If, in the words of Chris Rea, you’re planning on ‘driving home for
17 Stages Of Travelling Home For Christmas
When are the worst times to travel?
On Thursday 19 December, major roads are likely to be busiest between 3pm and 7pm. Anyone thinking of travelling on this day should wait until after 8pm – the later you leave it, the better.
On Friday 20 December, roads are likely to be busy for a greater period of time, between 12pm and 7pm. AA suggests traffic is expected to peak from 4pm on Friday, with delays to journey times on some stretches of motorway including the M25, the M5 between Bristol and Weston-Super-Mare and the M6 around Birmingham. Again, people are advised to travel after 8pm.
Saturday 21 December is predicted to be busy earlier in the day, as people who work during the week set off. Traffic is predicted to worsen from 10am up until around 3pm. To avoid congestion, travel after 4pm, RAC advises. On Sunday 22 December, the picture is pretty much the same, with people advised to travel after 5pm.
Monday 23 December is set to be busy between 10am and 3pm, with drivers advised to set off after 4pm – although at the risk of hitting commuter traffic from 5pm onwards, it might be best to set off later in the evening. On Tuesday 24 December, people are urged to avoid travelling between 2pm and 6pm. If you can, set off well before 10am.
What about after Christmas? Christmas Day is typically one of the quietest of the year for both traffic and breakdowns. Meanwhile Boxing Day and Friday 27 December look to be the busiest days between Christmas and New Year, RAC suggests, with nearly 6m trips by car expected each day, followed by Saturday with 5.6m and Sunday with 5.3m journeys.
What roads should you avoid?
Data provided by INRIX indicates the M1 in Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire, the northern and western sections of the clockwise M25, and the M6 in the West Midlands, are likely to be the busiest in the run up to Christmas.
Two of the longest delays are expected on Sunday 22 December, with drivers facing queues of more than an hour and a half northbound, between Flitwick and Daventry, and nearly an hour on the M25 clockwise between the junctions for the M23 and M40.
Before you set off
RAC is urging drivers to remember their ‘FORCES’ ahead of setting off on a road trip. This stands for:
Fuel – top up before you set out.
Oil – check it’s at the right level to reduce the chances of overheating in traffic.
Rubber – tyres need to be properly inflated and in good condition to give your car a safe, sure grip on the road.
Coolant – this does a vital job in ensuring the engine runs at the right temperature. If it’s not between the ‘min’ and ‘max’ levels, this could be the sign of a problem so contact a garage without delay.
Electrics – your wipers will help keep your windscreen clear of bugs, and you’ll need your lights on during any heavy downpours. The electrics also control your indicators and windows, so check there are no problems.
Screenwash – helps keep your windscreen clear, so make sure you’re topped up.
An AA spokesperson adds: “Along with the Christmas presents, make sure you pack the essentials for your trip including warm or waterproof layers, food, water, a torch, fully-charged mobile and an atlas or sat-nav in case of diversions. If you’re travelling with children, take plenty of things to keep them entertained.”