(House Republicans on codel in Istanbul. Photo credit: Turkish Coalition of America)

Just because you’re leaving Congress at the end of the year doesn’t mean you can shirk your sworn duties to take your spouses on enviable trips overseas.

The skeptics among us may assume these luxury jaunts are just free vacations for departing members, but that’s simply not true.

These trips are fact-finding missions to rub elbows with important leaders in places that could benefit your constituents in the next nine months. (And are in no way to help members prepare for life in the private sector.) Though the Republicans pictured above may look ready for a round of golf, they were having a serious meeting about trade with business types.

Eight House members — including three who are not running for reelection–  are off over the House’s two-week vacation on a lovely trip that, after a brief stop to see the troops in Afghanistan, took them to Portugal and Turkey.

Lame- duck Reps. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) and Tom Latham (R-Iowa) joined their pal Speaker John A Boehner (R-Ohio) on the all- GOP congressional delegation to South Asia and Europe. Others on the trip include John Kline (R-Minn.), Greg Walden (R-Ore.), Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and Steve Womack (R-Ark.).

The delegation flew to the United Arab Emirates, where their wives waited, according to Boehner’s office, and then continued on for visits to Turkey and Portugal. Most likely their working days were packed, but we hope they found time for a pastry at Pasteis de Belem in Lisbon or cocktails on the rooftop at Mikla in Istanbul.

Remember, outgoing members can travel on “codels” until Election Day, so to the other 20-some retiring House members, get your requests in now.