In the summer holidays the roads both in the UK and Europe can get pretty busy and heavy traffic can cause chaos on the roads on certain days in the summer. We have collected some of the likely dates when you should allow extra time for your journey.
July 19th– 23rd
Most English and Welsh state schools break up for the summer holidays this week, often on the Wednesday or Thursday. As the majority of family holidays begin on a Saturday, ABTA predicts this will be the busiest weekend of the year for outbound travel. The M1, M5, M6, A303 and A30 motorways can expect the longest delays, and expect the ferry ports and the Channel Tunnel to be busy as well.
This is traditionally a very busy day on French roads in particular as most French families take a holiday this weekend, and is also a peak weekend for travel to coastal resorts in Spain and Italy.
August 14th – 15th
In Italy and Spain it is the weekend following the big summer festival of Assumption Day and is also the end of their school holidays.
August 28th – 30th
The last Bank Holiday until Christmas is generally regarded as being the busiest weekend of the year for roads, airports and seaports – most children in England and Wales will be going back to school next week, so with this being the last weekend of the school holidays expect congestion.
Additionally, before you set off, you may want to check whether your journey may be affected by local events – a large concert for example can put hours onto your journey. A very useful site is AA’s Routeplanner. Another clever site is www.keepmoving.co.uk which shows webcam images from UK trunk roads, enabling you to check on the state of the traffic. Tune into local radio stations as you go along too – they often have information on the traffic that national stations don’t.
If you do have to travel on a busy day, make sure your car is in tip top condition (breakdown and recovery companies are especially busy on these days and you can expect a long wait to be rescued). Consider taking a picnic as well, as the motorway services are likely to be jammed!
If you are travelling to the airport or seaport, particularly on one of these dates, leave a good time margin (at least an extra 50% of your usual journey duration) to ensure that you arrive on time and not too flustered!
Don’t forget your holiday insurance
If the worst happens and you miss your plane or ferry, you may be able to claim on your travel insurance for any additional expenses incurred (terms and conditions will apply). It is vital that you keep any receipts for these, and you will also need to obtain proof of the delay – a police report perhaps, or a report from a breakdown company. 24/7 travel insurance offers cover from just £17.01* for a week in Europe for a family.
*Premium £17.01 includes Insurance Premium Tax, based on two adults aged 18-54 and two accompanying children aged under 18 taking out a “standard” Single Trip policy (excluding personal possessions cover) for 7 days for European travel and purchased within 14 days of departure date. Cover details and prices are correct at time of going to press (June 2010) and are subject to change.