By Nina Ruggiero
February 02, 2019
David M. Benett/Getty Images

Since his Sex and the City days, Chris Noth has returned to the small screen in hit series including Law & Order: Criminal Intent and The Good Wife. He has two films in pre-production and has graced the broadway and off-broadway stage — the latter is his next stop, for “The Mother,” opening at New York City’s Atlantic Theatre in early 2019. But there’s no avoiding the fact that women of a certain age (mine) associate the actor with his iconic role as Mr. Big.

And like Mr. Big, Noth is bicoastal (remember that dramatic relocation to Northern California?), regularly making the trip back and forth between his home in Los Angeles and New York City or his East Coast home in the Berkshires. He spoke to Travel + Leisure while preparing to head east for the busy holiday travel season last month, and while he had plenty of useful insight on hassle-free travel, there was one tip he was most excited to share: how to book an unforgettable family vacation.

Noth, who you may have noticed in commercials for vacation home rental site Hometogo, tried the platform out for himself, and he says it changed the way he’ll travel with his wife, son, and family friends forever.

Travel + Leisure: What tips have you learned from flying during hectic travel seasons?

Chris Noth: “I found out that flying on Tuesday is a good time to fly. Also I found out that you’ve got to have Global Entry and TSA [PreCheck] and now that TSA is becoming really popular I’ve joined a thing called Clear because it can be a real nightmare, especially driving to the airport from where I am, near Sherman Oaks/Studio City. Those kinds of things are vital, especially when you’re traveling with a family. I would’ve missed so many flights if I hadn’t had Clear or TSA. It’s a bit of a hassle getting Global Entry, you’ve gotta go to the airport and all that, but it’s so worth it now.”

What type of packer are you?

“I almost never check a bag in. I had a gig called ‘Pirate’ we shot in Budapest, one of my favorite cities in the world, and I was there for three months. So obviously you have to check in a bag. But when I do my trips back and forth from New York to L.A., I never check a bag in. Ever.”

What is something you always put in your carry-on?

“Reading material always. I’m big on books and newspapers that aren’t on my computer. I like the real thing. I like to turn a page on a plane. And Bluetooth headphones.”

Best book you’ve read on a plane recently?

“I’m reading a book about zen meditation because I’ve started meditating. Which is also helpful for airport situations or sitting on a plane. I’m reading two different plays right now… one of them’s a Thornton Wilder play called ‘The Skin of Our Teeth,’ and I’ll always bring a New York Times with me.”

And a Travel + Leisure?

“And also always a Travel + Leisure, yes. [Laughs] Actually I like your magazine very much.”

Have you actually used the meditation in airport situations?

“When I’m on the plane. When I take a seat and it takes forever for boarding, yeah. I put my headphones on and use an app. It’s called Headspace. I think meditation’s valuable in many ways… but in an airport sitting and waiting it can be a real plus.”

What do you never eat or drink on a plane?

“I try to maybe eat before… I find airplane food a little… it’s not that it’s always bad, but it’s always heavy. I just flew on Air New Zealand from London to L.A. and their business is great, they had some pretty good stuff. But I’ll try to eat beforehand so I don’t have to feel starving on a plane. And I try to have a coffee takeout, if I can have a Peete’s coffee I will, or a Starbucks even. Because I don’t know, man, airlines have not figured out how to make a good cup of coffee. It is some really wretched stuff, especially American Airlines. Who I used to fly regularly, but now I jump around. I’m finding I really like JetBlue first class a lot… the whole experience feels less like you’re in a herd of cattle.”

What was the best trip you took in 2018?

“I did something for the first time that I’ve never done in terms of traveling. Which is, three families — we’re all friends and our kids all go to the same school — that’s a total of five kids, all boys. And we wanted to take a trip, but you can’t do that in a hotel. You just can’t. It’s too crazy, it’s not just the money that you spend, it just doesn’t work. And I’m like, ‘Duh, I just did a commercial for Hometogo.’ And I’m like, well, I’m gonna use them.

So I called up, and I spent like a week going over these incredible homes. So we got one right above Tulum, Mexico, a place called Akumal. We got a house right on the bay there, the inlet, and I have to tell you, it was one of the best things. I had some trepidation because a lot of it has to do with the chemistry of the people you’re with, right? We had a six-bedroom house, a huge house. We had some of the meals made for us there, other times we cooked ourselves, other times we went out. So I was a little bit in fear because I always go away with my family alone or we go to hotels. And now all three of our families are like, ‘OK, where do we want to go next?’ We want to go to Scotland and get a castle. It was so much fun with the boys.”

Why use a site like Hometogo instead of a hotel?

“When you’ve got a lot of boys, you need room to move, and you need a certain amount of freedom that you can’t get in a hotel. And it was a gorgeous place. We didn’t just sit on the beach, we went zip lining…we went to Tulum…family vacations for me were always something I kind of loathed, as a kid I mean, so I didn’t want to repeat that. And you do it for the kids really. My son with his friends…just to watch them have a blast…it goes down as one of the best trips I’ve ever had.”

Where will you plan a group trip next?

“Oh man, we’re talking Greece; my wife’s like, ‘No, Scotland’; I want to go to Budapest…fact of the matter is, the two families we traveled with, I really love these people and I love their kids and we’re up for anything, maybe even in the states. It brought a whole new value to traveling for me because I thought it would just be chaos and screaming kids and headaches and it was just a blast. It really was. They went to bed and we drank tequila into the night…it was a gorgeous, gorgeous house and it would’ve cost five times more if we tried to do it in a hotel. That’s my advice to family travelers.”

In your opinion, why is traveling together so important?

“I find travel to be an essential exercise for people to get over the sort of prejudices and fears they have of foreign people and foreign lands. It’s been accelerated by the sort of paranoia our current government has promoted, but when you get to other countries and get to know their people, you see there’s more we have in common than we don’t. It’s a good way of destroying prejudice and fear, I think.”