Driving home for Christmas? Travel advice for the festive season

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Christmas; it’s the most wonderful time of the year. But with a frenzied rush of millions hitting the road to visit friends and family, the merry festivities can soon turn frightful!

According to research carried out by AA, Friday 22 December will be the busiest day for traffic in the UK this holiday period – as the Christmas getaway from work combines with a flurry of last-minute shoppers.

A poll of 18,547 AA members found that 40% plan to drive over 20 miles on that day. This equates to a whopping 13 million drivers on the road!

Although Friday is expected to be the busiest day for drivers, the Christmas rush looks set to begin on Wednesday 20 December. More than a third of drivers will then be travelling on Saturday (23 December), with shopping traffic anticipated to peak on this day. On Christmas eve, over a quarter of drivers will be on the road.

How about after Christmas?

Christmas Day traffic will be fairly quiet as usual, but the roads won’t be totally deserted, with 21% likely to drive over 20 miles.

Around 19% will venture to visit family and friends on Boxing Day, compared with a valiant 6% who will be braving the sales!

However, Wednesday 27 December is when the traffic will really pick up as more than a third of drivers get back behind the wheel – with one in ten making the bleak trip back to work. As a result of this peak in traffic, significant delays are expected across the UK’s busiest motorways and A roads.

Take a look at the results of AA’s poll, where 18,574 drivers were asked on which days they expect to use their car for a journey over 20 miles:

Traffic hotspots

Traffic analysts, INRIX, predict the worst delays over the festive period could exceed four hours on certain roads. If this is the case, avoid a nightmare before Christmas and consider an alternative route to your destination. It’s also advised to check up-to-date traffic reports before embarking.

The table below shows the UK’s worst routes over the holiday season:

Stay entertained on the road

As Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year for traffic, it’s important to make sure you’re prepared for any journey ahead – and that means keeping the family entertained.

Highway 400/600 in-car adapters are the easiest way of adding amazing DAB+ radio, wireless Bluetooth streaming and Spotify connectivity to any vehicle. Highway 600 also offers safe hands-free calling, making it simple to contact friends and family while behind the wheel this Christmas.

Make a great saving this December when buying a Highway 400 or 600 adapter from Halfords. With up to £40 off, it’s the perfect festive gift for any driver.

Other top tips for your Christmas travel

  • Have a playlist pre-loaded, so there’s no need to be distracted from the road by skipping songs. Pure’s Christmas Crackers playlist on Spotify is the ultimate festive road trip soundtrack….
  • Or get in the festive spirit by tuning into some cracking Christmas stations on digital radio.
  • Make sure you have a sat-nav or map available in case of any unexpected diversions.
  • Don’t forget to do the basic checks before heading off, such as checking lights, tyre pressure and topping up windscreen wash and anti-freeze.
  • Shopping over the Christmas period? Use park and ride facilities where possible to avoid heavily congested central areas.
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