What W. Kamau Bell can’t travel without

Comedian and author W. Kamau Bell travels all over the country performing his standup show, “W. Kamau Bell Curve: Ending Racism in About an Hour.” He also hosts his own documentary television show, “United Shades of America” on CNN. 

Based in Oakland, California, he regularly flies to and from Los Angeles daily, or takes a red-eye to New York, spends the day working in the city, then takes an evening flight back to the West Coast.  

But he always tries to make it home in time to put his two daughters to bed.  

What he calls “my favorite flight in show business” is Oakland to Burbank. “Because they’re both super easy airports,” he said. “I have TSA Precheck and Clear — I have all the things, so I can fly like it’s the ‘70s. You can just get to the airport 20 minutes before and walk leisurely to your gate and not be afraid of missing your flight. TSA Pre is the best money anybody will ever spend in their life if they fly a lot.”  

When he does have to stay overnight in a hotel, he prefers not to let housekeeping inside. “I kind of want to throw things on the floor that I can’t get away with throwing on the floor when I’m at home with my family,” he said. “I want to spread out and live like a freshman in college, you know. Just live, enjoy yourself!”  

Here’s what he packs on every trip:  


“The hard part for me is that, as a black person, I feel like our hair products and lotion stuff should be exempt from the TSA ‘3 ounces or less’ thing. Can we have that as reparations? Can I take as much coconut oil as I want to because I’m black? Because it’s hard to travel with less than 3 ounces of lotion when you’re a black person. Or less than 3 ounces of hair product. This is true of other races, too, but right now I’m only talking about the black people. Black hair matters and black skin matters.”  

Incase Laptop Bag 

“I only want to check a bag if I’m moving some place permanently. I don’t actually want to check a bag just to go across country, so the bag that I use daily to carry my laptop is the same bag I use to travel across country to New York for, like, three or four days at a time. I’m a man, so these jeans you see me wearing are the same jeans I’m going to wear the entire time, no matter what I spill on them.”

Afro Pick  

“My Afro pick with a fist on it goes everywhere. Because you can’t go to Dallas, Texas, and count that you’re going to be able to find an Afro pick. If I don’t take my Afro pick, it’s just like, ‘Oh, I guess I won’t be combing my hair on this trip to Tucson, Arizona.”  


“I always have to try to get some work done on the plane because I’m always behind. I dropped out of college and I was a B-minus student in high school, so I’m always playing catch up. I’m groggily trying to finish either ‘United Shades’ edits or a CNN op-ed, or updating my show on racism, because racism happens every day, I don’t know if you know that.” 

Beanie Boos 

“On the way home, there are usually Beanie Boos in my bag, which are available in most of your finer airport Hudson News stores. They’re these little Beanie Baby offshoots that are the thing I’m supposed to bring back for my daughters. When I come through, they’ll grab the bag and they’ll want to open it like, ‘Where’s the Beanie Boos?!’ Actually, last time I bought them on the way out of town so I wouldn’t forget. Before I even left. Like, ‘Oh, they got Beanie Boos, let me just get ‘em.'”

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