With three days off and sunshine forecast for at least some of the country, the temptation to hit the beach will be high. The real 'Carmageddon' is forecast for Bank Holiday Monday, when disruptive engineering works on the railways coupled with that precious extra day off and predicted high temperatures of 29°C in the South East will mean twice as much traffic on the UK's motorways as usual.
With so many people on the roads, traffic jams and delays are inevitable, with traffic jams likely to be the worst they have been for a decade! So what can you do to make your journey easier? Luckily, the nation's favourite roadside café chain Little Chef have come to the rescue with some top tips to help you keep your cool as the temperature rises and the traffic builds.
Take the High Road
By taking to the lesser-used A roads, you will avoid some of the worst tailbacks, and be closer to some of the best days out the UK has to offer. After all, to quote Robert Louis Stevenson, "To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive." Follow the most interesting-looking brown sign or look on the road map for somewhere interesting to stretch your legs and have a break from driving. Stop off at a Little Chef for a drink and something to eat. The new design looks particularly inviting.
Little Chef, Warminster
Switch Off the SatNav
Who wants to hear constant repeats of ‘traffic jams ahead’?! Get out your road atlas and plan that scenic route with great stops instead. Look for woodland, forests, lakes, rivers, canals etc. Half an hour in nature will restore your energy and help everyone feel better.
Keep Cool Inside and Out
Take enough cold water, at least 1 litre per person, and satisfying snacks for everyone. You could be stuck for quite some time, so be prepared. Keep the car cool to avoid frayed temperatures and overheating. The air con is a big drain on energy and not very environmentally friendly, but when you're moving slowly open windows just aren't going to cut it.
Find Your Happy Face and Relax
Smile - even if you're faking it! Research suggests that smiling, even when it's 'faked', may reduce the intensity of your body’s stress response. So, smile like Charlie, the Little Chef mascot!
Keep a check on your posture too - tongue resting lightly in the mouth, tip to the back of your top teeth; shoulders down and relaxed; neck straight, long and tall; lower back relaxed. Take time when the traffic stops or sat at red lights to flex your hands and fingers, and to rotate and flex your ankles.
Play relaxing music, or listen to comedy shows. High energy or aggressive music and news or current affairs programmes will just increase your stress levels!
Entertain the Kids
Pack more busy bags or other portable entertainment than you think you need, and be ready with a mental stash of traditional car games to play. Add your own version of 'name that tune', 20 questions, name that film etc. Or take the time to call someone you haven't had time to speak to for a while on the hands-free. Granny will love it!
Wherever you get stuck, Little Chef are geared up to help. Take the next available motorway exit to break up the monotony and frustration of queuing and head to the nearest Little Chef for a break and something to eat or drink. In anticipation of this busy weekend, Little Chef have brought in extra supplies of food and drink so they have everything you need. Whether you decide to eat in or to stock up the car and keep going, or head to an outside spot, they have everything you need.
Diners will also be rewarded with a new promotion, the largest the group has run. With sticker sheets to entertain the kids on the road and prizes including a BMX, a Sony PlayStation 4, an iPhone 6 Plus and lots more.
According to one article, hotspots to avoid this weekend include sections of the M25, M6, M4 and M27. And don't forget the traffic build up around festivals at Reading and Leeds, Creamfields in Cheshire and CarFest South in Hampshire.
Here are the top congestion spots to avoid over the Bank Holiday weekend, including the expected delay time:
- M25 between J9 Leatherhead and J21 Winch Hill Wood (90 minutes)
- M5 southbound from J14 Thornbury and J22 Highbridge (90 minutes)
- M25 between J4 Orpington and Dartford Tunnel (50 minutes)
- M27/A31 between Southampton and Ringwood (50 minutes)
- M4 westbound from London to the West Country (50 minutes)
- M6 between J19 Knutsford and J22 Warrington (45 minutes)
- M6 northbound from Keele to Knutsford (40 minutes)
- A303 westbound from Andover to Amesbury (40 minutes)
- M5 between J4a Bromsgrove and J7 Worcester (30 minutes)
- M25 between J29 Codham Hall Wood and the QEII Bridge (30 minutes)
- M60/M62 between J8 Carrington and J20 Rochdale (20 minutes)
Wherever you're going this weekend, I hope your journey is as stress-free as possible. And don't forget, there's a Little Chef not far away!