If this was any other year, I’d have at least five European holidays in the pipeline by now. I know it’s frivolous, but ever since I’ve been old enough to fly on my own the majority of my disposable income has been spent on trips abroad, and the continent has been my number one destination.
At the beginning of last year I spent three weekends in Seville, Malaga and Amsterdam in the space of five weeks. Two months later I went to Berlin twice before spending a week in Italy a few weeks later, and the past five years have pretty much followed a similar pattern.
It’s been so easy to scour Sky Scanner’s cheapest fares, book a flight and spend a weekend drinking coffee in a square somewhere, and my treasured EU passport has taken a battering as a result. European city breaks are my biggest vice, and I rarely say no to an invitation to a birthday celebration or a New Year’s Eve abroad.
But with the Brexit date now just 15 weeks away, my travel plans are at a standstill. On Black Friday, when Ryanair and Jet2 flooded my inbox with tempting deals on return flights to Barcelona and Faro I could feel the nerves in my fingers twitching while I flicked through my diary looking at dates.
In normal circumstances it would be a no-brainer. I’m always game for a two-night stay in Lisbon, even if I only have enough time to squeeze in one pastel de nata on a mad dash back to the airport, but one look at the goings-on in Parliament made me decide against it this time. Two years of Brexit negotiations later and we are still nowhere near knowing what is actually going
to happen on 29 March. Will our passports be valid? Will the pound plummet? Will Aldi still have a decent selection of continental meats? Who actually knows?
Far from the strong and stable leadership we were promised, May and her proposed deal are unravelling at the core, and the likelihood of crashing out without a deal is now a possibility.
Where are all the Brexiteers who said leaving the EU would be easy? On the leave campaign trail Michael Gove assured voters that the day after we leave the bloc the UK would “hold all the cards and we can choose the path we want”. In March last year UKip leader Gerard Batten insisted trade relations with the EU could be sorted out “in an afternoon over a cup of tea”. Well, Gerard, more than 800 afternoons and god knows how many cups of tea later and the issue is anything but “sorted out”.
The situation is already abysmal for Brits travelling abroad. On my last trip to Spain in October I made the mistake of buying euros at the airport and was horrified to receive less foreign currency than sterling, meaning cheap trips abroad aren’t so cheap any more.
Enticing as they were, I decided to delete the marketing emails from budget airlines. Instead, I started thinking about UK destinations I haven’t visited before, not only in a bid to support the UK economy, but also in an effort to reduce my carbon footprint next year. Cornwall, Bath, Brighton and Grasmere are now on my list of places to visit in 2019. But don’t worry Europe – I won’t stay away for too long.