Brexit Blog

Travel: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step… and possibly a fist-full of Visas

Call it what you like: inter-railing, backpacking, a gap year (maybe even yah) or studying abroad – European travel is one of the chiefest Brexit-related topics that young people we meet are keen to discuss. Naturally, they do a lot of it – for now.

According to Forbes, hostels have now overtaken hotels as the most popular form of accommodation thanks to young people and according to Erasmus, the year 2014 saw 15,600 UK students spend their time in another European country studying. More young people than ever before choose to head out ‘on the road’ (thanks Kerouac) intrepidly searching for new cultural experiences and Instagram-worthy scenery.

They aren’t alone either. Over the past decades within the European Union we have all benefitted from: border-less travel, cheaper airfares, health insurance on an equal status as locals, and (throughout much of mainland Europe) a universal currency. We know now however, it’s all about to change.

The question on young people’s minds: how will European Travel look post-Brexit?

My intention as we discuss each topic is to highlight well-written articles that show different perspectives – one pro the Brexit effect and one anti –  on whichever Brexit topic we are focussing on; however on the subject of European travel it would appear there is consensus – it will be significantly more complicated. The dispute isn’t so much pro or con in this case, but more so the degree of con. Will it be irksome? Or catastrophic?

There are two likely outcomes being proposed:

  • We are given non-EU citizen travelling status. The EU in general is tightening control on travel by non-EU citizens (which we are destined to become) throughout its region as I type. A legislative direction taken well-before the Brexit referendum and is aimed at strengthening the EU’s external borders. Read more about what those restrictions might mean for our travel plans here. This article presupposes that, if we fall into the category of non-EU citizens, we will require pre-travel visas that outline travel intent before admission into the EU is granted.
  • We negotiate a special travel arrangement for British citizens. The Association of British Travel Agents claim that all of the red-tape can be avoided if the Department for the Exiting of the European Union (snappy title) makes travel a negotiating priority – read more here for what that arrangement might look like.

I predict I am going to be typing this a lot, but it depends upon the negotiation process and what ideological stance the Prime Minister sets for her negotiation team. Hard or soft? Brexit that is, not eggs. If a hard Brexit lies in our future then it is conceivable we may end up classed as non-EU citizens and therefore subject to restrictions.  Soft Brexit, alongside trade and market access, could mean a UK specific travel arrangement that makes it easier to devour a plate of moules in the shadow of the tour de Eiffel.

Until we know more, I urge young and old alike to grab your cameras, book a hostel (yes hostels!), and hop on the Eurostar – enjoy it whilst you can!

In other news, Teachers! Check out this link for access to a fantastic Brexit-debate inspired lesson we have created available through the Times Educational Supplement.

Until next time, I’m off to trade-mark the name ‘fist-full of visas’ as a potential band-name.