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2m Britons to join summer getaway
9:01am Wednesday 23rd July 2014 in © Press Association 2014
More than two million Britons will head overseas this weekend as the summer holiday getaway gathers pace.
Spain is the number one destination for those hitting continental hotspots, according to travel organisation Abta.
Bookings to Greece and Turkey have also been going well, while for those travelling further afield Dubai, Mexico and Florida are among the most popular destinations.
The recent hot weather has also boosted the numbers taking last-minute trips in the UK, while short-haul favourites include Barcelona, Amsterdam, Rome and Paris.
In south-east England, around 450,000 passengers will be departing from Heathrow this weekend, 295,000 from Gatwick, 140,000 from Stansted and 79,000 from Luton.
More than 100,000 will be leaving from Scottish airports with 50,000 from Glasgow alone, while 162,000 are due to depart from Manchester, 70,000 from Birmingham, 45,000 from Bristol and 37,000 from East Midlands airport.
Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: "This weekend sees the start of the main holiday exodus. While a favourable exchange rate in many destinations will increase the appeal of overseas holidays, we also expect the warm summer weather we've recently experienced to make the UK popular for late bookers."
Transport information company Inrix said the first major jams of the school holiday period will be on Friday, with the five Saturdays that follow that the most congested days.
Inrix said hour-long journeys on Friday could take up to 90 minutes.
Research from Kwik-Fit shows that British families will rack up a total of 15.7 billion miles in their own cars during holidays this year.
Motorists using their vehicle for trips will drive an average of 1,082 miles each. The vast majority of these trips will be within the UK, with 13.2 million cars being used for domestic holidays. Also, 2.2 million cars will head to France, 550,000 to Germany, 520,000 to Spain and 390,000 to Italy.
For those holidaying in Britain, the most popular places to visit are the south-west of England (28%), the south coast (21%), Wales (20%) and Scotland (19%). The Lake District (16%), Yorkshire Dales (14%) and Midlands (13%) also scored highly.
Motorists in the West Midlands plan to travel the greatest distance in their own cars, with expected average mileage of 1,322 miles. Welsh drivers plan to stay closer to home with the lowest average distance at 722 miles.
Holiday carrier Thomson Airways is flying more than 70,000 passengers off on summer breaks this weekend, with tour operators Thomson and First Choice due to take one million people away on trips this summer.
Majorca, Dalaman in Turkey and Mexico are among the most popular destinations this summer, while bookings to Jamaica and Mauritius have been going well.
Over the coming weeks, Thomson Airways will make more than 6,200 round trips to summer holiday destinations, while Thomson's four cruise ships will take 50,000 passengers to 128 ports of call.
For those staying at home, the West Coast Main Line - a key London to Scotland train route - will have sections closed on three separate periods in August while work goes on at Watford in Hertfordshire.
The closures, which will have a significant impact on travellers including those on London Midland services, are on August 9-11 August 16-18 and August 23-26. The last of the three is over the August bank holiday weekend.
Also, work going on at London Bridge station - a main London terminal - will mean that between Saturday August 23 and Sunday, August 31, part of London Bridge station will be closed and no First Capital Connect or Southern services will be calling there. Southeastern services will be able to call as normal.
This will also affect Southern services to and from Victoria station in London, including the Gatwick Express, and some other Southern routes, where an alternative timetable is running on most routes.
Engineering work means that there will be no Heathrow Express services on Saturday August 23.