The five-day, five-destination travel extravaganza that is the Today show's Where in the World is Matt Lauer concluded this morning in Barbados after jaunts to Namibia, Spain, Switzerland and Malaysia. Kate Maxwell caught up with Matt half an hour after he went off air.
Congratulations on an amazing five days. You clocked 29,778 miles and traveled to four continents -- how are you feeling?
I'm exhausted -- I've spent about 65 hours on planes and helicopters; it's been a long week. I tend to arrive at a destination just a couple of hours before we go on air, so there's not much time to sleep.
How do the logistics work? Presumably you're not taking commercial flights between destinations?
No, the only way we can do this is with our own plane. It's a very civilized one: the food's great and they really take care of us.
Do you all fly private? What about the rest of the crew?
The crew arrives in each of the five destinations several weeks before the show. There's a huge amount of planning involved -- we start working on Where in the World about a year before we air.
So how do you cope with all that flying and those time zones?
I stay on New York time; I try to trick myself by doing the things I'm used to doing at the same times of the day -- I'll eat breakfast when it's pitch black outside. You get turned around so quickly on these trips; it's the only way I can deal with it. I also work out for 20 minutes every day on the plane -- I carry a gym in a duffle bag with two dumbbells, a medicine ball and exercise bands, which makes a big difference.
You kicked off the week in Namibia -- had you been there before?
I hadn't, and it's gone to the top of my list of places to take the kids. The coastline, the desert, the animals -- I thought it was sensational.
The show opened with you skiing down a sand dune, was it very different from snow skiing?
I ski a lot on snow and I expected it to be similar, but it was like skiing in slow motion: you really have to force your turns. I didn't want to start the week by falling over and then spend the next four days spitting sand, so I was happy I made it to the bottom in one piece.
Then the plan went awry -- you were supposed to go to Switzerland on Tuesday but you ended up in Madrid. What happened?
The weather was looking iffy in the Swiss Alps a couple of days before the shoot; it can change at the drop of a hat there. In the end there was an amazing storm on Tuesday -- the snow was coming down sideways -- so we turned up in Madrid two days ahead of time, which was hard for the crew. Fortunately the weather was perfect there, and it was beyond perfect in Switzerland when we arrived on Thursday.
Any other surprises this week?
Apart from Switzerland it ran like clockwork, which was exactly the plan. We don't want surprises -- if it rains or someone doesn't show up or the plane breaks it's a complete disaster. Fortunately none of that happened this time.
After Madrid you went to Kuala Lumpur? What was the highlight there?
One of the goals of Where in the World is to introduce people to places they're not familiar with, so that's where we were going with Kuala Lumpur. I love architecture; that's what I'd do if I didn't do this job, so that's what stood out for me -- the Petronas Towers were amazing. The shoot was tough, though, because it was very hot and humid despite it being 8 pm.
You finished up in Barbados -- did you get to spend much time chilling out at Sandy Lane Hotel?
The idea with the last day of Where in the World is always to blow off a little steam because we're all so wrecked by then -- reciting historical facts is the last thing I want to do -- so a Caribbean island seemed like the perfect destination. Unfortunately we arrived at Sandy Lane at 2 am, I had a two-hour nap and a shower and started filming, so there wasn't much kicking back by the pool, and I'm headed to the airport to fly back to the States in a few minutes.
This was the 10th Where in the World. Will there be an 11th?
I don't think so. Ten is a nice round number and I have a lot of travel on the schedule for 2012 -- I'm going to be in London for three weeks for the Olympics, which is a big deal and something I'll really enjoy, and then I'll be traveling for the election. I've had an incredible time with Where in the World and I've definitely ended on a high.WATCH: