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Leaving for the Holidays? Here's What You Need to Know

If you plan to travel for Christmas and New Year's, check Patch's need-to-know list before you leave town.

Millions of Americans will be heading somewhere this holiday season.

According to AAA, 91.9 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the 2011-12 year-end holiday travel season (from Friday-Jan. 2), a 1.4 percent increase from last year. These are the second-highest projected travel figures for the past decade and represent nearly 30 percent of the total U.S. population.

If you plan to head out of West Bloomfield, here’s what you need to know before you go:

The weather: Partly sunny skies in West Bloomfield, snow expected out West

In and around West Bloomfield from Wednesday-Sunday, the National Weather Service is calling for partly sunny skies. On Wednesday, there’s an 80 percent chance of rain with highs near 40 degrees. However, temperatures will fall later in the week with lows in the mid-20s. The forecast calls for highs of 34 degrees on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Around Michigan, snow is a greater possibility. There’s a chance of snow all week in Traverse City, with highs in the mid-30’s. Christmas there is expected to be near 34 degrees with a slight chance of snow showers. In Grand Rapids, there’s a slight chance of snow showers Thursday night; Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will be partly cloudy with highs near 35 degrees.

Heading out of Michigan and wondering whether it will snow on Christmas? According to weather.com, the White Christmas Forecast calls for a chance of snow throughout Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Wisconsin and parts of Minnesota. Snow is expected in the Pacific Northwest down through Wyoming, Colorado and Nevada, and in parts of the Northeast, particularly northern Maine.

The fuel report: Lowest West Bloomfield price Tuesday $3.23 a gallon

If you’re like the 83.6 million Americans driving this holiday season, you’ll want to know gas prices. According to AAA, the average price for a gallon of gas across the state is $3.19, down from $3.32 a week ago. The average price in Metro Detroit Tuesday is $3.20 a gallon.

Here are Tuesday’s prices at gas stations in and around West Bloomfield:

  • $3.23: , 7400 Farmington Rd. at 14 Mile Road
  • $3.26: , 7998 Pontiac Trl. at Orchard Lake Road
  • $3.37: , 6495 Orchard Lake Rd. at Maple Road

Watch what you drink at those holiday parties. Law enforcement officers in 26 counties throughout Michigan will be targeting impaired drivers throughout the holiday season. According to the Michigan Department of Transportation, 11 people were killed on Michigan’s roadways last Christmas and New Year's; four of those crashes involved alcohol.

For a list of planned patrol dates, times and locations, visit michigan.gov/ohsp.

Heading to the airport?

While care travel remains the most popular way to get around during the holidays, about 5.4 million travelers are expected to fly between Friday and Jan. 2, a 9.7 percent decrease from last year.

If you're flying this year but want to avoid problems you’ve had in the past, check out these tips from AARP:

  • Avoid flying at peak times: If your travel schedule is flexible, avoid flying two days before and after Christmas and New Year’s. Also, book flights at off-peak times.
  • Travel light: Don’t be weighed down with packages. Order your gifts online and send them directly to the recipients, or mail your packages ahead of time. If you do bring gifts with you on the plane, don’t wrap them — airlines have the right to open any wrapped package.
  • Don’t check your bags: Since Christmas is one of the most popular times to fly, the odds of losing your luggage is greater (think Meet the Parents). Consider shipping your luggage or condense it to a carry-on.

In addition, Detroit Metro Airport recommends filling out all luggage tags beforehand and calling the airport's 24-hour parking hotline, 800-642-1978, for up-to-the-minute parking information at the airport. To check weather and traffic at the airport, visit metroairport.com/traffic/.

Trash collection: don't worry about it

Since Christmas and New Year's occur on weekends, trash collection for the weeks leading up to and following these holidays will not be affected in West Bloomfield.

Tim Rath contributed to this report.

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