Welcome to our series, the T+L Carry-On, where we take a look inside the luggage of those who find themselves frequently traveling around the world—and gain a few expert tips along the way.
This week, we caught up with singer and actress Keke Palmer at the Mandarin Oriental, New York, who finds herself constantly traveling between Los Angeles, New York, and Atlanta. Besides letting us go through the contents of her carry-on, Keke dished on her beauty secrets, her favorite travel memories—and even gave us a hint as to what to expect from Scream Queens, Season Two. For the full interview, read on; plus, don’t forget to check out last week’s column with American Ballet Theater Principal Dancer Isabella Boylston.
Her Relationship with Travel:
“I travel a lot, depending on what I’m working on—that kind of regulates how often I’ll travel. If I’m working on a TV show, I won’t be able to travel that much because I’m focusing on that specific job and I’m going by their schedule. So when I was working on Scream Queens, I didn’t travel too much—I was just in New Orleans (Ed’s note: for co-star Abigail Breslin’s official guide to the city, read here). But now that we’re on hiatus, I’ve traveled a lot of different places for work. I go to New York a lot, Atlanta a lot for music, and now I’m headed to Miami.”
Her Carry-on Essentials:
“Being a singer, I always have to have my Grether’s Pastilles. These lozenges are the best because they have a little bit of glycerin in them, which keeps my vocal cords moisturized. My favorite flavor is black currant. And gum, because I like to keep my breath fresh and it helps pop your ears.
I always bring “dad hats” because I think they’re a cool accessory for any outfit. I especially like having plain ones, because then I can add stuff to them, like safety pins. They help for bad hair days, too. I always bring a Tide to Go pen because I’m always getting my clothes dirty. I always have a jean jacket—I have two. They’re stylish, they keep me warm, and they go with anything. And sunglasses, always, because they keep your outfit looking fresh and they’re good for when you’re feeling introverted. I’ve always got my workout gear, because I have to stay on point with working out. And I can’t forget my Mophie Juice Pack and all of my chargers, because everyone needs to stay charged.”
Her Top Picks for Tourists Visiting Illinois, Her Home State:
“First time visitors to Chicago should definitely check out Harold’s Chicken Shack—it’s one of the staples of the city, and it’s the best ever. Also, if you ever get a chance to go to the Taste of Chicago, which only happens around a certain time each year, you should definitely go because you get to taste all the different kinds of food Chicago has to offer. Chicago’s such a smorgasbord of cultures; you can taste Polish food, soul food…any type of delicacy you want, you can have at the Taste of Chicago.” (Ed’s note: this year’s festival will be held through July 6-10.)
Her Favorite Place To Go for Leisure:
“If I’m going on a personal trip, I usually pick somewhere like Atlanta. I love it there because I have a second life there; very different from the one I live in California. I get to see people I don’t get to see often, I get to eat different food, and do different activities. Atlanta has a lot of fun arcades to go to—there’s this place called Andretti. It’s a totally different atmosphere than in L.A.”
Her Travel Beauty Routine:
“I always bring makeup remover wipes—I swear by Neutrogena Cleansing Towelettes—because even if I’m too tired to take all my makeup off, I can just use these. Then I have this Philosophy Fresh Cream Body Lotion—it’s the best-smelling lotion in the world. I always bring scrunchies, because I’m addicted to anything '90s. I love masks, and I’m always getting different masks from Sephora. Right now I’m obsessed with this Boscia Luminizing Black Mask. I use Orlane’s Super Moisturizer Light Cream every morning—it’s great for all skin types.
I love bringing mink eyelashes with me, because they last the longest. They’re expensive for false lashes, but they last a really long time because they can be reused. I always bring my Chi flatiron—they get really hot, and they’re just the best. And then I use Murad Invisiblur Perfecting Shield SPF 30 because I’ve got to keep my skin protected, and this one helps prevent dark spots and evens out my skin tone. And I can’t believe I’m telling you this—but Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium is the top of the line perfume for me. When I put this on, it changes my whole life. It’s the best perfume in the world—my absolute favorite. So I put the Philosophy Fresh cream on, mix it with this, and that’s my scent.”
Her Favorite Trip:
“My favorite trip was probably when I went to Indiana Beach as a kid. My family and I used to travel there a lot. I remember this one trip we went to with our extended family—it was the best trip ever, and I always remember Indiana Beach because of that moment in my life. It’s so funny how it’s not a series of consistencies that makes something special—it’s one moment. It’s not like every single time I went was the greatest—I actually went to visit after, and it was totally different. But it’s special because of what that time and that moment represents to me.”
Travel Rituals and Traditions:
“Whenever I get on the plane, I always pray right before. It’s so funny, because one time I was with one of my friends on a really early flight—it was like, 5:00am—so we were really sleepy. So we get on the flight, and I don’t remember walking in the airport or sitting down on the plane or anything. All I remember is waking up on the plane, and my friend was like, 'What is this?' (Gestures the sign of the cross.) 'You did that when you sat down.' And I was like, what? I literally prayed in my sleep, so that’s definitely a ritual for me.”
What Inspires Her Music:
“Culture—what’s going on with my generation, with 'the kids.' I look around at whatever I’m responding to, and I see what they’re responding to, and what we’re all collectively responding to. It’s really just the people and the community and keeping my eyes open and seeing what’s going on around me. I’m really into conceptualizing videos while I’m traveling—I’ll write down lyrics too, but more so with the visualization of ideas, shows, videos, and movies. That’s what my Mom and I used to sit around doing all day. It’s fun to be creative!”
Staying Fit on the Go:
“My trainer gives me in-hotel circuits that I can do and don’t have to use weights for. So it’s a lot of burpies, jumping jacks, leg lifts, donkey kicks, crunches, planks, squats…stuff like that. I’ll pretty much do variations of those sets three times each, and it’s great because I can do them anywhere, without having to bring weights or resistance bands or anything.”
What to Expect from Her Character, Zayday, on Scream Queens, Season Two:
“This is what I know: we’re going to be in a hospital. Dean Munsch is no longer Dean. Apparently, Zayday becomes a doctor. And apparently the Chanels get out. They never tell us anything, and it sounds so fake. People always think we’re lying and we know everything about the show, but I really don’t know anything beyond that.”