges for UK users in Europe and whether the UK government would act with legislation against them in that case scenario remains to be seen.How it affects my family
Not the most important factor in Brexit but as our family travels a lot, doing away with hefty roaming charges would have been a big bonus and made European travel more user friendly.
5. Duty Free
Will the UK revert back to 200 cigarettes, 16 litres of beer and four litres of wine following Brexit? Sadly, most probably yes. These are the limitations currently in place returning from non EU countries.
How it affects my family
Our load up point returning from France is always Reims-Tinqueux. Here we break our return journey from the Alps at a Formule 1 and stock up at the neighbouring Carrefour with wine and cheese to last us months. Picking up bottles of vino for as low as 3 euros means an enormous saving on plonk and without it, will, quite frankly, be depressing.
Low cost carriers have been enjoying low taxes due to an open skies policy within Europe meaning ridiculously cheap airfares for everyone. Expect re-negotiations to take place and any excuse for airlines such as Ryan Air and EasyJet to hike their prices. Even long haul carriers, such as Virgin and British Airways, benefit from a US-EU arrangement so fares may increase outside Europe as well. I’ve heard it may still be possible to stay in the single EU aviation market so it may not be all doom and gloom in this area – lets hope so.
7. UK Residents and Ex-Pats Living in Europe
This demographic has had the rug pulled out from under them and it’s these guys, who definitely voted IN, I feel sorry for. Those relying on sterling investments or pensions from the UK will certainly see less for their money and could see a real drop in living standards. European governments will decide new legislation over the coming months on matters such as tax implications for UK residents selling homes within Europe, work visas, and much more.
How it affects my family
We have an enormous amount of close friends that this will directly affect and I really feel for them for the fear and uncertainty that they must be feeling right now. On this score with regards to the future for my family – it will quite certainly prove much more difficult to have extended stays or live in Europe now.
So did we really expect it – that Brexit would prevail as the winning vote? Absolutely not, otherwise I would have exchanged sterling for euros yesterday.
So whilst holidays may prove less affordable for UK based families, I think the larger, more significant loss to us travel loving families, are the pending restrictions and diminishing opportunities, particularly to our children, that Europe gave us.
What do you think?