back to top

Here's How Brexit Will Impact Your European Travel Plans

Everything you need to know.

Posted on

"The immediate effect is that it's a good time for American travelers to go to Britain and Europe," George Hobica, travel expert and president of the site Airfarewatchdog, told BuzzFeed Travel.

Tomassereda / Getty Images

There are essentially two big reasons for this. First, the pound is down, and the euro is fallingso you'll be able to get more out of your American dollar.

Secondly, the actual hotel rates and airfare rates may also go down.

"Fewer Europeans will be going to Britain, perhaps because they'll feel unwelcome, so British hotels may suffer and the rates will go down," Hobica said.

Airfares from the U.S. to Britain and Europe will also likely fall; there was already a $500 roundtrip flight to London on Virgin Atlantic Friday morning.

"That's because fewer people from the U.K. and Europe will be coming to the U.S. if the pound and the euro remain expensive — so the airlines will have to fill seats," Hobica said.

And the best way to do that? Lower prices.

But even though Britain and Europe are more of a bargain than usual, the U.K. is even more "on sale."

Pedro Szekely / Via Flickr

"This is a historic low for the pound — it dropped 10% overnight, so everything right now is about 10% cheaper — but not a historic one for the euro," Zach Honig, editor of the travel deal-finding site The Points Guy, told BuzzFeed Travel. "We've seen an even more favorable exchange rate for the euro a couple years ago."

That said, Britain is still potentially more expensive than some other countries in Europe — so you should really only view it as a budget-friendly option if the country has been on your list already.

"If London and the rest of England have been in your travel plans for years, but you've been priced out of them, now is the best time to visit this historically expensive destination," Honig said.

London will definitely be a hot spot for American travelers this summer, he added.

So what should you do, exactly, to make the most of this favorable exchange rate? For starters, if you don't have a flight already, book one now — but do so through a British site, not an American one.

Annie Daly

"That's because you'll pay in British pounds that way, meaning you can take advantage of the low rate," Honig said.

So, for example, if you normally book your flights through Google Flights or some other search engine, try going directly to the U.K. version of the British Airways' site (just change the country from the U.S. to the U.K. in the top right corner).

"Do some digging on the British sites, and you'll definitely come out ahead," Honig said.

Also, if you normally try to fly out of Paris or some other European city to avoid the heavy APD (Air Passenger Duty) cost that the U.K. charges to fly out of its airports, it may actually be smarter to fly out of London now.

"In the past, many people have taken the train from England to Paris to fly out from there, figuring that the cost of the train is still cheaper than the cost of the APD — but that may not be the case anymore, so do your research," Honig said.

Advertisement

Next up: Book a hotel, which will likely be much cheaper than usual.

"We'll definitely see some rate adjustments downward [i.e., cheaper hotels] because of demand," Hobica said.

If you have a reservation already and your hotel is holding your card on file, be sure to ask them to process your final bill as a new transaction.

"That way, you don’t end up getting stuck with the less favorable exchange rate that may have been locked in on the date your card was authorized," Honig said.

Visitors can also pay with a different card entirely, just to avoid potential confusion, he added.

Once you arrive, use ATM cards to withdraw cash, rather than charging your purchases on your credit card.

"Visa and Mastercard have exchange rates that fluctuate from day-to-day, but they aren't in real time — so by taking money out from the ATM, you'll have a better idea of the exchange rate you're getting," said Honig, who's found, anecdotally, that ATM withdrawals match the real-time rate fairly closely.

Pro tip: Use an app like XE Currency Converter to track the real-time rate.

And finally, when all is said and done, be sure to not get so excited about the sweet exchange rate that you throw all your other budget tricks out the window — because overseas fees can still getcha.

Via amazon.com

"It's really important to still limit your overseas purchases to a card that waives foreign transaction fees — including flights and hotels booked in British pounds," Honig said.

If you don't have one, consider applying for one before your trip. Chase Sapphire Preferred and Citi Prestige are both good options. And be sure to check out this list of cards that do charge foreign transaction fees — so you can do some preemptive damage control.

In the end, Hobica points out that while the exchange rate is favorable right now, it could stabilize a bit once the shock is over. Even so, now's a great time to go to the U.K.

New Line Cinema

"This may just be morning-after shock," Hobica said.

Still, he's all for upping your travel game.

"What will happen two years from now is anyone's guess, but for now, make hay while the sun shines!"

Contact Annie Daly at annie.daly@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.