If ever there was a consummate traveler, it would have to be Jolly Old St. Nicholas. While he may not be a frequent flier, his annual, round-the-world journey would add up to status awards enough to make even the million milers a pleasant holiday shade of green with envy. The song “I’ve Been Everywhere” was probably written just for him. Certainly, the dude knows how to get around. So what can we learn from Santa’s travel style?
- Pack light. Okay, leaving the North Pole with a sleigh full of toys doesn’t seem like traveling light but you must remember: Santa only takes one suit! Almost everything else is on a one way ticket. I’m assuming there’s a mug of hot cocoa (the niceties of avoiding TSA checkpoints), an elf or two, and that infamous list, which now likely resides on a server back at ‘The Pole’ fed to a tablet via the sleigh’s on board Wi-Fi. I don’t imagine there’s much more to his personal packing routine. Part of this genius is the personal branding. If YOU wore the same suit of red fur everywhere you went, you would be instantly recognizable also! Who would your clients, friends and family think of first? Yep, the crazy one in that red suit. (Note: You might want to choose something less ostentatious. A nice blazer, maybe.)
- Plan ahead. We know the elves work around the calendar getting ready for Christmas and I’m sure that includes North Pole Travel, working overtime plotting out the best route every year. Depending on the nature of the travel, I’ll spend several weeks preparing for time on the road. It really helps smooth out any turbulence along the way.
- Immerse yourself in the local culture. Kris Kringle. Father Christmas. Pere Noel. Sinterklaas. Babbo Natale. Shengdan Laoren. You get the idea. Santa is well known, and knows well the people and cultures around the world. A sub-section here is to know the local language – at least the basics – which, I think, we can assume Santa does.
- Be of Good Cheer. This helps more than most people would believe. We know that nearly everyone you encounter is instantly more likely to help you / be nice to you / reward you when you’re smiling and cheerful than when you’re letting your inner Grinch show.
- Spread Good Cheer. Don’t keep it all to yourself! Travel is, for many, very stressful. Your smiling face can help lighten things up, and it won’t make your adventure any less memorable or manageable. Also remember that you are an ambassador when traveling and the best thing you can (some say the only thing you should) leave behind is a good impression.
- Go for the convertible! Almost any place is instantly cooler when you’re cruising with the top down, Santa style. Granted, it’s not always practical or available but, when possible, I say get the convertible. (Having never seen it with the top up, I do wonder if the Sleigh is truly a convertible.)
I like to think that’s some of the travel wisdom St. Nick would pass on. It would be nice if he could also lend us his touch of magic and elfin workforce, making it that much easier to pack like a pro and see the world! I am happy, though, to try and learn from the Master and hopefully be a better traveler.
Come to think of it, he’d probably offer one more tip: Leave them with memorable words – “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”