Why would anyone vacation in Britain with all the concerns about Brexit filling the news? That's exactly why I just spent a month in England, Scotland, and Ireland this summer…to find out. And looking back on it, I'm so glad I went! There's never been a better time to visit Britain. Tourists are appreciated, there's lots to talk about, the pound is down — and the opportunities to grow and learn are endless.
I find I learn more about our country by leaving it, and that's the case traveling in Britain these days. Traversing this fascinating island — stopping in the Cotswolds, Liverpool, York, and Edinburgh and also getting up to date with Dublin and Belfast — felt a lot like being in the US: big news, lots of concern, people dug in on both sides, but politics was only an issue when I wanted to talk about it (since I love to talk politics, that was fairly often).
As a foreign visitor, I found the British happy to share their frustrations, hopes, and dreams. And I gained an empathy for people on both sides of Britain's big political divide. In a Belfast pub, the bartender explained why it's important to have no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. In the Cotswolds, a farmer told me why Brussels has no right telling the English how to raise their sheep. And at the breakfast table in my Edinburgh B&B, I learned how if Britain leaves the EU, the Scottish may want another election, as many would choose union with Europe over union with a non-European Britain.
In spite of the importance of Brexit for the British, travelers will find business as usual: Westminster Abbey's bells will still clang, Highland sheepdogs will still eagerly show off their herding skills, and the local pub will still serve you a frothy ale drawn directly from the cellar. While I wouldn't want my personal fortune or future tied to Brexit, as a foreign visitor, jolly old England is as jolly as ever — the only impact is your dollar will stretch farther.
For some, "travel" is escapism…la la land. That's what places like Orlando are for. (And that's a huge market. Typically, the only guidebooks that outsell mine in the US are for Disney World.) But I travel to learn and experience…to get to know our world. It enriches my life. And for decades now, that attitude has made traveling enriching and hugely rewarding.
In this spirit, Brexit presents travelers with the once-in-a-generation opportunity to watch as the stuff that will someday fill history books unfolds in front of you. Great Britain is a land in transition. Catch it while you can — your experience will be all the more rewarding for it.
This month's Tour News will give you plenty more reasons to travel across the pond, from the moorlands and beaches of southern England, to fun-loving British tour guides, to the Wren-filled core of London. And to sweeten this cup of tea, we're offering a $100 discount per person for all of our 2020 tours. I'm also excited to announce that we've selected the recipients of our 2020 Climate Smart Commitment grants. Each year, as a self-imposed carbon tax to account for the flights our tour members take, we're investing $1 million in nonprofits that fight climate change through advocacy and on-the-ground work. You'll be able to learn all about these organizations — and the incredible work they're doing — in just a few weeks.
I'm known for saying "Keep on travelin'" during times of upheaval in Europe. That attitude is based on four months of travel there each year, personally, and my company's collective experience as a tour operator leading 30,000 Americans there each year. Britain's in a bind, Europe is dealing with persistent and complicated challenges…and so is the US. Let's travel, share, compare notes, and get to know our neighbors!