Tips for planning your holiday driving

Your summer holiday starts the moment you close the front door behind you. If you take time to plan the journey as part of your holiday you reduce the risk of arriving at your destination tired, grumpy and stressed.

On the busiest days of the summer holidays it can seem as if everyone is on the road at the same time and all heading in the same direction. After saving up, packing suitcase, buckets and spades, kids getting excited, everyone wants to arrive 'in the holiday mood'. The last thing you want is to spoil it with a horrible journey.

There are several things you can do to remove stress and have a happier start to your holiday:

  • Plan your route and journey timings
  • Prepare for keeping passengers comfortable on the journey - and the little ones occupied
  • Check the UK forecast and adjust your plans as necessary
  • Keep an eye on the traffic situation

Allow time for your journey

When you calculate the time to drive from home to you holiday destination allow for a break at least every two hours. On all-day journeys planning a proper lunch break at a mid-way tourist attraction or picnic spot will break the travel into two more manageable, comfortable halves. This is especially true if it means giving young children a chance to stretch their legs and work off some steam after they've been stuck in a car for a few hours.

On some days and some of the busier routes, such as those from major cities to the seaside, there is no escape from the crowds. You might try leaving earlier or later, but if you can't then at least allowing for traffic can remove some of the frustration.

Check the weather as that affects your journey time too

It's a good idea to keep an eye on our five-day forecast in the days before your holiday so you know what to expect and then check the very latest forecast before you set off.

It's not just winter time where bad weather can disrupt travel. Heavy rain for example, when the roads are already busy with holiday traffic, can really slow things down. If you're towing a caravan or boat, have a roof rack, or bikes attached to your car you will also need to take more care driving in strong winds.

Hot, sunny weekends and bank holidays can generate considerable extra traffic as everyone decides to head for the countryside and coast at the same time to make the most of the nice weather. Make sure you have sufficient food and drinks packed in the car in case you get stuck in traffic – you’ll be glad of the hydration if you’re in a queue in hot weather.

Try your best to leave on time

It can be easier said than done, but having worked out what time you need to leave, try and stick to it! If you set off late you might be tempted to skip a break in the journey, rush your journey and spend all day worrying about whether you'll arrive on time.

It really is worth doing as much packing as you can, picnics made and other preparations ticked off the night before.

Your holiday journey may take in 'smart motorways'. Find out what this means here: how to drive on a smart motorway

Travel disruption

Even though the police, breakdown companies, Highways England patrols and others will be working as hard as they can to clear up anything, even one small incident can have quite a knock-on effect when the roads are so busy with holiday traffic.

Listen to traffic bulletins on the radio or a passenger can check one of the mobile services while you're on the move. There are also digital information screens at many motorway services.

Traffic information services

It's a good idea to make a note of the phone number for your destination, whether it's a hotel, campsite or even if you're staying with friends or relatives. Then if you are delayed you can phone ahead and warn people you might be late.