While the holiday travel period extends from Saturday through Jan. 1, as defined by AAA, the number of travelers this year is expected to be similar to last year's numbers.
AAA says 94.5 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the period. That's only 0.6 percent more people than traveled last year, but enough, the agency notes, to keep intact an upward trend that we've seen the past four holiday seasons.
The automobile is the favored mode of travel during the holiday season, according to AAA, with 85.8 million people - or 91 percent - going by auto. That represents an increase of just under 1 percent from last year, the agency notes.
Traveling in the winter months always holds a certain amount of unpredictability. Will the weather hold out? If the roads get bad, will the other drivers on the road be smart enough to reduce their speed? Hours-long road closures due to bad weather aren't uncommon in the winter months.
For travelers - and this goes for those taking planes or other modes of transportation as well as drivers - check the local weather report, the weather report along your route and the weather report at your destination. The skies in Maryland may be sunny and the temperatures warm, but there may be snow piling up at your destination, or somewhere along the way, that would cause you delays.
For drivers, it doesn't hurt to throw some blankets in the trunk along with the emergency kits, and some non-perishable food or snacks as well. And if you are traveling a long distance, don't wait until your tank is almost empty before filling up. If you get stranded, having gas in the auto and the ability to keep it running will ensure that you can keep warm.
The holidays also are known for many parties, and while more people these days heed the warnings about the dangers of drinking and driving, many others still don't. Be aware of the other drivers and how they are behaving.
The holidays are a time when we gather family and friends around us and find joy in the togetherness of the season. Here's wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday.