Written by Milly Whitehead on 21 / 07 / 2016
Gap Year Advice
With the country in a state of mild chaos after the UK voted to leave the EU last month, I’m sure the question that is nagging on your mind is: will ‘Brexit’ affect my travels?
This is a fair question in a time when the value of the pound has fallen to its lowest level in thirty years and the future of the UK’s relations with the EU and the rest of the world is uncertain.
Don’t worry we are here to put your mind at rest and reassure you that now is still as good a time as any to take a gap year, and help you to ensure you get the most for your money wherever you go.
First of all, don’t panic - despite the fact that the majority of the country voted to leave the EU on the 23rd June, no changes will actually be made until Article 50 has been set in motion, and even then it will take an estimated two years for changes to take place, but it could be a lot longer than that until we see any real change.
So don’t put your travel plans on hold just because the country is seemingly falling apart!
The most obvious way that Brexit will affect those taking gap years is in European travel. It will most likely be harder to travel around Europe as freely as it has been in the past - we’re used to easy, visa-free travel around Europe and take this for granted.
However, nothing will change in relation to free movement for some time, and it is likely that the UK will attempt to keep at least some form of free movement once we have officially left the EU.
Being part of the EU has made travel there cheap and therefore very appealing to the gap year market. However, everything could become a lot more expensive for those wanting to spend their gap year or summer interrailing around Europe.
Added costs could include health insurance if we are no longer able to use European Health Insurance Cards, but panic not they will still be valid for another two years at least. So maybe now is the time to get those interrailing dreams set into motion before the changes take affect.
As travel around Europe does become more difficult and expensive over time it does provide the perfect opportunity to go further afield and travel to more exotic locations such as Asia, Africa or South America without the guilt that it’s far more expensive than staying closer to home.
As a result of Brexit, airline costs are also likely to go up. According to Dan Cancian of the international business times, this will rise dramatically if the ‘open skies’ policy of the EU, which has allowed any EU airline to fly freely between any two places within Europe, is abolished.
Although this isn’t particularly promising news for potential travellers, it is filled with ‘ifs’ and ‘maybes’ and, as with everything else, there may be no changes at all for the next couple of years until the UK has officially left the EU.
Our Top Tip: With the high level of uncertainty, there is even more reason to book now rather than hanging around and waiting to see if things improve or worsen.
Although your trip to Europe may cost you a little more in the future, there shouldn’t be any problems with access or visas in the near future, if at all.
This is mainly due to the size of the tourism industry; Brits travelling in Europe last year spent £20 billion across the continent. European countries are therefore unlikely to want to put in place barriers to hinder this market.
For more logistical details of how Brexit will affect travellers visas and passports, have a read of this fact filled blog on 'The Reality of Brexit'
The dramatic fall in the value of the Pound means that it is now worth less abroad and so foreign trips are costing us more, and this value is sure to continue to fluctuate as the UK begins its official exit process from the EU.
However, there are ways to guarantee the cost of the majority of your trip. Booking through a reputable gap year company means that the price you pay before you leave is fixed and the company has a responsibility to absorb the majority of the currency fluctuations.
So say you were to book a trip now for next year, all the costs included in this are fixed, and so even if the situation gets worse in the next year, the overall cost of your trip will likely not be affected.
Importantly, consider programs that cover almost everything from food, accommodation and transport; this is vital when considering the fragile state of the pound at the moment as these will not be fixed in advance if they are not included.
Remember if you have to pay for things as you travel it will be difficult to determine an exact budget and I would recommend use a low exchange rate to ensure you are not caught out.
Our Top Tip: Booking your travels through a gap year company could be the best way to prepare for the instabilities and save yourself a lot of hassle.
Don’t panic, in the short term there will be no changes to recruitment opportunities or contracts. So if you’re wanting to head out this coming season, or most likely, the season following that, things will be as they always have been. Albeit slightly more expensive.
As with everything else, the future beyond the 2017/18 season is uncertain. No one knows exactly what the negotiations for Britain’s exit from the EU will actually involve so we can’t say how this will effect working abroad.
In the US, as a result of the referendum, the Pound is now at it’s cheapest compared to the Dollar since 1985, so for Americans looking to book their travels through a gap year company, now would be the time to consider the British market, you’ll get much more for your money.
Due to the strengthening of the US dollar since the referendum, Americans booking onto one of our programmes, such as a 10-week trip to Costa Rica, would now save over $500. Similar savings are likely to be found with other British gap year companies – so it is worth exploring the options and making the most of the favourable exchange rates at the moment.
Or if you’re looking to explore the beauty of the UK and all we have to offer, flights to the UK have dropped considerably due to the weakening pound so come and explore on your gap year and the favourable exchange rate will mean food, accommodation and the like will all be a lot cheaper than a couple of months ago.
There really is no better time to explore England and consider English companies to save yourself a considerable amount of money that can all importantly go towards your college fund.
We believe young people will continue to travel no matter what changes occur as a result of this referendum. The majority of young people voted to remain and value the free movement.
It is not a time to abandon the gap year and all of its benefits. Whilst no one can predict what will happen as the UK begins the exit process, we are two years away from substantial changes.
So continue to plan your travels, what’s better than to escape the chaos than by spending time abroad in a foreign paradise. Remembering that booking a program in advance will give you the reassurance of fixed, inclusive costs in a time of economic uncertainty alongside the chance to experience amazing new places.
Unsure where to start with your planning? Download our comprehensive gap year advice guide – The Gap Adventure Blueprint
on 21 / 07 / 2016