Between today and Sunday more than nine million people are expected to embark on getaway trips by car, according the RAC, which is likely to lead to lengthy delays, breakdowns and accidents.
In total, 3.8m leisure trips are estimated to start this weekend, following many schools across England and Wales breaking up for the summer holidays.
Some routes have been highlighted as particularly tricky, where lengthy delays are expected, according to information from data agency Inrix.
Anyone heading south on the M5 between Gloucester and Devon could experience hold-ups of up to an hour and a half, while those travelling on the A303 between the M3 in Hampshire and A37 in Somerset could be on the road for an hour longer than planned.
Make sure you don’t get caught out. Keep reading for our tips on how to make sure you avoid starting your holiday feeling frazzled, or worse, dealing with the repercussions of a road accident.
1. Prepare for car breakdowns
No one wants to think about breaking down when heading on holiday. But the nightmare of your car giving up halfway to your destination could be made much less stressful with the right breakdown cover.
But there’s a world of difference between car breakdown providers. While the best has an average response time of just 40 minutes, some will leave you hanging around by the side of the road for hours. And, while the best could repair an average of 86% of the cars it dealt with, the worst could only fix 37%.
Find out how the AA, Green Flag, RAC and other popular providers compare, and discover the six best breakdown companies for 2018.
However, keep in mind that you may not always need to call out a breakdown service. If you’ve never changed or repaired a tyre before, it’s easier than you might think. Learn how to change a tyre yourself and keep a tyre repair kit in your car.
2. Make sure your car seat will protect your child
We don’t like to think about it, but sadly accidents do happen. So, make sure your child car seat is fitted properly before you set of – even the best can’t do its job of protecting your child if it’s not. Common mistakes include twisted seat belts, loose harnesses, Isofix points not being connected and seatbelts sitting incorrectly.
If you’re looking for a new seat, make sure you get one that will provide protection from both front and side-impact crashes. Our child car seat testing has uncovered a number of worryingly bad models over the years. These car seats just aren’t up to withstanding the forces of a crash.
We automatically make any car seat that scores 40% or less in our tests a Don’t Buy. Use our child car seat reviews to see which ones are Best Buys – and which put your little one at risk of serious injury.
3. Consider getting a dash cam
A growing number of drivers are enlisting the help of a dash cam to provide valuable evidence in the event of a crash. In a survey of around 2,500 motorists, Aviva found that more than one in four (27%) drivers currently use a dash cam on UK roads.
A good dash cam will capture crisp footage and protect you from false claims. Some insurers even offer discounts on their insurance premiums if you have one fitted.
Not all dash cams will serve their purpose, though. Some take sub-par recordings that won’t show what happened in a crash. Find out which ones provide clear and detailed footage, are easy to use and are simple to install, by reading our Best Buy dash cams reviews.
4. Choose a good car hire car company
Hiring a car for your trip? We’ve surveyed thousands of Which? members about the car hire companies they’ve used. Some provide clear information on extra charges, insurance and terms and conditions, and make the process of picking up and returning the car easy for you.
Others do the opposite – leaving you frustrated before you’ve even set off. Some even leave you waiting at the rental desk for more than half an hour before picking up your car – scuppering any plans you might have had to beat the traffic by setting off early. Discover the car hire companies recommended by Which?.
5. Slap on the sun cream
It may be rainy in places today, but tomorrow and the week ahead is set to be another scorcher, with temperatures in the high 20s. So take care of your skin by packing a Best Buy sun cream that lives up to its claims – we’ve sadly found ones that don’t.
Make sure you keep reapplying it across the day. Once-a-day-sun creams might sound super-convenient, especially when you’re setting off an a car journey and you don’t want to feel greasy or sticky. But, when we tested to see whether they would really protect you for the whole day, we found a shocking 75% decrease in sun protection after 6-8 hours. That’s the equivalent of your SPF30 plummeting to an SPF8.
If, in typical British fashion, the rain and thunder persists, pop a waterproof jacket into the boot of your car, too. Choose one that’s comfy, truly water resistant and rated highly by its wearers. Read our waterproof jacket brand reviews to find out which brands come out on top.