In September 2008 the world we live in changed forever. No more would we worry or panic about our humdrum lives as a saviour, taking the form of an A-List Hollywood actress, was there to help solve and improve our once miserable existences. Yes...I am talking about Gywneth Paltrow and her much derided weekly lifestyle newsletter GOOP (www.goop.com). It isn't my intention to tear into Gwynnie's online baby; most of the Western press has already done that. But, having being reminded of this website recently by my friends, I thought I would make a little comparison between the travel tips, Mrs Paltrow-Martin offers her readers and the ones that I offer mine. I'll warn you now; so you are not shocked...they differ enormously.
One thing the reader of GOOP must understand (and something Gwyneth clear does not) is that we live in a completely orbit to this woman. Gwyneth is a multi-millionairess Hollywood actress that is married to a multi-millionaire rock musician, and is accustomed to a certain way of living. And, those women that do follow the tips of the online lifestyle guru? Well, I'm not sure I'd like to share a lo-cal, soy infused chai latte with them and their likely demands for catalogue book perfection in all aspects of their life.
One key element of Gwyneth's site is its focus on travel and this is where our paths cross. So, it's GOOP vs TRGTALP...Game. On!
Round 1 - Flights
In a recent entry, Gwyneth posted the following picture of herself with the caption, "Here is a bedraggled working mother about to take an 11-hour flight..."
Oh, please! Gwyneth has clearly no idea how lucky she is to be sitting in, what is probably, a first class seat ready to be pampered within an inch of her life for 11 hours. She also talks about preferences for particular planes and airlines. If I was her, I would be thankful she is not in economy class and that Ryanair do not fly the London Heathrow to LAX route. TRGTALP's approach to flights is much simpler (mostly thanks to budget restrictions) = find the cheapest possible flight, wrap your knees round your ears and sit there until you are herded off the plane by your shouty stewardesses.
Round One goes to...GOOP - for sheer luxury!
Round Two - Packing
While Gwyneth prefers to use luggage that are worth more than my all my trips for the year. She does, however, profess to have (like TRGTALP) mastered the art of packing light; fitting much of her expensive designer wardrobe into a carry on bag, albeit a £2100 Lanvin case. I also admire Gwyneth's advice on packing capsule wardrobes that are interchangeable for your trip; thus, saving on taking excessive amounts of clothes that don't match each other. However, I certainly don't, for one minute, believe that Gwyneth washes her knickers in the hotel sink as is suggested on GOOP. The TRGTALP approach? Get a £25 holdall. Fill it with underwear for each day you are staying, plus a spare pair. Add your favourite t-shirts and shirts. A couple of pairs of jeans. Some Nivea miniatures bought at discount retail chain Home Bargains. And you are packed!
Round Two goes to...TRGTALP - for good value practicality.
Round Three - The Journey and on the Plane
I can't do this section justice without simply quoting directly from the Goop website. Here's Gwyneth's sage advice on journey comfort - "I always find it best to eat really light when flying. If leaving from London, I’ll usually stop at Itsu in Terminal 5 for some miso soup, as I've heard miso is said to counteract radiation. When I’m on the plane, I try to stick to the salads or lighter fare they serve while staying away from the heavier sauces, proteins and carbs. I also make sure to pack a piece of fresh fruit, which can be hard to come by on a long flight." A full English breakfast and a pint at The Wetherspoons this is not!
Miso soup! Miso soup to counteract radiation! Flabbergasted to think that anyone even considers that. As a side note, I wonder if Gwyneth gets the irony in the fact that it was in a central London branch of Itsu that the former Russian secret service officer, Alexander Litvinenko, was allegedly poisoned with radioactive material.
And, how does TRGTALP prepare for a flight, you ask?! After wistfully hoping that some watchdog has taken hold of the airports by the scruff of their necks and told them to charge sensible prices for their food offerings, I usually end up at Boots to see if there are any discounted sandwiches. Failing that, it is a big bottle of water, some almonds and walnuts (bought in a supermarket before my trip) and some fruit that keeps me sated in the air.
Round Three goes to...TRGTALP - for the love of all that is holy...no way on Earth is Gwyneth having that round with a mention of dishwater flavour miso soup!
Final Round - Round Four - In Flight Entertainment
Now, Gwyneth, often has access to a host of movies, her own iPad and every Coldplay album downloaded to it. She recommends a number of interesting-sounding books and revels in the fact that she is not able to access the Internet to be bombarded by people slagging off the Goop website or her agent offering her a part in 'Iron Man 4'. TRGTALP, on the other hand, takes a similar approach by listening to my ancient, neolithic era iPod Nano and a full immersion into my latest read. Being a teacher, it is not rare, these days, for me to take some papers with me to mark on the plane. After having read the in-flight magazine, checked out the stuff on the menu I don't want to pay that much for, I see it as a great way to maximise what is essentially 'dead' time.
Round Four goes to...GOOP - for having more choice!
There you are! It's a tie! Jokes aside. Gwyneth and I are obviously different kinds of travellers with very different budgets, but what ties us together is a common desire to help you on your travels and ensure you get the most out of your journeys; whether you be heading to Los Angeles for that script read-through at Warner Bros or on that bargain Bratislava break with your friends.
Happy and safe travels!