tips for pooping on a plane
Jason Hoffman/Thrillist
Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

Expert Tips for Pooping on a Plane (and Other Flying Hacks) From Neil Patrick Harris

It’s not that Neil Patrick Harris thinks his shit doesn't stink. He just knows how to make YOU think it doesn't. And it's not with his charming personality or Emmy nominations or famous roles as Doogie Howser and Barney Stinson. It's with tai chi. But more on that later.

The celebrity thing aside, NPH is an avid traveler both for work and pleasure. And through all the miles he's logged he's learned some ingenious stuff -- including how to do a No. 2 and not offend the whole cabin. While Neil was in Miami hawking Heineken Light at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, he shared his best flying tips with us. Prepare to be enlightened.

How to pack smarter

"I'm in deep admiration of people who can put two weeks of stuff into a tiny roller bag and carry it on," Neil says. "How do you do it? The shoes alone!" But there are places you can make cutbacks, even if you're the type who can't stand wearing the same pair of shoes every day.

"Look, you only need one gym outfit. Just pack a thing of laundry detergent and hand wash your gym clothes in the hotel sink. The other option is packing nine things, or spending an F-ton of money on dry cleaning gym clothes at the hotel. And, really, dry cleaning your gym clothes? That's crossing the line."

tips for pooping on a plane
Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

How to dress for the plane

Flying usually feels like a chore in which you're herded through tedious lines and stuffed into inhumanely small seats. NPH suggests dressing to make travel feel more, you know, special. "We try and dress like a half step up from normal when we're on airplanes," he says. "It makes me think of the good old days of Pan Am when going on a plane meant something. As opposed to wearing a hoodie and some sweaty gym socks."

But he's no Barney Stinson. "I don't wear a suit; that's uncomfortable and it gets wrinkled and you have to take the jacket off," he says. "And where does that go? Just go for something sharper than what you'd normally wear."

How to keep from getting sick in the air

Airplanes are notorious germ incubators. And if you have to speak, sing, dance, and wave to adoring fans once you hit the ground, staying healthy is key. Neil and his husband David got a brilliant tip from their voice teacher: "Take a shot of Afrin before you take off and after you land -- that totally opens up your sinuses. Then put a little Neosporin on the inside of each nostril so the recirculating air filled with coughs dies when it gets to your nose."

"Every time I do it I'm impressed with myself."

How to handle obnoxious seatmates

The overly friendly dude next to you is a problem even when you're NOT a former Oscars host. But for a celebrity, having to suffer an impromptu flight-long interview and selfie-sesh with a fellow passenger can be particularly infuriating. "I use noise-canceling headphones. I don't actually listen to anything but it keeps overly nervous or chatty people from talking incessantly," Harris says. "It’s not to be rude -- it's just that's the big questionable variable when you're on a flight. That person next to you might be nice, or they might be angry, or chatty. When I have headphones on, the rules are mine to make."

How to keep your kids from annoying everyone on the plane

Neil and his husband have strict rules for how often their 6-year-old twins can use handheld devices. Flights, however, are a different scenario. "Kids become incredibly self-sufficient when they have iPads," he says. "It's an amazing game-changer. They're only allowed to use them very judiciously otherwise, but on flights they can watch all the content and play all the games they want." So don't feel guilty gluing your kid to a tablet to make the flight a little more pleasant for everyone. Doogie Howser does it.

And finally… how to take a shit and not stink up the lav

"There's a lot of people who refuse to go to the bathroom on the plane for fear of leaving a bad smell." We've all been there. But NPH is about to drop some wisdom.

"When you have to go No. 2 in an airplane bathroom, flush while you go, then flush after you go," he says, referring to the widely known practice of the courtesy flush. "Then -- you laugh, but this is effective -- use hand soap. Put it on your hands and all over your arms, and do, like, tai chi moves with your arms." This gets the smell of the soap in the air and covers up whatever other smells might be there.  

"Then wash your hands, and then the bathroom doesn't smell like your stuff. Every time I do it I'm impressed with myself."

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Matt Meltzer is a contributing writer to Thrillist whose career highlight was learning NPH used his article to find out where to have dinner in Miami. See the joy on his Instagram @meltrez1.