A British Travellers Thoughts On Brexit

I was on holiday – in Europe – when I found out that the UK had voted for Brexit. When my boyfriend shook me awake in the morning to tell me the news, I initially thought he was joking. Unfortunately not.

We sat down to breakfast as a family, in complete shock. Once the news had sunk in, I headed to the cash machine to withdraw money to last me the last few days of the holiday. The exchange rate was through the roof, higher than I’d ever seen it. Fifty Euros was almost fifty pounds. I had no choice but to go for it.

The last two days of the holiday, we all felt the need to apologise on behalf of our country to everyone that we spoke to. In restaurants, in shops, at the bar, even at the airport; every conversation with a local ended in us apologising and assuring them that we voted Remain. Begrudgingly, we returned home to a Britain that felt very different. Everyone is of course entitled to their own opinion, but many people seem to have voted to leave because they were either taken in by lies written on the side of buses or because they want to close our borders to those who seek refuge.

This is, however, a travel website, so I will stick to discussing the concerns that strike me for future travels.

Parting on Uncertain Terms

At this moment in time, no one knows for sure what the terms of Brexit will be. We hear the words ‘soft Brexit’ and ‘hard Brexit’ being thrown around, but the British public really have no idea what the implications of their vote will be. British citizens who have lived in Europe for many years feel uncertain if they will remain welcome in the places that they call their homes, and the same for European citizens residing in the United Kingdom.

The exchange rate remains shaky, adding costs to our current travels in Europe. Rumours fly around that if and when Brexit happens, we might have to apply for visas or permits every time we wish to visit Europe, adding extra stress, planning and costs onto our holidays. The price of budget flights to the continent could also rise. We’ll probably have to queue for longer at passport control, directed away from the line for EU citizens.

Some of these implications are more important than others (who really cares about queuing when people may have to leave their homes), and some may never happen, but what strikes fear in the hearts of many at the moment is the uncertainty. Imagine not knowing if you will be welcome in your own home.

More Expensive, Less Frequent Travels

The majority of my travels revolve around trips to Europe. The reasons that attract me to visiting the continent are simple: aside from the beauty, variety of cultures and diverse landscapes to explore, it is cheap and convenient. I can hop on a plane and be elsewhere within a few short hours and a flight that could give me change from a ten pound note. When travel is this affordable and easy to arrange, it encourages people to step outside of their comfort zone and make an effort to explore the rest of the world. If visiting Europe incurred complicated forms to fill out and higher costs, would so many of us continue to book holidays?

You may shake your heads and insist that no matter what changes occur, they won’t discourage you from visiting Europe after Brexit has been enforced. The rest of Europe will still be on your doorstep, within easy reach. British people visit Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, despite these countries not being part of the EU, because they are so close and convenient to get to. But these countries are renowned for being expensive destinations, which does put many people off visiting them.

Personally, I can’t see myself ceasing to visit Europe, no matter what happens with the terms of Brexit. If prices and exchange rates rocket, it will just mean less travels than I am currently used to, which isn’t the end of the world but would be a real shame. Dependent on individual’s circumstances, however, rising costs and visa applications may put an end to easy and affordable summer holidays on the continent.

My Sense of Identity

I’ve grown up as a European, and do consider myself to be as much European as I am British. I’m not particularly attached to England and have always considered the possibility of living in another EU country at some point in the future; perhaps retiring to a villa by the sea in Italy, spending a year in Berlin or seeking a healthier work-life balance in Denmark. There’s nothing been said yet about our rights to live and work in a different country being removed as part of the deal, but it’s certainly something which is going to have to be debated during the Brexit talks. If so many people want to close our borders, it stands to reason that Europe will feel the same.

Think of the trouble people have when emigrating to America or Australia, applying for green cards, being split up from their loved ones for prolonged periods of time, having their relationships scrutinised. Do we really want to go through all that if we decide we’d like to live on the continent? And do we think that European citizens should have to do the same to live in Britain?

I know not everyone will agree with me, and that many people voted for Brexit for legitimate reasons or have come to terms with the fact that ‘Brexit means Brexit’; but I personally don’t think it should ever have been a vote for the British public without having access to factual information that accurately detailed the ramifications of their vote. I have my fingers crossed that the EU doesn’t decide to make an example out of us.

Emma Lavelle is a UK based writer and photographer and has her own blog Field and Nest.