Eric Andre Talks Road Trips, Airplane Sleep Aids, and Traveling as a Germaphobe

The actor and comedian shares some of the tricks and tools he uses to navigate travel.

Design by Manali Doshi for Thrillist
Design by Manali Doshi 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, actor, comedian, author, and frequent flier Eric Andre tells Brad Japhe about his globetrotting adventures, divulges some of the tools he uses to navigate the challenges of commercial aviation, and shares the items he could never travel without—including a very pricy travel snack.

Andre might have scored a number one hit on Netflix for his irreverent hidden camera comedy film, Bad Trip. But follow his tips, and you can expect nothing but the best trip—no joke.

You only live once, right? And there’s a whole big, beautiful world out there. You gotta see it. Every time you travel you learn something new. The news only shows you everything that’s wrong with the world—travel restores my faith in humanity and slakes my sense of curiosity and fascination.

For travel inspiration, I tend to rely heavily on my friends and their recommendations, but it ends up being a combination of things: If I read an article about an interesting place; if I know someone whose parents are from an interesting place; if I see some place that everybody’s posting about on Instagram, some place that I’ve never heard of that’s especially photogenic. I love travel shows—I’m obsessed with Bourdain, and I love Dark Tourist and Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia.

I explored several parts of Africa over the summer—it’s so vast and so multicultural and I always felt safe. God, it was really emotional and breathtaking. We learned about the slave trade and saw the actual dungeons that they kept the slaves in. You could see every episode of Roots and read the entire Western Civ 1 and 2 syllabuses and nothing will prepare you for stuff like that.

I also took in the intense beauty, the diverse array of different cultures. I barely scratched the surface. I want to go to Kenya, Gabon, Namibia, and South Africa.

I’ve also seen plenty of this country. As director Kitao Sakurai, the love of my life, and I were writing Bad Trip, someone suggested that we actually go on a cross-country road trip to research the role. We went from LA to New York over eight days. We did acid and got lost in the Rocky Mountains. We were trying to get to a place to camp by sunset, but we ended up setting up our tent in the middle of the night. It was freezing, and turns out it was grizzly bear season. So that was a terrible idea.

We camped in Nebraska. We did the Grand Canyon. Cleveland was underrated. We had a record-scratch moment in the middle of Pennsylvania, walking into a roadhouse where we were the only people of color. It was very much like, “You ain’t from around here!”

Chicago is one of my favorite cities in the country, but between the Rocky Mountains and there it’s a bit flat. And it goes on for super long… all those states are square shaped.

Now, I really want to go to Papua New Guinea. Maybe because it’s just fun to say. Try it sometime.

Rapid fire

Window, middle, or aisle seat?

Window if it’s a super long flight, but if I’m going to be awake for most of the flight and want to pee every five seconds, I’ll do aisle.

Pack light or overpack?

I aspire to pack light, but I always pack way too much. And then I buy a bunch of shit and need to buy another suitcase. It’s stupid.

Favorite way to pass time on a plane?

I love traveling, but I hate flying. I used to drink my brains out. One time I drank so much, I remember waking up and knocking my Sprite down some lady’s back. I was like, “Oh my god, I’m sooo sorry!” then immediately passed out again. I ultimately woke up at the place I was staying in South Carolina. I knew I had a connecting flight in North Carolina, coming from LA, but I didn't even remember it. At first, I was so thankful that I had gotten the direct flight from Los Angeles to Charleston. Then somebody reminded me that there is no direct flight from Los Angeles to Charleston—which means I made it through an airport in North Carolina essentially on autopilot. I must have been walking around like a really high-functioning zombie.

What is your biggest travel fear?

One time, we took a little propeller plane from Denver to Aspen through a snowstorm. It was the worst turbulence I’ve experienced in my life, and I actually thought I was going to die. I was praying to gods I didn’t believe in.

Best tip for fighting jet lag

Sunlight is everything—resetting your circadian rhythm. Jet lag over the Pacific Ocean, to Australia or Japan or Thailand, is somehow not that bad. But the eight-hour shift to the UK or Europe, it fucks me up in a specific way.

If you’re there for work and you have to get on a schedule—sunlight, sunlight, sunlight, and don’t drink too much coffee. But over the summer, I was like, fuck it—I’m just going to stay up all night partying. Sleep when I sleep, and stay up when I stay up. Why get on a rhythm if I’m not there for work? I threw caution to the wind, and getting rid of the anxiety about jet lag actually helped my jet lag.

Favorite travel snack

My friend is the biggest natural wine snob in the world. He goes, in a heavy French accent, “Champagne is bullshit, brother. It is absolutely disgusting. The only one worth putting in your mouth is Jacques Sellose.” Do you know where I can get my hands on a bottle? They ain’t cheap, brother.

Go-to drink order on a plane

I used to hit a bunch of gin and tonics every time I flew. Then I told my doctor I was doing that and they were like, “Uhh... that’s incredibly bad for you.” I used to do rum and Cokes, but you don’t have too many options. I can take cheap gin, but I can’t do cheap rum—there’s no life to it. Anyhow, I’m taking a break from drinking right now, so not that. I’m taking 90 days off.

Must-have travel items

Bliss sleep mask

I gotta have a sleep mask. Doesn’t have to be any brand in particular, as long as it’s a black out one that’s pretty good.

Manos Soap Co hand sanitizer
Manos Soap Co

I’m a germaphobe, so I travel with unreasonable amounts of hand sanitizer. In Curb Your Enthusiasm, when Larry David says to Al Brooks, “You’re a COVID hoarder!” that’s me. I’m the COVID hoarder.

Chamomile Sleep Aid

I like the chamomile homeopathic stuff because it’s non-habit-forming. But I’ll take Benadryl if I need to, or Zzzquil. I’ve gotten hooked on that stuff. 

Apple AirPods Max

I like the over-ear—they block out all that shit, tough guy. The in-ear audio is not as good. And then if you drop it on the floor and cram the filth back into your ear, it’s disgusting.

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Brad Japhe is a contributor for Thrillist.