How is Brexit impacting the way young people travel in Europe?
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For decades, young people have explored Europe by rail, bus and boat extensively, shouldering backpacks for month-long adventures or packing a miniature suitcase for a weekend city break. A treasure trove of ancient cities, impressive monuments and idyllic seaside towns, and right on the doorstep of the UK, it seems like the perfect continent for young people to explore on a limited budget. But what happens when Brexit comes into the mix?
Britain’s exit from the European Union will change the way British people travel. While there will be small changes such as no guarantee of free data roaming in European countries post-Brexit, meaning that travellers will have to purchase a pay-as-you-go SIM card to access Google Maps or upload a sunset photo to Instagram, there will also be more significant alterations.
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The lower value of the pound, which continues to fluctuate, is likely to make travel in Europe more expensive.
The loss of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which allows EU members to receive emergency medical treatment at a reduced cost, will also mean it will be necessary to purchase additional travel insurance.
These alterations will impact young people, especially students who rely on a student loan or part-time work to fund their adventures.
With so many uncertainties surrounding Brexit and the threat of a no-deal Brexit still remaining, it might be expected that many young people would be reluctant to take off on a European adventure.
However, a consumer survey of young travellers conducted by StudentUniverse, the world’s leading student and youth travel booking site, has revealed that 55% of British students and youths have not delayed travel plans due to Brexit uncertainties.
Over 60% of respondents said that a no-deal Brexit would not impact their decision to cancel their holiday to the EU.
Yet, while the majority remain resilient in the face of uncertainty, 12% of respondents said that a no-deal Brexit would impact their the decision to travel in the EU. 22% of respondents reported they would feel concerned about the loss of the EHIC due to the additional cost of travel insurance and less than 20% of respondents said they would be more reluctant to travel in the EU if roaming charges are re-introduced.
More than double of those (45%) said: “While it would be a shame to lose the free EHIC, it wouldn’t stop me from travelling to Europe”.
Matilda Martin, a third-year student at the University of York, is concerned that travel in Europe will become less desirable for young people. “I think it’s going to become a lot more expensive. Europe may increase charges for us, and I don’t blame them! There are also a lot of European student discounts for museums in Paris, where I was, which could be taken away,” she says.
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Eve Willis, who has lived in Spain since September, says that Brexit has not impacted whether she will book a holiday to Europe at this stage, although she regularly monitors the news and Foreign Travel Advice (FCO) pages for updates. “The only precaution I take is making sure I have paperwork of my residency in Spain in case the situation changes when I am in Spain,” she says.
“A no-deal Brexit would not make me cancel a trip unless there were very expensive visa costs (costing more than flights) or if it was physically impossible! I imagine it will be like travelling to non-EU countries,” she continues.
For Eve, the re-introduction of roaming charges will have a big impact on the way she lives in Spain, as will the loss of the EHIC. Losing the EHIC, she says, would make her feel nervous about finding a different insurance scheme to cover her and the costs associated with this.
Sam Willan, General Manager at StudentUniverse, says: “Regardless of the uncertainties surrounding Brexit (and) the affects it could have on travel to the EU, we do still see a fundamental desire from students and youths to explore the world.
“The survey findings have made it clear that student and youth travellers alike remain money conscious when it comes to travel. With the low-value of the pound and its impact on the fluctuating exchange rate, over 70% of respondents said they were concerned about the increased cost of spending money when travelling in Europe."
StudentUniverse can offer student rates on hotel bookings, flight deals, and they also work with partners to offer adventure tours. Visit their website for more information.