December 19, 2019

The Best Times to Travel This Christmas

UK roads are about to be flooded with holiday traffic ahead of the festive week.
The Best Times to Travel This Christmas Header Image

UK roads are about to be flooded with holiday traffic ahead of the festive week. Drivers are being warned to expect bumper-to-bumper traffic queues across the UK. To help you prepare, we’ve looked at the data from the AA of previous years and rounded up all the worst days and times to travel. Find out the places that will have the busiest roads, and when to avoid them.

Busiest roads over Christmas in the UK

Thursday 19th December

M25 Junction 16-7 (anti-clockwise): 
45-minute delays at 16:00

M5 Junction 15/16-29: 
30-minute delays at 16:00

M4 Junction 4-10: 
35-minute delays at 16:30

M6 Junction 20-21A:
 25-minute delays at 16:30 

A303, A30 Yarcombe – A338 Cholderton:
 45-minute delays at 16:45

Friday 20th December

M25 Junction 13-24 (anti-clockwise): 
1-hour delays at 15:00

M1 Junction 11-22: 
45-minute delays at 15:30

M4 Junction 23-18: 
40-minute delays at 15:30

M60 Junction 18-12: 
40-minute delays at 15:30

M20 Junction 1-6: 
35-minute delays at 15:45  

Saturday 21st December

M60 Junction 9-10 (Manchester Trafford Centre):
 30-minute delays between 09:00-10:00 and 15:00-18:00

B225/A256 and A2 (Bluewater shopping centre):
 45-minute delays between 09:00-10:00 and 15:00-18:00

A4540 (Birmingham Bullring shopping centre): 
40-minute delays between 09:00-10:00 and 15:00-18:00

A562/A5053 (Liverpool ONE shopping centre):
 25-minute delays between 09:00-10:00 and 15:00-18:00 

Monday 23rd December

M40 Junction 9 – A34 Abingdon:
 30-minute delays at 14:45

M1 Junction 19-12: 
30-minute delays at 15:00

M6 Junction 12-23: 
30-minute delays at 15:30

M4 Junction 15-19: 
40-minute delays at 17:00

M3 Junction 1-4: 
35-minute delays at 18:15

Christmas Eve  

M27, M3 Junction 14 – M275 Junction 12:
40-minute delays at 13:00 

M1 Junction 29-43: 
45-minute delays at 13:30

M25 (all): 
30-minute to 1.5-hour delays at 14:00

M5 Junction 14-25: 
35-minute delays at 15:00 

M4 Junction 2-12: 
45-minute delays at 16:00

(Source AA)

It has been estimated there will be 32 million leisure journeys between Tuesday 17th  December and Christmas Day – which is the most since records began, in 2013 – according to the RAC. To aid with this, Highways England said it would remove 98% of its roadworks by Friday morning, which will free up more than 800 miles of main roads.

The longest stretch of roadworks in the UK runs across 43 miles of the M4 between junction six and junction 12, near Reading. This particular work is part of the major scheme of smart motorways.

Avoid Traffic over Christmas

While this research should help while planning your journeys over the Christmas period, the most beneficial way to prepare will be checking on the day. Just by simply popping your destination into Google Maps or Waze before you leave will give you live traffic updates and the best routes to take.  Alternatively, if you’re worried about the best way to travel in the weather conditions, check out our winter driving tips.