Getaway kicks into high gear: Airports are packed, traffic jams are building and trains are on strike as Britons rush abroad for the summer

  • Today is Britain’s ‘busiest travel day’ with many families going on holiday

Britons are facing a chaotic start to their summer getaways on the ‘busiest day on travel’, hit by train strikes, traffic jams and crowded airports.

Around two million people are about to go on holiday abroad today, and many are deciding to endure the 41% price hike on some of Europe’s most popular beaches.

Motorists on the UK’s busiest motorway, the M25, face a long queue this morning after a crash yesterday near Dartford Crossing saw part of the road closed before reopening at 7am.

Over the weekend, 12.6 million car journeys will be made for day trips or holidays, the RAC said, as schools in England and Wales wrap up for the summer, with long queues in some parts of the country.

Hundreds of thousands of passengers will depart from Heathrow Airport and Gatwick, another 200,000 will depart from Manchester and 71,000 from Bristol.

DOVER: Traffic piles up in the port of Dover, Kent, this morning as the busy summer travel period begins

SUSSEX: Passengers queue for check-in at a busy Gatwick airport this morning
BRISTOL: Passengers fill Bristol Airport, facing long queues and check-in counters
The port of Dover had already seen 9,986 passengers pass by at 8am this morning

Roads will also be hit by heavy showers today, with a risk of thunderstorms on Sunday, the Met Office has warned.

Meanwhile, those traveling from the port of Dover have been warned it could take up to two and a half hours to clear border controls during peak hours.

Thousands of railway workers must also lower their tools, members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union marching on a long-standing dispute over wages, jobs and conditions.

Passenger volumes are finally expected to return to 2019 levels this summer – with some ports exceeding that figure – after the last three were disrupted by the Covid pandemic.

Border Force expects to see more than 34 million air arrivals pass through UK passport control over the next few months.

The rising number of holidaymakers comes as beach holidays in Europe have been hit by higher prices compared to last summer due to inflation.

The cost of tourist staples such as mals, drinks and beach items has risen year on year in 16 destinations analyzed by the Post Office Family Holiday Report.

Italy’s Puglia was the only place where prices for British visitors fell, with a drop of 10.3%.

MANCHESTER: Bored holidaymakers queue to check in at Manchester Airport this morning
DOVER: Winding queues are building up due to border checks carried out this morning
SUSSEX: As schools separate for the summer, many families are heading to the airport for a getaway

The highest annual increases are recorded in Sunny Beach, Bulgaria (up 41%), Marmaris, Turkey (up 33.3%) and Funchal, Madeira (up 24.1%).

Despite the increases, Marmaris and Sunny Beach were among the three lowest priced destinations, alongside the Algarve in Portugal.

The report revealed that prices in Marmaris have doubled year on year due to inflation and unstable economy.

Laura Plunkett, travel money manager at the Post Office, said: ‘Although the pound is at its highest level in 2023 against European currencies, inflation has hit local prices overseas just as it has in the UK.

“That means families should expect to pay more for meals, drinks and other tourist items at most resorts.

“Ironically, two of the cheapest destinations we studied – Turkey and Bulgaria – saw the biggest increases.

“However, these are still places where bargain hunters will get the most bang for their buck.”

Richard Sofer, commercial director at Tui UK and Ireland, who contributed to the report, said: “Holidays will always be a priority for our customers, but value for money is clearly more important than ever.

“Despite the rising cost of living, many customers are unwilling to sacrifice their precious annual getaway and we have seen a trend among customers opting for more affordable destinations, including Bulgaria and Turkey, with Greece and the Balearics also being a favourite.

“We are also seeing some customers reducing their vacations slightly, such as reducing the length of the vacation from 14 nights to 7, 10 or 11 nights.”

For those holidaying in the UK, the first two weeks of the holiday will be dire, but there are signs that during the second week of August the weather could start to calm down, the Met Office said.

The UK is experiencing bad weather due to the position of a jet stream – which is also pushing high pressure south where parts of Europe are experiencing a heat wave.

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