One of the most common criticisms of former president Barack Obama during his two terms in office was that he and his family took an exorbitant number of vacations. Donald Trump, then a private citizen, liked to use Obama’s trips as a critique.

Once Trump took office, his position on trips (and on Obama’s golf habit) shifted dramatically, though the rhetoric of many of his supporters didn’t. While the media tracked Trump’s regular trips to his privately owned properties in Florida and New Jersey, Trump’s supporters regularly defended Trump by pointing to the frequency and cost of Obama’s trips.

Data compiled by the Treasury Department shows the distribution of protected trips within the administration from 2010 to 2016. The figures, obtained and published by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, show that Obama, then-first lady Michelle Obama and their family took about 4,700 trips from 2010 to 2016. Just under 1,000 of those were for members of the president’s family, excluding Michelle. Most of the protected trips that were taken over that period were by former officials, including former presidents and their families.

(The Secret Service defines a protected trip as “any instance that an individual protectee spends time within the jurisdiction of a single USSS field office, other than the protectee’s home district.”)

The data obtained by CREW extended into Trump’s own term in office. In 2017, 2018 and 2019, members of the presidents’ family took 4,560 trips — the bulk of them in the past two years.

The data are collated in government fiscal years, which run from October through the following September, so the 2017 data include about four months of Obama’s presidency. Given that the number of trips by family members jumped from 121 in fiscal 2016 to 1,311 in 2017, it’s safe to assume that Trump’s family has gone on more than 4,000 protected trips since he took office.

There are several reasons that Trump’s family might require more protected trips than did Obama’s. For one, Trump’s children are older and more numerous. Obama’s two daughters were teenagers when they lived in the White House. Four of Trump’s children were college age or older when Trump took office. The Trumps also spend a lot of time traveling, including on official business for the Trump Organization and as surrogates for their father’s campaign and presidency. His daughter Ivanka, of course, is a member of the administration, along with her husband, Jared Kushner.

The distinction is nonetheless stark. Forty percent of the protected trips in 2019 were ones involving members of Trump’s family — again, as distinct from trips taken by Trump and first lady Melania Trump.

In the past two fiscal years, Trump’s family has gone on more than 3,200 protected trips, almost 50 percent more than the number of protected trips taken by former White House officials. The number of trips taken by Trump’s family in the past two fiscal years is more than three times the number taken by Obama’s family from 2010 to 2016. Trump, Melania Trump and his family took about 4,200 trips in fiscal 2018 and 2019 — about as many as Obama, Michelle Obama and Obama’s family took from 2010 through 2015.

Many of Trump’s own trips have been to properties he owns. In recent weeks, though, he hasn’t visited any Trump Organization properties. The coronavirus pandemic has led to the second-longest stretch of Trump’s presidency in which he hasn’t visited a golf course. (The longest stretch was during the government shutdown in 2018–2019.)

In August 2017, the Secret Service announced that without additional funding, its employees would be forced to work overtime without being paid.

As The Post reported at the time, “the cost of protecting the president and members of the extended first family, who have traveled extensively for business and vacations, has strained the Secret Service, local governments and at least one other federal agency, the Coast Guard.”

That, apparently, was just the beginning.


The article originally indicated that the Treasury Department oversaw Secret Service. Trump indicated his intention to move the department back to Treasury from Homeland Security, but that has not happened.