Brexit effect: What it means for American travelers

If the U.K. is at the top of your to-do list, this summer might be the right time to throw down some Benjamins (probably fewer than you were expecting) for a trip across the pond.

While the British continue to grapple with the aftermath of their vote to break away from the European Union, American travelers can reap some cost-savings — at least in the short term — on travel to the U.K. The already low airfares slumped even more as the news broke — and the savings don’t stop with enticing flight prices. The pound plummeted almost overnight to a more-than-30-year low, meaning everything from London flights to West End theater tickets is now a better value for Americans. And it appears many are already on the hunt for flight bargains: According to our Cheapflights data, in the wake of the Brexit vote, searches doubled for flights to the U.K. from the U.S.

With uncertainty abounding, there’s no telling how long current cost savings will last. So, with that in mind, here are our Brexit strategy tips for American travelers.

people on Westminster Bridge at sunset, London, UK

Cash in on cheaper-than-usual flights and other travel deals.

According to our data, airfares on flights to London from the U.S. were already down 30 percent year-over-year heading into the summer travel season, and they’ve dropped even more following the vote. More travel deals could be on the way: British Airways is already running a flight sale to London (ending June 29) with flights starting at $639 out of New York, so keep an eye out for pop-up deals.

If you’ve already booked a flight to the U.K. (even prior to the Brexit vote), book as many other parts of your trip as possible now.

We’re talking hotel rooms, activities, theater tickets, meals, car rentals and other ground transportation, and anything else you can book ahead of your travel dates. With the USD-to-GBP exchange rate firmly in our favor for the time being, it’s worth purchasing pieces of your trip you know you’ll use now while they’re more affordable.

Consider adding other European destinations to your trip.

Brexit effect: What it means for American travelers 5

The rule changes that will come when the U.K. officially exits the EU are at least two years away so the window to travel easily between countries is still open. But with some doubt over whether the U.K.’s discount airlines will retain their ability to operate so freely between the U.K. and the EU, this might be the time to add on a side trip to Paris or Barcelona.

Don’t get ripped off by airport currency exchange desks.

Some currency brokers are taking advantage of travelers exchanging dollars for pounds right now. Buy your currency in advance from a bank you trust before you leave on your trip, or use an ATM once you arrive to get the official exchange rate.

Be prepared for crowds.

With so many people outside the U.K. looking to snag deals on flights in the wake of the Brexit news, the amount of travelers descending on the U.K. is likely to be higher than usual this summer. In fact, flight searches from China to the U.K. jumped 61 percent in the days following the vote, and searches from EU countries went up more than 30 percent. Keep in mind too that many Brits are likely to vacation close to home this year, thanks to the Brexit-induced “currency shock.” A few things you can do to combat crowds: plan your activities and meals for less popular times, pack lightly to navigate airports efficiently, and, if possible, plan your trip for the end of the summer when families are likely to head home before school starts up again.

A young woman on a boat is looking at Tower bridge and the London skyline

This was already shaping up to be one of the busiest summer travel seasons in history, and the short- and long-term effects of the Brexit appear to only be adding to the fervor. With uncertainty around what’s to come for travel in the U.K. or the EU, now might just be the time to carpe diem.


Main image: istockphoto/lolostock

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