1.5m extra UK drivers set to head to Europe this summer

More than 1.5 million additional holidaymakers plan to drive to Europe this summer, according to new research.

Every year more than 12m people drive to the Continent from the UK and despite lockdown affecting many people’s holiday plans, the RAC study estimates that around 40 per cent of these journeys will take place over the summer.

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With travel restrictions easing and people looking for alternatives to flying, its poll of drivers found an estimated five million intend to visit Europe by car this summer, with 1.6m planning to do so for the first time instead of flying.

The change represents a 30 per cent increase in the number of people planning to drive to Europe as travel corridors allow relatively free movement around the Continent by road.

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RAC Europe spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “With agreements now in place between the UK and other countries permitting travel without the need to quarantine, people are now free to go away on holiday before the end of the summer. Flying, however, appears to be seen as a less attractive option this year. This in turn seems to have sparked a desire in people to drive to mainland Europe under their own steam, with many planning to do so for the first time.

“In many ways, opting to take the car makes a lot of sense – those that do so have a safe space of their own when travelling, with zero or minimal contact needed with other people when crossing borders, while those staying in a caravan or tent also have the reassurance that they have a holiday base which is as safe an environment as possible. Anyone driving also enjoys the flexibility that comes from having their own form of transport for getting about – and is ideal for seeking out places far from the crowds.

“With so many people expected to be taking staycations this summer due to a combination of a greatly reduced flights schedule, together with a reticence to fly in busy cabins in close proximity to others, this year is clearly being seen as the ideal time to explore Europe by car. The only thing drivers will need to bear in mind is the more limited availability of ferry and Eurotunnel tickets.”

In total, 32 per cent planned to travel to Europe by road or air this summer, with the remaining 68 per cent either choosing to holiday in the UK, travel beyond Europe or take no holiday at all.