Once upon a time your family and friends lived in the same town and they were seldom further than a walk or a bus ride away.

In modern times family members and friends leave the coop and settle elsewhere.

But as Christmas is supposed to be the time when we get together a bit of travel is necessary.

Alas, everyone else has the same intention meaning clogged roads and packed out trains.

However, if you shrewdly time your journey your may be awarded with a fairly clear run rather than hours of slow travel and discomfort.

The RAC have issued some travel advice on the best and worst times to make the journey.

And as there's expected to be 4.7m journeys in the UK by the end of Christmas Eve so it's best to choose your time wisely.


M62 traffic queues on the eastbound carriagway

The RAC has dubbed Friday, December 22 ‘Frantic Friday’ as the last of the year’s commuter traffic clashes with people travelling to visit family and friends.

A survey of its drivers predicted there will be 1.25m leisure trips made on the roads on Friday, compared to 1.59 million on Saturday, reports the Cambridge News.

Christmas Eve will see the leisure traffic peak as 1.87m drivers attempt their festive getaways but Friday is still earmarked to be the most congested due to the addition of commuter traffic.

But all this will be eclipsed by the 5.3m predicted journeys on Boxing Day as people get out to the sales.

The RAC says the anticipated busiest times to travel on the roads are Friday, December 22 between 4pm and 8pm; Sunday, December 24 between 10am and 2pm; and Tuesday, December 26 between 10am and 2pm.

RAC traffic spokesman Rod Dennis said: "The roads are traditionally busy in the run-up to Christmas , especially when you have commuters, commercial and leisure traffic all competing for space.

"Things tend to get worse on the last working day before Christmas, with ‘Frantic Friday’ this year falling on the 22 December – we strongly urge drivers planning long journeys to avoid this day if they possibly can.

"We’re then expecting pre-Christmas leisure trips to peak on Christmas Eve, with getaway traffic combining with the inevitable dashes to the shops for last-minute Christmas presents."

A spokesman for the AA told the News that 39% of its members in the east of England were planning to make a journey of 20 miles or more on Friday.

This figure dropped to 34% on Saturday and 27% on Christmas Eve.

Highways England announced yesterday (December 18) it would lift around 400 miles of roadworks across England, leaving almost 99 per cent of motorways and strategic A roads roadworks-free in time for Christmas.

All roadworks will be lifted or completed by 6am on December 22 until just after midnight on January 2.


First TransPennine Express train

The Christmas and New Year period is traditionally the time when a large amount of engineering and improvement work takes place on the railway network.

December 27 - The 23:06 Huddersfield to Manchester Victoria service will terminate at Stalybridge. A bus will be provided from Stalybridge to Manchester Victoria.

December 27 to 29 - Network Rail are carrying out engineering work between between Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge, closing the line. The 22:33 Hull to Manchester Victoria service will be diverted to terminate at Manchester Piccadilly.

January 1 to 4 - Network Rail are carrying out engineering work between Bradford Interchange and Leeds, closing the line. The 23:21 Manchester Victoria to Leeds will be diverted and arrive in to Leeds later than normal at 01:22.

January 2 to 5 - Network Rail are carrying out engineering work between York and Leeds, closing some lines. The 05:21 York to Manchester Airport service will be re-timed and depart York earlier than normal at 05:10.

For information on changes to regular train times visit the National Rail Enquiries website