by Nick Trend, The Telegraph, March 20, 2019
Theresa May’s request for an extension to the date when we leave the EU means yet more uncertainty for everyone, and the situation is becoming extremely disconcerting for anyone who wants to book a holiday in Europe this year.
It’s hard to believe that we still revisiting this question with little more than a week to go to March 29, especially since only a few days ago it looked as though travellers had no need to worry because Parliament seemed to have taken “no deal” off the table. Now things are much less certain. We don’t know if we will crash out next Friday. We don’t know if the request for an extension until June 30 (or possibly sooner) will be granted. And even if it is, we may not know for weeks to come whether or not that will be enough to enable a deal to be done.
That time frame potentially impacts on anyone planning to book for a peak season holiday in July or August and probably the best course of action in the very short term is to hold off booking for just a few more days until we know what is going to happen on March 29. After that these are the key things to consider.
If the Prime Minister’s withdrawal agreement is, after a third vote, finally approved by Parliament, then travellers don’t have to worry. Even if the actual leaving date is postponed by a few months, the situation would be resolved and transport arrangements and border crossings should continue to operate smoothly after the end of the month (though there are still some concerns about how long it will take to check passports at airport arrivals).
If the agreement is rejected then we are in unknown territory and the chances of leaving without a deal will rise again. If this does happen my instinct is that any disruption to travel will be relatively limited - probably restricted to unusually long queues at airports, ferry terminals and rail stations (as we have seen at the Eurostar terminal at the Gard du Nord in Paris this week). But there are too many uncertainties to predict exactly how things will work and the impact is likely to vary from country to country, airport to airport.
Should I snap up a bargain?
In the meantime of course, the travel industry is under enormous pressure as people understandably hold back from booking until the situation becomes clearer. If you are an optimist and not worried about some potential disruptions, then there are some great deals to be had out there.
Earlier this month we reported on remarkably low prices for Easter holidays to destinations across Europe. A seven-night all-inclusive holiday at a four-star hotel in Tunisia was found for £235 per person, including flights, while a one-week self-catering break in Mallorca was on offer for just £118 a head, also including air fare.
However, anyone who is feeling risk averse and has booked or wants to book a trip in Europe this over the next four to six months might still want to implement a backstop arrangement of their own. Here is a reminder of the key things to check:
In the event of a no-deal Brexit, all UK citizens will need to have at least six months validity beyond the planned end of your trip. If you don’t have this, renew your passport now (gov.uk/apply-renew-passport).
Health and travel insurance
Whatever happens with the EHIC card and the reciprocal health agreements which we enjoy as EU citizens, they aren’t and won’t be a substitute for travel insurance. Buy the policy as soon as you book a trip.
If you are planning to take your car abroad, then check with your insurer well in advance that you have sufficient cover included in your policy.
If you are driving or renting a car, a no deal Brexit means that you will need an International Driving Permit in addition to your UK licence. You can get one by taking your licence, a passport-sized photo, and your passport to a main post office. It can be issued on the spot and costs £5.50 (postoffice.co.uk/international-driving-permit) - so you can leave a decision on this one until after the votes in mid March.