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Smooth Travels Overall at LAX

Editor’s Note: For the eighth consecutive year, Travelocity’s Thanksgiving Task Force is stationed at 10 of the nation’s top airports, relaying important travel information to holiday road warriors on Nov. 25-26, two of the busiest travel days of the year.

After two long (but oh-so-fun!) days of scouting the crowds at LAX for Travelocity’s Thanksgiving Task Force, it’s my turn to head through security and depart for my hometown – Dallas. Even though I live and work all-things-travel, this is the only time of year that I get to interact with travelers, security and airlines at the same time. As a travel editor, it’s a good thing to witness. It makes my work real. I’ve read the stats – AAA predicted a 7 percent decrease in air travelers and LAX said that 14 percent fewer travelers would fly through their airport. But I saw first hand that those stats were real. It was extremely quiet at LAX this week. With the exception of the morning rush that hit early today, it felt like a typical day at the airport.

I’ve been managing this project for six years now, and airport security and airlines almost always do a fantastic job managing the crowds. TSA rolled out the family-friendly security lanes, and airlines are making it easier for passengers to check-in online, making the entire process of getting to your gate go more smoothly.

According to Travelocity data, Wednesday was the second busiest day of the Thanksgiving holiday. Sunday is supposed to bring in the big crowds, so be prepared for a busier day.

Jennifer

My name: Jennifer Gaines, but my friends call me Gaines, Jenni-Dallas or just plain Jenn.

(Find me on Twitter @jenngaines)

Travel ambitions: It's my mission to visit each of the New 7 Wonders and to step foot on every continent before my next milestone birthday.

Greatest travel lesson learned: Find the local hangouts to experience the real, true culture of a place. During a trip to Europe, my friends and I spent several days with a French family in the small town of Vichy. We had a private party in their family-run creperie, feasting on cheese-stuffed crepes and sampling wine that we picked up in the Bordeaux region a few days earlier. Their English wasn’t much better than my French, which is limited to a few well-known phrases from Moulin Rouge and the question: Parlez-vous anglais? (I'm proud to say that I can spout this question off in several different languages, and luckily most Europeans do indeed speak English!) After a few bottles of wine, the language barrier was hardly noticeable (slurring actually sounds the same in French!), and we managed to swap stories about life in other places. What a slice of local flavor!

My most beloved place in the whole world is: My grandparents place in Texas. It’s a 10-acre oasis in between two sprawling cities: Dallas and Fort Worth. A creek runs through their enormous backyard, where Granddad built a deck over the water. The entire place is shrouded with all types of trees (mainly pecan), blocking the Texas sun in the summer. Dusk is the best time to sit on the deck, drink a glass of ice tea and watch baby raccoons from the spring litter surround their back porch as Gram feeds them bread (no lie!). There will be dozens of raccoons eating on any given night. In the fall, my family gathers in the courtyard in front of their house for an annual “weenie roast.” Granddad lights the bonfire, and we roast dogs and s'mores. Yes, y’all, we’re from Texas!

Favorite way to get around: Well, I’m not much of a driver. I get lost easily and my tires have never come across a curb they didn’t want to get to know a little better. But, I do enjoy cruising around and listening to music. That said, I much rather explore a place by foot (with my iPod in tow) for a more intimate encounter.

View that took my breath away: Coming from Texas (where the view is wide but there’s not much to see), scenes from my new home of San Francisco never fail to amaze me. The city is a pedestrian’s dream, but don’t forget to turn around and look behind you as you meander through its neighborhoods. You won’t realize it, but you’ll be at the tip-top of a hill and the ocean will suddenly seem to be at eye level. Take a drive through the Presidio and over the Golden Gate Bridge where even more stunning views await!

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