Just a few days before his grand world tour, jolly old Saint Nick took the time to answer a few of our questions. He has some great travel advice and reveals a few tricks of his trade.
There are only a few days left before you take off on another RTW trip, how do you get ready for such a big trip?
It’s always a rush till the very last minute. We finish packing up the last gifts and then we go over all our equipment. The elves take care of preparing the travel documents for the reindeer, which is probably the most complicated part! Year to year the rules change in many countries and some places are more strict than others when it comes to travelling with animals. Everything needs to be sorted if we hope to pass through more than 200 countries in a single night. It’s much more straight forward to travel with a dog or cat. Passports, visas and vaccinations must all be sorted before the Big Day.
The last couple days are always hectic. You always need to check the list twice, to see that everyone’s been naughty or nice. You wouldn’t want to put the wrong gift in the wrong stocking! Even after so many years I always have the feeling I’m forgetting something.
Most people choose to take a sabbatical or gap year to travel around the world but you do it in one night. Have you ever considered taking your time to see more of the world?
I actually asked myself that same question the first year on the job. But if you’re going to travel around the world, you should really have a mission, or at least a goal. Every year I travel around the world to distribute gifts to all the children, young and old, and I want everyone to receive their gifts at the same time in order to make it the most special day of the year. So really, I have no choice but to whip around the globe in a mere 24 hours.
It is certainly very different from a world tour that take several months. When you travel so quick there is very little time to soak up any local culture or see the sights but I would not trade anything in the world for the adrenaline of travelling at such high speeds and the thrill of sneaking gifts under trees without being noticed.
They call you Baba Noël in Turkey, Vieijito Pascuero in Chile and Bom Velhinho in Brazil. Which country welcomes Santa Claus best?
That’s hard to say… but very few people know that I love karaoke. Every year when I pass through Japan I make sure to stop at one or two city bars to sing a few Christmas carols with friends there. You mentioned Brazil, and I have to admit, the atmosphere there at this time of the year is something special. Those guys know how to party and I can’t help but feel like a football star every time I visit.
Have you ever considered trading your sleigh in for a new Airbus 380?
The wife and I have talked about it before and I am never short of offers from manufacturers and airlines offering me a new ride but while I respect their work, a commercial aircraft just isn’t the right vehicle for the job. To be honest, all these new gizmos and gadgets are a bit too much for me. I started being Santa with a sleigh and I intend to finish it that way. I couldn’t ask for a better crew either, my elves and reindeer are top notch.
You give gifts to everyone in the world but do you also receive gifts from others on Christmas?
Oh yes! I am lucky enough to have a loving wife and very caring reindeer. The only difference is that I don’t write a letter asking for a gift so they have to be a little creative when it comes to choosing a pressie for me, but I’m rarely disappointed. It’s the thought that counts. Last year the reindeer gave me a framed photo of me on stage in Tokyo with the caption, “Boss of the Year.” I was very touched.