Through the beginning of May, Donald Trump hadn’t gone very far. Most of the trips he’d made as president were to his own properties in Florida and Virginia; he never once spent the night at any property that didn’t start with “White” or “Trump.”
That changes Friday, as Trump sets out on an ambitious trip that will take him to the Middle East and Europe through May 27. In fact, compared with the first foreign trips undertaken by other presidents, it’s unusual in both its length and focus.
The first person to travel out of the country as president was Teddy Roosevelt, who went to the under-construction Panama Canal and Puerto Rico. Since then, every president except Herbert Hoover has left the country at least once. Usually — particularly among recent presidents, the first trip is to Canada. The first trips of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were all to our neighbor to the north. The second most common destination was south, hitting Mexico, Central America or the Caribbean. While Trump will also make stops in Europe, he starts in the Middle East, the first president to do so.
The complexity of Trump’s trip — about which, reporting suggests, he’s not enthusiastic — is exceptional for a president.
Below, the first forays of each of those presidents who have left the United States during their time in office. Most of them made one stop abroad and then returned to Washington. The only comparable first presidential trips are those of Woodrow Wilson and Richard Nixon; one could argue that Trump’s is more complex than either’s.
Trump’s departing on his trip later than normal, and it remains to be seen how it progresses. But credit where it’s due: Trump’s trip is an unusually complex one.