As schools break up for the Christmas holidays, the AA estimates that around 18 million cars will be taken out onto UK roads as people travel to see friends and relatives over the festive period. The busiest days are expected to be Thursday 22 and Friday 23 December. A London Underground workers’ strike announced for Boxing Day is likely to cause problems in the capital.

Some 4.25 million people are expected to travel to a foreign country for the festive period. Heathrow Airport will be the busiest hub with around 1.7million travellers passing through its doors between 16 December and 3 January. Gatwick will see 750,000 people over the same period, 210,000 will use Luton, and 425,000 will fly out of Stansted.

The destinations most popular with passengers leaving the country from Heathrow are Paris, Amsterdam, Dublin, Dubai and New York. According to the Association of British Travel Agents, the ski resorts of Italy, Switzerland, Austria and France have remained popular this year with holidaymakers.

Some rail passengers will find themselves having to get onto replacement bus services. However, rail firms have promised that the number of replacement services will be around half what they were last Christmas.

Patrolman of the year with the AA, Keith Millar, said that the weather so far this winter has not been as bad as last years storms, adding that it was still expected to be unsettled. He warned drivers to be careful, asking them to check traffic and weather reports before leaving the house. The roads are also likely to get quite congested at the busiest times.