Ok, your 401K is taking a pounding because of the Brexit crisis and the impact it is having on the stock market.
There is a silver lining, however.
Because the value of the British pound plummeted on the news that Britain voted to leave the European Union, you can get a heckuva bargain if you’ve always wanted to travel to Europe but couldn’t afford to in the past.
Veronica Kastukevich, owner of Custom Travel in Wallingford, said Monday: “I’ve been in this business for 30 years and I’ve never seen airfares this low. I saw some trips over the weekend were the cost of airfare to Paris was $550 round trip.”
“I’ve never, ever seen that before,” said Kastukevich.
Kastukevich said travel costs to London, Paris, Italy and Scotland, in particular, are “real bargains” right now — and the pricing may get better if the markets — and the pound — don’t recover.
Even though the Brexit crisis only happened a few days ago, Kastukevich said in the “Internet world we now live in,” word of dropping vacation prices has spread quickly, and she said Monday that her travel agency has already seen a pick-up in phone calls, emails, and walk-in business.
“Honeymooners and seniors are our best customers,” she said. “And, we expect to see a lot of both of them this week.”
Nancy Yale, owner of Cruise and World Travel in Fairfield, concurred with Kastukevich’s opinion that there has never been a better time to plan a European vacation.
“There is a great opportunity for travelers,” Yale said Monday. “Europe has always been a desirable destination for travelers but, frankly, it isn’t an inexpensive trip. This is definitely going to boost travel — for sure.”
Yale said she, too, had seen a business pick-up already from the Brexit fall-out, even though it only happened a few days ago.
“Everybody knows the pound has fallen to its lowest level in 30 years and there are bargains to be had,” said Yale. She, like Kastukevich, said she saw an immediate spike in phone calls and emails on Monday when her office opened for business. And, like Kastukevich, she said “I expect that we will see business continue to pick up as the week goes along.”
When asked what spots her clients were booking, Yale said: “Italy has always been a very popular spot for vacationers.”
A couple of other Connecticut travel agents politely told a reporter Monday that while business has definitely picked up since the Brexit crisis, they didn’t have time to talk on the phone about it Monday. Too busy with customers, they said.
It isn’t just travel agents that are seeing a surge in business because of the falling pound.
A worker in the AAA office in Branford Monday afternoon said there had been a steady traffic of customers coming into the office all day, exchanging American dollars for European currency, taking advantage of the plunging pound.
Those people, the worker said, weren’t traveling to Europe for a while, but wanted to stock up on European currency while the exchange rate was so attractive.
The United Kingdom has long been an expensive destination for U.S. travelers because of the strength of its currency, but with the pound plunging to its lowest levels in more three decades it has created the travel opportunity for many.
And, some travel industry analysts say, deals that had already started popping up to attract travelers worried about terrorism may multiply as UK tourist operators try to make traveling to Britain even more attractive.
For those who live in the UK, Kastukevich said, they’re going to feel the opposite.
“Traveling from London to the United States, as long as the pound is much weaker than the dollar, is going to be costly,” said Kastukevich.
A recent Travelzoo survey found that 80 percent of the people who had already booked their summer vacations weren’t going abroad, mainly because of security concerns over terrorist attacks in Europe.
This decrease in bookings, the Travelzoo survey said, has prompted airfare sales and cuts in hotel rates in cities such as London, Paris, and Venice, including four- and five-star hotels, for under $200 a night at the height of summer.
Travelzoo, which boasts that it has 28 million members on its website, gives these tips for American travelers contemplating European trips:
• Keep an eye on exchange rates before booking or departing for a trip.
• If you have a visit to the UK coming up soon, it’s wise to get cash out now when the exchange rate is low.
• Hotels across the region have been historically expensive, and now is a time to track sales and discounts to visit. This will provide an opportunity to visit the area while bringing international tourism dollars to the region.
• Europe-based carriers may run sales in the coming weeks to encourage people to visit. Many international airlines have code share agreements with domestic carriers so you can still earn status for these flights.
• Vacation providers will want to keep interest high in obtaining foreign visitors and will likely reduce rates to keep their tour groups full at destinations across Britain.