Detours with locals.
Travel tips you can trust.

How Santa Claus packs for his trip around the world

Kriss Kringle. Saint Nicholas. Pelznickel. Whatever you call him, Santa Claus has an incredible travel job to take on every Christmas Eve. Not only does the man of the hour have to wrangle flying reindeer and deliver gifts around the entire world, he also has to do it all in one night. But the huge task isn’t a source of stress for Santa. He says it’s a lifelong joy.

“I couldn’t imagine life not being Santa Claus,” says Santa, who discovered his life’s purpose at the age of 3, he said, when he gave his first toy to a child in need.

Many, many years later, Santa is still as jolly as ever. We wanted to find out everything Santa takes along with him on his biggest night of the year, so we sat down with St. Nick (really, we did) for an interview about his packing rituals.

Here’s what he doesn’t leave the North Pole without on Christmas Eve.

A spare pair of gloves

Santa's gloves, so he leaves no trace (except presents). (Monica Rodman/The Washington Post)

Santa told us he packs a pair of gloves, but not because he’s worried about chilly hands on Christmas Eve. The gloves are a special touch to keep things tidy as he passes through homes. No smudges left behind from fingerprints here.


Santa's brush keeps his beard well-groomed. (Monica Rodman/The Washington Post)

According to Santa, he spends about 30 seconds per house dropping off gifts and regrouping (okay, yes, also eating cookies and drinking some milk). That doesn’t sound like a lot of time to do much of anything, but Santa still makes time to ensure his beard is looking great by packing a brush in his travel kit.

Reindeer treats

Reindeer need carbs, too. These are some delicious treats Santa takes with him every Dec. 24. (Monica Rodman/The Washington Post)

To pull off the greatest sleigh ride of all time year after year, the reindeer need food to get them through the night. Santa comes prepared by packing fuel for his team in his bag.


What can we say: He just loves cookies. Santa packs some in addition to the ones he gets on the go. (Monica Rodman/The Washington Post)

Santa is a man who stays on brand, even with his snacking tendencies. Imagine: The whole world is stockpiling their living rooms with cookies and milk for you, and you still ask your wife to pack cookies for the road. In case Santa gets hungry over the course of his big adventure, he told us he carries a snack from Mrs. Claus. That’s dedication to the craft.

Tissue travel pack

Santa shows his tissues, one of the key items he packs on his trip delivering Christmas presents. (Monica Rodman/The Washington Post)

Santa’s a tidy guy (extra gloves, remember?). He isn’t one to leave the house with rogue crumbs or chocolate on his face. The solution? Santa reportedly packs a convenient travel pack of tissues.

Breath mints

Cinnamon flavor, of course. (Monica Rodman/The Washington Post)

According to Santa, cookie breath is not always the best. While we’ll agree to disagree with that statement, we can acknowledge that packing breath mints is a good idea for travelers. You never know who you’ll bump into or when halitosis could strike.

Wish list

The book of wishes is crucial for this once-a-year trip. (Monica Rodman/The Washington Post)

Santa allegedly keeps track of kids’ many Christmas requests in this priceless book of wishes. To leave this book at home on Christmas Eve would be a catastrophe.

Naughty and Nice list, travel edition

Santa shows us his Naughty and Nice list. (Monica Rodman/The Washington Post)

Who’s getting a cool toy and who’s getting coal? That’s up to the information stored on Santa’s Naughty and Nice list. Instead of bringing the original copy, Santa said he packs a travel edition of the list when he’s making his rounds.

Spare pair of glasses

Risk-averse Santa carries an extra pair of glasses. (Monica Rodman/The Washington Post)

Between that wish list and the Naughty and Nice roundup, Santa has a lot of logistics to work out on Christmas Eve. Packing extra glasses is essential to make sure the night runs smoothly.


Santa shows us some of the toys he packs on his trip delivering Christmas presents. (Monica Rodman/The Washington Post)

Santa’s packing pièce de résistance: toys. Lots of toys. Santa spends the rest of the year getting those toys ready to go for the big night, and you better believe they’re packed on Christmas Eve.

Read more:

Christmas geese and turkey feasts: Where to find festive in-flight meals this holiday season

The holiday foods you can and can’t bring in a carry-on, according to TSA

Abandon big city, fall in love, repeat: Live out your Hallmark-movie fantasies in these 5 festive towns

How to stay healthy while traveling during the holidays