These Are the Presidents Who Loved Traveling (and How Donald Trump Compares)
Some presidents loved traveling to remote locations, while others liked to stay closer to home (or the White House). In fact, the phenomenon of presidents traveling abroad is a fairly recent development. Both Barack Obama and Donald Trump have done a lot of traveling. But even a few decades ago, presidents did a lot less international jetsetting.
Below, learn which presidents loved traveling the most. And head to page 16 to see how Donald Trump compares.
16. Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Warren G. Harding, and Calvin Coolidge took 1 international trip each
- Made 1 journey abroad each during their presidencies
History reports that Theodore Roosevelt became the first U.S. president to make a state visit to another country while in office. On the one international trip of his presidency, Roosevelt traveled to Panama and Puerto Rico. That journey ushered in a new era of presidential travel and diplomatic relations, but many subsequent presidents also took just one international trip as president.
William Howard Taft followed in Roosevelt’s footsteps and made one international trip, a journey to Mexico. Warren G. Harding became the first sitting president to visit Canada during the one international trip of his presidency. And Calvin Coolidge made an official visit to Havana, Cuba. But none of them seemed to love travel as much as the presidents who would succeed them.
Next: This commander in chief took two trips abroad during his presidency.
15. Woodrow Wilson became the first sitting president to go to Europe
- Took 2 international trips as president
Woodrow Wilson made one international trip as president-elect and two as president. He also became the first sitting president to visit Europe. In fact, he spent nearly seven months in Europe after World War I. History reports that it took Wilson nine days at sea aboard the S.S. George Washington to get to France.
There, he traveled by land to Versailles to attend the conference seeking an official end to the war. While in Europe, he also met with diplomats in the United Kingdom, Italy, and Belgium.
Next:This president visited Germany shortly after the Nazis surrendered.
14. Harry S. Truman visited Germany after the Nazi surrender
- Made 5 international journeys as president
Harry S. Truman made five international trips during his tenure as president. His only trans-Atlantic trip took him to Europe for talks with World War II allies about defeated Nazi Germany, which had agreed to surrender nine weeks before Truman’s visit.
Other notable trips of his presidency included a visit to Wake Island to confer with Douglas MacArthur during the Korean conflict and a journey to Rio de Janeiro for an official state visit. As the Truman Library reports, the president kept detailed travel logs, including records of his vacations to Key West, a place he definitely loved to travel.
Next: This president visited the U.S.S.R.
13. Gerald Ford took several trips, including 1 to the U.S.S.R.
- Took 7 international trips as president
Gerald Ford made seven international trips during his time as president. The Ford Library and Museum reports that in 1974, the president visited Japan, becoming the first American president to visit the country.
On the same trip, Ford also traveled to South Korea and even to the Soviet Union. There, Ford met with Leonid Brezhnev, General Secretary of the Communist Party of the U.S.S.R. The two signed a joint communique on the limitation of strategic offensive arms.
Next: This president had a good time visiting Europe.
12. John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy made waves in Europe
- Made 8 international journeys as president
John F. Kennedy made eight international trips as president. On one of those trips, Kennedy joined the ranks of the American presidents who have met Queen Elizabeth II. (But the queen and first lady Jacqueline Kennedy didn’t exactly hit it off.)
The first lady drew attention elsewhere in Europe, prompting the president to remark, “I am the man who accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris, and I have enjoyed it.” Kennedy seemed to enjoy traveling abroad. And on his second trip to Europe, Kennedy made an eloquent speech at the Berlin wall, visited Vatican City (as the first Catholic president), and stopped by the Kennedy ancestral home in Ireland.
Next: This president went on a secret mission abroad.
11. Lyndon B. Johnson took the first round-the-world presidential flight
- Took 11 international trips as president
Lyndon B. Johnson made 11 international trips during his tenure as president. One of his most notable occurred in 1967, when Johnson undertook what The Washington Post characterizes as a “secret mission” to achieve peace during the Vietnam War. Ostensibly, Johnson was departing for Australia to attend memorial services for Prime Minister Harold Holt, who had been lost in a coastal swimming accident.
“But, unknown to most in government and the accompanying press, LBJ planned to personally meet Pope Paul VI in Rome and try to enlist his help toward peace,” the Post explains. Johnson’s 27,000-mile globe-circling journey became the first round-the-world flight of a U.S. president.
Next: This president became the first to visit sub-Saharan Africa.
10. Jimmy Carter became the first president to visit sub-Saharan Africa
- Made 12 journeys abroad as president
Jimmy Carter made 12 international trips during his presidency, traveling to Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Carter’s 1978 trip to Liberia marked the first time that an American president traveled to sub-Saharan Africa. Carter says he chose to travel to Nigeria and Liberia “because Nigeria was and is the largest and most influential African nation and because Liberia was founded by freed American slaves in the early 19th century.”
But as Slate reports, Carter’s claim about Liberia isn’t exactly true. “Although some freed American slaves did settle there, Liberia was actually founded by the American Colonization Society, a group of white Americans — including some slaveholders — that had what certainly can be described as mixed motives,” the publication notes.
Next: This president found that even international travel couldn’t distract from scandal at home.
9. Richard Nixon tried to distract America from Watergate with a trip abroad
- Made 15 international journeys as president
Richard Nixon made 15 international trips as president, going to Europe shortly after his inauguration and making a famous trip to the People’s Republic of China (the first such trip by a sitting president). Nixon also visited other Communist nations, including Romania in 1969, Yugoslavia in 1970, and the Soviet Union in 1972 and 1974.
However, not all of Nixon’s international travels were a success. As The New York Times notes, Nixon went to Saudi Arabia and Israel in June 1974, hoping to change the Watergate-dominated narrative at home. But as the Times notes, the effort “failed spectacularly” and Nixon resigned only a month later.
Next: This president seemed to love international travel.
8. Dwight D. Eisenhower visited 26 countries as president
- Took 16 international trips as president
Dwight D. Eisenhower made one international trip as president-elect and 16 international trips as president. In fact, by the time he left office, Eisenhower had visited 26 countries — perhaps demonstrating that he didn’t mind packing his bags and traveling abroad.
Eisenhower’s travels took him to places as distant as Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Iran, Greece, Tunisia, France, Spain, and even Morocco: all countries he visited late in 1959 to meet with presidents, kings, and prime ministers.
Next: This president became the first to fly by plane across the Atlantic Ocean.
7. Franklin D. Roosevelt made 20 international trips as president
- Took 20 international trips as president
Franklin D. Roosevelt made one international trip as president-elect — and 20 international trips during his time as president. Roosevelt actually became the first sitting president to fly by airplane across the Atlantic Ocean during his tenure as commander in chief.
He crossed the Atlantic during his mission to Casablanca, becoming the first president to leave American soil during wartime. And he also became the first president to visit North Africa while in office.
Next: This president enjoyed numerous memorable trips abroad.
6. Ronald Reagan took 25 international trips as president
- Took 25 trips abroad as president
Ronald Reagan made 25 international trips as president. A few highlights from those numerous trips? Reagan made a memorable speech at the Berlin Wall, calling on Mikhail Gorbachev to dismantle it with the lines, ” Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
The president also spoke in Normandy, France, on the 40th anniversary of D-Day. And he met Queen Elizabeth II of England, riding horses with her at Windsor Great Park.
Next: This president visited many countries.
5. George H.W. Bush made 26 trips abroad
- Made 26 international trips as president
George H.W. Bush made 26 international trips during his tenure as president. And the sheer number of his international destinations makes it seem pretty obvious that Bush loved to travel. He went to Japan, China, and South Korea. He met with the president and prime minister of Italy and had an audience with Pope John Paul II in Vatican City. Then, he traveled to Belgium, Germany, the United Kingdom, Poland, Hungary, France, and the Netherlands.
Bush also went to a summit in Costa Rica and another in Malta. He traveled to Colombia, Canada, and even Finland, where he met with Gorbachev. Bush went to Czechoslovakia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Switzerland, Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Venezuela, and Panama. He even traveled to Australia, Singapore, Korea, and Somalia.
Next: This president made 48 international trips.
4. George W. Bush made a surprise visit to Iraq
- Took 48 trips abroad as president
George W. Bush made 48 international trips during his presidency — 22 more than his father made as commander in chief. The younger Bush visited six continents as president, traveling to Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, South America, and of course, destinations in North America.
One of Bush’s most memorable trips involved a surprise visit to Iraq, where he spent Thanksgiving with American troops. The occasion marked the first visit to Iraq by an American president.
Next: This is how much Barack Obama traveled while in office.
3. Barack Obama traveled 569,480 miles on Air Force One
- Made 52 international trips as president
Barack Obama made 52 international trips during his tenure as president, going down in history as one of the presidents who definitely loved to travel. Obama visited 58 different countries during his presidency. He made headlines just two years into his presidency by becoming the most traveled commander in chief at that time in his tenure, having spent 55 days abroad at that point.
Obama left the Oval Office having taken 156 domestic and international trips, and flying 569,480 miles in Air Force One. However, he remained only the third most traveled president in history, coming in behind Bill Clinton (who took 210 trips) and George W. Bush (who took 190).
Next: This president loved traveling even more than Obama.
2. Bill Clinton visited 75 countries during his presidency
- Made 54 trips abroad as president
Bill Clinton made 54 international trips as president, the most of any commander in chief in American history. Clinton visited a total of 75 different countries during his presidency, according to NerdWallet. “Clinton got off to a slow start, making only 3 international trips (Vancouver, Tokyo and Seoul) in 1993,” the publication explains.
“But over the course of his presidency, he left few corners of the globe untouched. One of his most famed trips was to Amman, Jordan for signing of the 1994 Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace.” Some fans of the president even wished that Clinton could get his own travel show, given that he seems like such an enthusiastic traveler and tour guide.
Next: Here’s how Donald Trump compares so far.
1. Donald Trump seems to like traveling domestically more than internationally
Donald Trump loves traveling — at least if you’re talking about trips to his own properties, like the resort at Mar-a-Lago or his golf course at Bedminster, New Jersey. CNBC reported in January 2018 that Trump’s travel expenses for his first year in office had surpassed $13.5 million.
But in spring 2017, The New York Times reported that Donald Trump has stayed within a more “limited travel radius” than his predecessors. Trump made his first international trip in May 2017, when he visited Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Palestine. On the same trip, he also went to Italy and Belgium. Later in the year, he traveled to Asia, where he visited Japan, Korea, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
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