Holidaymakers planning to get away over the long weekend could be in for a slow journey as 18 million leisure journeys are expected between Friday and Monday.

Research by RAC Breakdown indicates the number of planned journeys is up about 1.8 million on the same weekend last year.

The worst day for traffic will be Friday August 28, with an estimated 5.6m trips, followed by 4.7m on Saturday, 3.7m on Sunday, and 4.4m on bank holiday Monday.

Traffic is expected to be worse than usual because people are likely to use the bank holiday weekend to get away in the UK, with many holidays abroad cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

RAC Breakdown spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “It’s been anything but a normal summer for so many reasons, but our research indicates that millions of us are still desperate to eke out the last of the summer and enjoy time away, whether that’s a day trip to see friends or family or a long weekend in a caravan or camping. In fact, it may even turn out to be busier on the roads than last year with many more people returning home this weekend after a staycation.

“Both official Government statistics and our own data from insurance customers show that weekend traffic is now back to pre-lockdown levels. The numbers of people breaking down are also around where we would expect them to be for late August. It’s clear therefore that despite the pandemic, the car has been a vital part of making sure many people have been able to enjoy the summer safely.

Melanie Clarke, Highways England’s customer service director, said: “We do everything we can to make journeys as smooth as possible and 97 per cent of the road network we manage will be free from roadworks over the bank holiday.

“Safety is our priority and we know from experience that breakdowns can easily be avoided if motorists carry out simple vehicle checks before setting off over this period. Let’s all enjoy summer safely.”

The RAC suggests travelling either early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the worst of the traffic.