Travel

Roy Wood Jr. Talks Touring, Travel Tech, and Why He Overpacks

The actor and comedian explores how to feel at home on the road.

Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist / Photo by Jim McCambridge
Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist / Photo by Jim McCambridge
Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist / Photo by Jim McCambridge

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, comedian, actor, and recent Daily Show alum Roy Wood Jr. tells Sam Eifling about hitting the road with fellow funnyman Jordan Klepper, how he packs for a trip, and ways to stay on track when dealing with a dreaded flight delay.For the first nine years of my career, I was on the road 45 to 50 weeks a year. Clubs, bars, Elks Lodges, whatever. Is there a microphone and money? I’ll see you there, sir, thanks for booking me. I put 300,000 miles on my first car. I drove that Ford Focus literally until the wheels fell off. Then I got a Kia Sorento and drove that one 250,000 miles. When I rent, I don’t accept cars with out-of-state plates. That’s the one thing that makes me uncomfortable and more susceptible to getting pulled over. I want a rental car with the tags of the state I’m driving in, just in case.

It’s inevitable that when you perform, you’re going to learn every nook and cranny as you come back to places. I can, by memory, go to a barbershop in Charleston, West Virginia, that used to be my spot to get a haircut when I was north of Tennessee. I can’t name the barbershop, but I can tell you the exit. My favorite place in a new town is always the mall. Malls are agnostic of demographics; everybody goes. On the road, I used to write material in mall food courts-get my Panda Express and people watch. So then I could go on stage and make references to what I saw, and the audience would go, “Wow, he really knows us.”

Now that I have a son and he’s old enough to miss me, I take fewer trips. But I still feel most at home on the road. To me, true calm is a hotel room in a strange place. I can travel more often now that I’m not on The Daily Show anymore. The past few months I’ve been on a tour with Jordan Klepper, another ex-Daily Show correspondent, that we call America for the Last Time. We phoned each other up-“Hey, do you want to go goof off in a couple of cities?”

If I’m flying somewhere, I take the first flight out. The plane is already there; you’re not waiting on aircraft to come in. The crew is for sure rested. On the day of a performance, taking the first flight out gives me more contingency options if there are issues. That includes jumping to another carrier. I’ve been on a plane that was delayed, actively buying a ticket for another carrier because I knew they were about to deplane us. While everybody else is running and crying and screaming to customer service, I get to the gig.

Rapid fire

Window, middle, or aisle seat?

Window, so I can lean and get better rest. I’m a leaner when I sleep, and I don’t like leaning on other people, or leaning forward. I don’t believe in reclining my seat, either.

Pack light or overpack?

I don’t like not having stuff. I want to be ready for different scenarios. I’m the guy who’s going to bring a carry-on bag with the zipper expander activated, and I have my backpack stuffed to the brim.

Favorite way to pass time on a plane

If I’m not asleep, I’m on a laptop or on my Nintendo Switch. I don’t know who these people are who can just sit on a plane with no headphones, no TVs, no nothing.

Biggest travel fear

It’s not that I’m scared of a plane crash. I’m scared of dying in a plane crash where there’s someone more famous than me on the plane and then I don’t get mentioned in the article. If a plane goes down, I don’t want to be second billing. The worst would be if Klepper and I died in a plane crash and the headline just said “former Daily Show correspondents.”

Best tip for fighting jet lag

Don’t take the nap when you land. Wait it out and go to bed at the right time, or maybe an hour early. You’ve got to reset your clock.

Favorite travel snack

I like the Planters M&M’s trail mix where it’s just nuts and chocolate and raisins. And Smartfood popcorn. Sweet and salty.

Go-to drink order on a plane

If anything, I might have a Coke with ice. I don’t understand people on planes trying to order Long Island Iced Teas. No part of flight attendant training is bartending, right?

Must-have travel items

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Sam Eifling is a former Thrillist editor, and has reported or edited for such reputable publications as the Associated Press, The New Republic, Deadspin, The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Miami Herald, the Oxford American, the Arkansas Times, ESPN, Popular ScienceSports Illustrated, Slate, Grantland, Pacific Standard, and New Times Broward-Palm Beach.

Travel

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: Booking.com 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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