August Bank Holiday Update 2023

Exceptionally busy bank holiday expected in the wake of a summer washout

  • More than 18 million trips planned this weekend
  • Twice as many drivers plan to travel compared to May bank holidays
  • Up to 20% of drivers cancelled day trips this summer

24 August 2023

Roads this August bank holiday are expected to be exceptionally busy as travellers try one last time to make up for a summer washout, with more than 18 million trips planned – the AA warns.

Last week, a Yonder survey of 12,903 AA members showed more than half of respondents (56%)* intended to travel at some point over the weekend, though they will stay much closer to home as mixed weather and Saturday’s Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) rail strike threatens to scupper plans for a seaside break.

The survey also found that 15% have cancelled day trips and 6% have cancelled weekend breaks or longer motoring holidays this summer because of the downpours.


Friday is predicted to be the busiest day on the roads with two-thirds (66%) of 18 to 24-year-olds taking to the roads, many of those in the South West – where beaches are easily accessible if the sun does choose to shine. Meanwhile, those least likely to travel are those aged over 65 with half (51%) saying that if they do drive somewhere, it’s likely to be somewhere local.

“Even if travelling locally, we recommend that drivers check their vehicle prior to setting off, as many of our callouts are for those that break down close to home.”
Nick Powell, AA patrol of the year

Those planning to travel further afield are football supporters, and though they’re unlikely to match the distances covered by England’s Lionesses during their magnificent World Cup campaign, they will notch up significant mileage, particularly travelling Preston fans, who will each make a 502.6-mile round trip to watch their team take on Swansea. Meanwhile, Fulham fans have the shortest Premier League trip as they make the relatively short jaunt to Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium with a round-trip of just 22 miles.

Nick Powell, AA patrol of the year, said: ”Drivers hoping to make the most of the Bank Holiday weekend are advised to use the AA Route Planner to check for delays, as many local roads are likely to be busier than usual with rail strikes likely to see more travellers take to the roads.

“Even if travelling locally, we recommend that drivers check their vehicle prior to setting off, as many of our callouts are for those that break down close to home. In addition to your vehicle checks, we recommend checking that you have adequate breakdown cover in place – this is normally a good time to take advantage of any late summer special offers. Drivers can also find lots of tips for summer driving on our website.”

The potential for a sodden summer holiday is firmly in the psyche of the British traveller and this stands out in the relatively small differences between areas of the UK. At worst, 5% of drivers said they cancelled weekend breaks (North East, North West, Yorkshire/Humberside and West Midlands) compared to the 4% average and a 3% best result in eastern England.

Likewise, longer summer holidays by car were rained off among 4% of motorists in the North East versus 1% in the East of England and the same in Scotland.

What is noticeable is that cancellation rates almost doubled among car owners most likely to have families – 7% for weekend breaks in the 25-34 and 35-44 age groups, and 4% for longer holidays in the 25-34 age group. The prospect of trying to keep the kids happy out of the rain seems to have proved too daunting for many.

*Yonder received 12,903 responses from AA members to its online poll between the 11th to 21st August 2023. Yonder is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.