Nicole Byer Talks Airport Fashion, In-Flight Movies, and Finding a Good Travel Buddy

The comedian, actor, and writer reveals her secrets for seamless travel experiences.

Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist
Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist
Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist

Have you ever wondered how celebrities pack for vacation? What go-to snacks are tucked away in famous people’s carry-ons? Or what beauty products they swear by to combat jet-lagged skin? Wander Musts takes up residence behind the security X-ray machine to give you an inside look at celebrities’ travel tips, tricks, and can’t-live-without essentials.

In this installment, prolific comedian, actor, writer, and television host of Nailed It! acclaim Nicole Byer tells Joe Erbentraut about her latest project-a new virtual course for Destination Canadaand shares what she always packs when she’s traveling.I love traveling. I truly love seeing the world. Every time I come back to LA or New York, I’m like, oh, we’re not living right. It is better overseas, but I love it here. I don’t want people to be like, she hates America. America’s great.

My first trip that I remember was driving to Chicago from New Jersey and it just took so long. I was in a minivan with my parents and my sister like, “How can we leave? How can we get out of this? Why didn’t we do something else?” It was too long to be in a car. I will do a road trip now. I just did a road trip from Chicago to Milwaukee. That was fun. I think I could do two or three hours max. Anything else is like, let’s get on a plane. Are we living in the Oregon Trail era? No.

As an adult, I truly think about budget and how much I want to spend on a flight and a hotel. I’m not just going to any old place with any old person. I’ve got to know if we work together well. I travel a lot with my best friend Sasheer because we travel really well together. She knows I wake up late. I know she wakes up early. I know she needs her breakfast in the morning. So it’s like, you go get your breakfast, I will sleep in. We will reconnect at noon and decide what we’re doing. Either we have plans or we’re flying by the seat of our pants.

I did videos called the Canadian Crash Course for Destination Canada. We’re trying to get Americans and non-Canadians to Canada during the winter because you can do fun things like skiing or staying inside and drinking hot cocoa. And there’s also a chance to enter to win a roundtrip flight to Canada. I like Canada. I like Vancouver. I like Edmonton. It’s a really beautiful country. And then if you go to Quebec, they speak French at you!

Rapid fire

Window, middle, or aisle seat?

Window. Whoever says middle is a psychopath, like a true, blue sick person.

Pack light or overpack?

I pack light and I also overpack. One time we did three days in Vegas, but I packed exactly three outfits, not thinking about how hot it was because it was the dead of summer, or how you want to look nice for dinner and then during the day you just wear shorts or whatever.

When I went to Greece, I under- and overpacked. I packed too many fancy skirts and dresses for dinners and we didn’t go to that many fancy dinners. It was more beach stuff. And then when I went to Amsterdam, I didn’t have enough jeans. And Amsterdam doesn’t have no fat people, so there was no jeans to be bought. So cut to me Febreezing my pants being like, oh, I hope nobody says Nicole’s funky.

Also, if I’m gone for seven days, I will pack 14 pairs of underwear. I truly pack like I’m going to shit myself every day. It’s never happened. I never wear all of them, but I’m always like, I don’t know, something might happen.

Favorite way to pass time on a plane

Lately it’s just been action movies. I just watched the newest Lara Croft movie that nobody talked about and I was like, well, this is pretty good. I don’t know why we’re not talking about this. This girl was great. I just rewatched the original The Fast and the Furious. It’s a perfect, perfect movie. I think all of them are really fun. And I just rewatched Fast X on a plane, which is the latest in the Fast saga.

Biggest travel fear

I don’t know if I have a big travel fear because if I get kidnapped, what a fun story. If the plane crashes, I know I’ll survive. If a flight gets canceled, there’s another flight. I dunno. I guess I’m afraid that whoever I’m with is going to be a sourpuss and it’s going to suck?

I don’t understand people who are afraid of planes, because so many planes fly every day. Sure, a plane once disappeared from the sky, but how often does that happen? And if you disappear, guess what? You’re in the tenth dimension. You get to start a new life.

Best tip for fighting jet lag

My best tip for fighting jet lag is to stay awake. If you land at six or something, or three, don’t take a nap; stay awake for as long as you can, until you normally go to bed. And then, hopefully, in the eight or 10 hours you sleep, your body will refigure stuff out.

Favorite travel snack

Biscoff cookies. I’m a Delta Diamond girl.

Go-to drink order on a plane

Vodka soda, put my hoodie over my head, and go to sleep.

Must-have travel items

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Joe Erbentraut is the Editorial Director of News at Thrillist. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin’s School of Journalism and his writing and editing has also been featured in Fodor’s, the Village Voice, HuffPost, and Chicagoist. Joe is obsessed with soup, specifically when it involves lentils. Follow Joe on Twitter.


Ditch your Phone for ‘Dome Life’ in this Pastoral Paradise Outside Port Macquarie 

A responsible, sustainable travel choice for escaping big city life for a few days.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

The urge to get as far away as possible from the incessant noise and pressures of ‘big city life’ has witnessed increasingly more of us turn to off-grid adventures for our holidays: polled travellers at the start of 2023 and 55% of us wanted to spend our holidays ‘off-grid’.  Achieving total disconnection from the unyielding demands of our digitised lives via some kind of off-grid nature time—soft or adventurous—is positioned not only as a holiday but, indeed, a necessity for our mental health. 

Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, an accommodation collection of geodesic domes dotted across a lush rural property in Greater Port Macquarie (a few hours’ drive from Sydney, NSW), offers a travel experience that is truly ‘off-grid’. In the figurative ‘wellness travel’ sense of the word, and literally, they run on their own independent power supply—bolstered by solar—and rely not on the town grid. 

Ten minutes before you arrive at the gates for a stay at Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, your phone goes into ‘SOS ONLY’. Apple Maps gives up, and you’re pushed out of your comfort zone, driving down unsealed roads in the dark, dodging dozens of dozing cows. Then, you must ditch your car altogether and hoist yourself into an open-air, all-terrain 4WD with gargantuan wheels. It’s great fun being driven through muddy gullies in this buggy; you feel like Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park.  As your buggy pulls in front of your personal Nature Dome, it’s not far off that “Welcome…to Jurassic Park” jaw-dropping moment—your futuristic-looking home is completely engulfed by thriving native bushland; beyond the outdoor campfire lie expansive hills and valleys of green farmland, dotted with sheep and trees. You’re almost waiting to see a roaming brachiosaurus glide past, munching on a towering gum tree…instead, a few inquisitive llamas trot past your Dome to check out their new visitor. 

To fully capture the awe of inhabiting a geodesic dome for a few days, a little history of these futuristic-looking spherical structures helps. Consisting of interlocking triangular skeletal struts supported by (often transparent) light walls, geodesic domes were developed in the 20th century by American engineer and architect R. Buckminster Fuller, and were used for arenas. Smaller incarnations have evolved into a ‘future-proof’ form of modern housing: domes are able to withstand harsh elements due to the stability provided by the durable materials of their construction and their large surface area to volume ratio (which helps minimize wind impact and prevents the structure from collapsing). As housing, they’re also hugely energy efficient – their curved shape helps to conserve heat and reduce energy costs, making them less susceptible to temperature changes outside. The ample light let in by their panels further reduces the need for artificial power. 

Due to their low environmental impact, they’re an ideal sustainable travel choice. Of course, Tom’s Creek Nature Domes’ owner-operators, Cardia and Lee Forsyth, know all this, which is why they have set up their one-of-a-kind Nature Domes experience for the modern traveller. It’s also no surprise to learn that owner Lee is an electrical engineer—experienced in renewable energy—and that he designed the whole set-up. As well as the off-grid power supply, rainwater tanks are used, and the outdoor hot tub is heated by a wood fire—your campfire heats up your tub water via a large metal coil. Like most places in regional Australia, the nights get cold – but rather than blast a heater, the Domes provide you with hot water bottles, warm blankets, lush robes and heavy curtains to ward off the chill.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

You’ll need to be self-sufficient during your stay at the Domes, bringing your own food. Support local businesses and stock up in the town of Wauchope on your drive-in (and grab some pastries and coffee at Baked Culture while you’re at it). There’s a stovetop, fridge (stocked as per a mini bar), BBQs, lanterns and mozzie coils, and you can even order DIY S’More packs for fireside fun. The interiors of the Domes have a cosy, stylish fit-out, with a modern bathroom (and a proper flushing toilet—none of that drop bush toilet stuff). As there’s no mobile reception, pack a good book or make the most of treasures that lie waiting to be discovered at every turn: a bed chest full of board games, a cupboard crammed with retro DVDs, a stargazing telescope (the skies are ablaze come night time). Many of these activities are ideal for couples, but there’s plenty on offer for solo travellers, such as yoga mats, locally-made face masks and bath bombs for hot tub soaks. 

It’s these thoughtful human touches that reinforce the benefit of making a responsible travel choice by booking local and giving your money to a tourism operator in the Greater Port Macquarie Region, such as Tom’s Creek Nature Domes. The owners are still working on the property following the setbacks of COVID-19, and flooding in the region —a new series of Domes designed with families and groups in mind is under construction, along with an open-air, barn-style dining hall and garden stage. Once ready, the venue will be ideal for wedding celebrations, with wedding parties able to book out the property. They’ve already got one couple—who honeymooned at the Domes—ready and waiting. Just need to train up the llamas for ring-bearer duties! 

An abundance of favourite moments come to mind from my two-night stay at Tom’s Creek: sipping champagne and gourmet picnicking at the top of a hill on a giant swing under a tree, with a bird’s eye view of the entire property (the ‘Mountain Top picnic’ is a must-do activity add on during your stay), lying on a deckchair at night wrapped in a blanket gazing up at starry constellations and eating hot melted marshmallows, to revelling in the joys of travellers before me, scrawled on notes in a jar of wishes left by the telescope (you’re encouraged to write your own to add to the jar). But I’ll leave you with a gratitude journal entry I made while staying there. I will preface this by saying that I don’t actually keep a gratitude journal, but Tom’s Creek Nature Domes is just the kind of place that makes you want to start one. And so, waking up on my second morning at Tom’s —lacking any 4G bars to facilitate my bad habit of a morning Instagram scroll—I finally opened up a notebook and made my first journal entry:

‘I am grateful to wake up after a deep sleep and breathe in the biggest breaths of this clean air, purified by nature and scented with eucalyptus and rain. I am grateful for this steaming hot coffee brewed on a fire. I feel accomplished at having made myself. I am grateful for the skittish sheep that made me laugh as I enjoyed a long nature walk at dawn and the animated billy goats and friendly llamas overlooking my shoulder as I write this: agreeable company for any solo traveller. I’m grateful for total peace, absolute stillness.” 

Off-grid holiday status: unlocked.

Where: Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, Port Macquarie, 2001 Toms Creek Rd
Price: $450 per night, book at the Natura Domes website.

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