The Great British Christmas getaway: 4m to head abroad for holidays – while the rest of us face a travel and weather nightmare

An estimated 13 million people set to take to UK's roads from 24-26 December

Around four million people are set to head abroad for a Christmas break this year, according to new figures, while those who stay face transport chaos and miserable stormy weather.

The peak days when the most people will fly are this Friday, Saturday and Sunday (20-22 December), with the most popular sunny destinations being the Canary Islands, Tunisia, Morocco and the Cape Verde islands off western Africa.

For those of us who are left behind, experts warned of congestion on the roads, reduced rail services and windy, rainy conditions.

The RAC estimated that around 13 million people would be driving to visit friends and family from 24-26 December.

Traffic information company Inrix said the busiest time on the roads was likely to be from noon to 5pm this Friday, with the M25 the single most congested spot.

Inrix warned that journey times could triple at the busiest festive time, with shopping areas being particularly busy this weekend and again on Friday 27 December.

Car company Kia predicted that the average family car will be driven 413 miles over Christmas, with a survey of 2,000 motorists showing that 10 per cent make more than 11 trips to stock up on festive food.

With Network Rail taking the opportunity over the festive period to carry out major engineering projects up and down the country, passengers trying to avoid the roads face line closures, reduced services and replacement buses.

In addition, the arrival of a stormy and unsettled weather system has seen the Met Office issue a variety of ice, snow, wind and rain warnings to cover the festive period, all advising road users to expect some disruption in affected areas.

Related story: Snow warnings and gusts of up to 90mph expected

Meanwhile, cost-comparison site TripAdvisor said those thinking about booking a ski break for the new year should consider looking to Eastern Europe for a good deal.

It found that the best-priced trips were to Bansko, Bulgaria, where an average day’s skiing, board and lodging would set you back £104. That compared to £432 for an equivalent 24 hours at the most expensive resort in Courchevel, France, the site said.

In all, Ryanair said it would be carrying a record three million passengers from 20 December to 6 January, while Gatwick Airport will handle an estimated two million travellers between 13 December and 5 January.

British Airways said just under two million people will fly with them between 16 December and 5 January, with this Friday the busiest day as more than 115,000 travellers make their escape.

Across the country, an estimated £2 billion will be spent on travel to friends and families this Christmas.

Additional reporting by PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Travel
Suite dreams: the JW Marriott in Venice
travelChic new hotels in 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect