Christmas is a wonderful excuse to get together with your loved ones and have some well-deserved time off. However, in order for families to get together and friends to reconnect over the festive period, we need to face the annual Christmas traffic. Trying to travel over the holiday period can be tricky, it adds more pressure to an already stressful time of year. Here is our guide to not only avoiding the rush but coping if you get caught up in it.
Avoid busy times
It may seem obvious, but take time to consider the busy periods and attempt to plan visits in such a way as to avoid the worst of them. The following tend to be the busiest days:
Last day of work
This is the day that most office workers will consider their last working day before the Christmas break. In 2017 this was called Frantic Friday and in 2018 this is likely to be repeated on Friday the 21st and also have some spillover to Manic Monday the 24th. The roads will start getting busy from lunchtime and try to avoid travelling anytime before 7pm if possible.
Last day of shopping
There is a chance that for many people, the last possible shopping day is also the last working day so that can create the possibility for especially chaotic roads on Monday. If you can, it’s a good idea to try and get all of your shopping done before the 24th and try not to travel at all on that day.
For some people, this is a day of sitting around eating cold turkey – but it is also a day for many people to visit relatives, so the roads are likely to get very busy. There is no specific rush period during the day, but generally, prepare to be sitting in some traffic if you need to travel.
New Year’s Eve
On this day, a huge number of people travel to be with loved ones or to be at a big event. Traffic is likely to get worse in the afternoon and tail off as the evening approaches. Bear in mind that if you need to drive on the big night after midnight, you should be extra aware of other road users. Towns will be full of taxis whizzing around for the next job and there will be no shortage of party goers walking around.
Traffic is likely to lighten later in the evening on New Year’s Eve, but be careful of increased taxis on the road
How to avoid traffic on busy days
Nothing beats an early start for getting past traffic hotspots. This is even more noticeable around Christmas when some people might have a drink and then they must wait until it is safe to drive. Having a teetotal evening means that you can safely set off nice and early to have a much easier journey.
How to cope with traffic
Even with taking all of these precautions, it’s very possible you might still find yourself stuck in traffic at some point. Even if this is the case, there are ways to make it more bearable. Always pack food and drink as nothing makes a traffic jam worse than being thirsty or really hungry.
You can also create a music playlist or download an audiobook. Listening to things you enjoy can really make time fly and is a great way of keeping other passengers entertained, too. If you have younger passengers, pack tablets and a few toys to ensure that they remain preoccupied and that you, as the driver, can concentrate on the road distraction-free.
Ultimately, planning is everything. Jumping in the car at 5pm on the 24th of December and expecting a traffic-free journey is a long shot, but planning the same journey early the next morning may well make for a much smoother ride. One less thing to think about is that if your car breaks down during your journey, the Motability Scheme’s worry-free package includes break down cover from RAC Motability Assist. With all this information in mind, we hope that whatever happens, you’ll get to your destination safely and as quickly as possible this Christmas.