I often write of my love for London winters. Especially when the air is crisp, the skies are dark and the best thing to do is come home after Christmas celebration or silly season festivities, and snuggle down with a hot water bottle and a cuppa tea. How can it not be my favourite time of the year?
It’s also my favourite time of year because, usually, we are in the process of planning our travels and holidays for the following year. It’s not often we have no idea of what we’re doing or where we want to go. Until now.
2017 is a year of unknown and uncharted territories for us. In life as well as travel.
What we do know is that we will continue to travel to amazing destinations, starting with New Year’s Eve celebrations in Whistler in western Canada and the Italian Alps in March. But that is where our travel planning for 2017 has stopped.
“Why?” You ask.
Our world and the world we live in is changing
Earlier this year: Brittan voted to leave the European Union, Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the US Presidential elections, Europe and the Middle East started to feel all kinds of economic turmoil in addition to dealing head-on with a refugee crisis the world has never seen. Don’t even get me started with Asia or the crazy things going on in many countries in Africa. And Iceland, what are you doing up there with your Pirate Party? Back home in Australia, despite all predictions and the down turn of the mining sector, the economy grew stronger.
“So, what?” You ask.
The world economy has directly impacted on our travel plans.
“How?” You ask.
The economy has a domino impact on many things that affect travel, including safety and affordability.
Security and unrest is a big consideration for many travellers (and it should be)
Would you travel to a country if your home country advised against it? Or if they had experienced some kind of political unrest or coup?
We travelled to Egypt in April 2013, after a state of emergency was lifted and a few months before the coup of Morsi and consequential unrest. We travelled to Turkey in April 2014, less than 12 months after violent mass anti-government protests and a year before a series of suicide bomb attacks in 2015.
Both counties and their political, economic and cultural situations were incredibly fascinating and our travels were an eye-opening experience. Even though our plans unexpectedly changed a couple of times, thankfully we didn’t see any violence and we didn’t feel unsafe. But it has made me think about our travel plans to other countries around the world.
Affording travel is a luxury
Mostly, I think that the best time to travel is when you’re broke. It makes you think out of the box about accommodation, activities and transport. And, having less disposable income means that you’re more likely to shop for groceries with the locals or find a hidden-away budget-friendly café than eat at a top-10 restaurant. Not that there’s anything wrong with that either.
But, the truth is that you do need some disposable income to travel. And, when you’re travelling internationally you need to take into account the value of your earnings and the value of local currency. This year we’ve learned that foreign exchange rates can change drastically at any time.
Today, while we work in the London and wait in limbo for Boris Johnson and Theresa May’s Brittan to trigger the process that will begin it’s untangling from the EU, our earnings are slipping in value. After 12 months of glorious exchange rates, the Great British Pound Stirling took a sharp dive immediately after the Brexit vote and it’s never fully recovered. The pounds we set aside to purchase a house in Australia dropped in value overnight. The pounds we set aside for travel in Europe dropped in value overnight.
While the value of the pound might not be enough to impact a quick weekend in Spain or a ski trip in Italy, it will impact on how many trips we can do throughout the year and how long we can travel for each time.
So, what’s the plan?
It’s now December 2016 and we’re preparing for several magical holidays over the coming months but we’re not planning anything beyond.
There are many ideas, fantasies, and what if…’s. But no plans.
Not yet. Watch this space.