The actor and comedian also told Travel + Leisure that he loves to travel with his wife, Elle.
For actor Keegan-Michael Key, travel may be the ultimate work perk. Not only have his beloved roles have brought him from Los Angeles to London, and beyond, but he brings his wife along to make the trips extra special.
A Michigan native, he made a household name for himself as a regular on television series like Mad TV, Friends from College, Parks and Recreation and his timeless sketch series alongside Jordan Peele, Key & Peele. On the big screen, you’ve seen him in "Horrible Bosses 2" and the most recent "Wonka" flick with Timothée Chalamet and he’s leant his voice to the likes of "The Lego Movie" and "Toy Story 4."
As versatile as his comedy and acting are, it turns out his travel is, too. In that vein and perhaps the perfect partnership, he was recently enlisted by Choice Hotels – which operates 22 different hotel brands – to play a character in its Where Travels Come True campaign. As part of the gig, he captures common travel narratives as well as wears different hats for different scenarios, be it planning a business adventure or family road trip.
As for his favorite trip he’s taken lately, it took him across the Atlantic.
“A few years back, my wife Elle and I did a crossing of the Atlantic on the Queen Mary,” he told Travel + Leisure. “It was an enormous boat... I mean the Queen Mary is really, really huge, and beautiful. The waves were frothy [and] big at times, and the food was some of the best we’ve ever had. Plus, we got to see some dolphins.”
Also across the ocean, London rings near and dear to the Keys’ heart. It’s both the spot of some favorite holiday memories as well as a future bucket list item.
“Being there during Christmas and the holidays and walking down Oxford Street and seeing all the decorations... there is nothing quite like it," he said. "I would like to be in London when it snows one day. I know it’s rare, but I’d really like to experience that.”
Which 'Wonka' character would you want and not want as a travel companion?
Oompa Loompas have been known to travel in style and they don’t take up too much room, so there’s that. I would probably avoid traveling with a giraffe, since they can’t really fly with their heads out the window. Maybe if we were traveling by convertible it could work.
Go-to plane snack?
Got to have my nuts. I’m a traditionalist.
Aisle or Window seat?
Definitely aisle, or if I’m able to get one of those fancy window-aisle seats that has the best of both worlds.
Favorite location he's ever filmed for a show or movie? Why?
Gosh there are so many great studios out there. But FOX Studios in L.A. – I was able to stay in a hotel next door to the studio I was working in. It was amazing that I could walk to work every day and that was a wonderful experience.
Do you get to the airport super early?
I do like to be early, so then I don’t have to stress. I’m an "early arriver" for sure.
Getting from coast-to-coast, Key has a few travel essentials. Number one on the list? Noise-canceling headphones.
“It’s a must,” he said. “I need those, and I need something to read. It can be anything fiction – even like a dime-store novel – but I just need to read something to pass the time. Also, I really don’t like to fly without my wife. She is something – and someone – I really don’t like to travel without.”
As for his travel deal breakers, the list is short but he is passionate about them.
“I think the phrase ‘pet peeves’ answers the question,” he said with a laugh. “I love, love, love animals, but a crying cat or barking dog on a red-eye can be a real challenge for anyone.”
And as when it comes to any adventures he may not join in on, he told T+L that he really doesn’t need to endure summiting Mount Everest, saying with a laugh that he’ll “just take a helicopter and fly past it” instead.
However, despite travel dreams amid a busy schedule that can keep him and Elle on the road for some time, home is always a favorite destination.
“We live near the ocean, to the point where you can hear the waves from our house,” he said of his waterside residence off Long Island outside of New York City. “I was surprised the first time I visited the town where we live. I had to take a boat to get there, stepped off it and just thought to myself, ‘okay, whatever this is, I want more of this in my life’ and decided I never wanted to leave. “Of course, the travel is fun, but, for us, it’s really nice to be able to go home, too.”
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