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List of international trips made by the President of the United States


List of international trips made by the President of the United States

The President and First Lady's private quarters on Air Force One, 1990

Presidential international travel first occurred during the 20th century. The first six presidents to travel went by ship. President Woodrow Wilson spent almost seven months in Europe in the Aftermath of World War I. The first four presidential trips by airplane were the four World War II conferences: Casablanca, Tehran, Yalta (Franklin D. Roosevelt attended), and Potsdam (Harry S. Truman attended).

President Dwight D. Eisenhower was the first to travel by jet and the first to travel via helicopter. At the end of his term, he went on several "goodwill tours" . President John F. Kennedy had one of the most memorable trips to Europe as his final trip before he was assassinated. His successor, Lyndon B. Johnson preferred travel to Asia. Richard Nixon set a number of firsts, in particular China. Jimmy Carter spent a great deal of time in the Middle East and went on the first state visit to Africa. Ronald Reagan seemed to perfect the state visit, and was known for his summits with Mikhail Gorbachev.

International travel by a sitting President or a President elect has increased dramatically since Boeing 747, the VC-25, was introduced for the use of the president. The planes have over 4,000 square feet (372 m2) of floor space, a bedroom and a shower, and enough secure communications to allow the plane to be a reasonable place to run the country. The plane is accompanied by a heavy lift aircraft that carries the helicopters and the limousines.

Presidents Bill Clinton have individually visited 74 different countries over their two terms apiece. Together they went to 94 different countries with a combined population of 85% of the world total. President Obama visited 35 countries during his first term in office. As of December 2014, President Obama visited 13 more countries during his second term in office.

Presidential visits of over 10,000 miles (16,093 km) are common. Round the world trips were first done by Johnson and Nixon and have been done by presidents Bush and Clinton. Trips to Europe are almost routine.

The trips are color-coded to unite multiple stops on one trip and the majority of stops in one trip. Yellow indicates a trip mostly to Europe, silver is a trip mostly in Asia, orange is a trip mostly to Latin America, and green is a trip mostly to sub-saharan Africa.

Foreign trips of US Presidents; cadet blue is the United States and light blue was formerly USSR nations that have not been visited by a US president.


  • President Barack Obama 1
  • President George W. Bush 2
  • President Bill Clinton 3
  • President George H. W. Bush 4
  • President Ronald Reagan 5
  • President Jimmy Carter 6
  • President Gerald Ford 7
  • President Richard Nixon 8
  • President Lyndon Johnson 9
  • President John F. Kennedy 10
  • President Dwight D. Eisenhower 11
  • President Harry S Truman 12
  • President Franklin D. Roosevelt 13
  • Presidential International Trips Pre-Aircraft 14
  • See also 15
  • References 16
  • External links 17

President Barack Obama

  • President Obama was joined by First Lady Michelle Obama in April 2009 when they met with Queen Elizabeth. Every president from Dwight Eisenhower (except Lyndon Johnson) has met and dined with The Queen.
  • The previous four POTUS visits since 1998 to sub-Saharan Africa were always dedicated trips conducted at huge expense involving the mobilization of massive military resources. President Obama has suggested that he won't go for the traditional model of devoting a trip to Africa alone. Instead, African nations might be wrapped into his multinational travels more often.
  • President Obama in the beginning of his presidency traveled much more often than President G.W. Bush and President Clinton. President Obama's international travel considerably diminished in his second year in office and as of July 2011 has been to 40 countries, while President Bush had been to 41 in the same time period.
  • When President Obama traveled to Indonesia in November 2010, he was forced to leave Indonesia a few hours earlier than originally scheduled due to the ash plumes from the volcanic eruption of Mount Merapi.
  • President Obama made an unannounced trip to Afghanistan in December 2010, he was forced to leave Afghanistan early than originally scheduled meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul due to the bad weather.
  • President Obama cut short a 24-hour visit to Ireland in May 2011 when an ash cloud from the erupting Grímsvötn volcano in Iceland approached Irish airspace during his visit. He had originally planned to spend the night in Dublin and to leave for London the following day, but flew from Dublin late on the night of his arrival to avoid the risk of being grounded in the morning.
  • President Obama is the first sitting president to visit Cambodia and Myanmar.

President George W. Bush

George W. Bush pays a surprise visit to Baghdad International Airport in Iraq in 2003.

President George W. Bush made a secret trip to Iraq on Thanksgiving 2003 to dine with the troops. His father had made a similar visit to the U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia just after receiving the new VC-25 planes just before Thanksgiving 1990.

Like President Clinton, President Bush made two separate trips to Sub-Saharan Africa. On one trip he visited three of the poorest countries in the world: Liberia, Rwanda, and Benin.

According to the State Department only two of Bush's overseas presidential visits were deemed state visits. One invitation was by Queen Elizabeth II, which Buckingham Palace claimed was the only state visit from an American president. All the other visits were at the invitation of the prime minister who is not the head of state. The second state visit was to Poland.

On 15–20 November 2006, President Bush made the third round the world presidential flight (after LBJ and Nixon). He went to Russia, Singapore, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

President Bill Clinton

Clinton and Russian President Istanbul in 1999.
  • President Clinton did not do much international travel in 1993, his first year in office. The most important trip was the G7 economic summit. He also had a lull during his re-election campaign in 1996.
  • During the last year of his presidency, his daughter Chelsea assumed some White House hostess responsibilities when his wife Hillary was campaigning for the U.S. Senate, traveling with him on several overseas trips and attending state dinners with him.

President George H. W. Bush

George H. W. Bush riding in a humvee with General Schwarzkopf in Saudi Arabia in 1990.
  • President Bush began the frequent international travel pace that is the hallmark of the post–Cold War presidency. He went to Europe 11 times, Asia twice, and South America once, along with a number of shorter trips during his four years as president.
  • He did not receive delivery of the Boeing 747s until almost halfway through his presidency, but his travel pace was high even when he was using the older planes. His trip in September 1990 to Helsinki was his first international trip aboard the new planes. His second involved a Thanksgiving meal with the troops. With the new planes, the president could function from the air with virtually the same efficiency that he had when in the White House.

President Ronald Reagan

Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachov at the first Summit in Geneva in 1985.
President Reagan made 7 trips to continental Europe, 3 to Asia and 1 to South America during his presidency. He is perhaps best remembered for his speeches at the 40th anniversary of the Normandy landings, for his impassioned speech at the Berlin Wall, his summit meetings with Mikhail Gorbachev, and riding horses with the Queen at Windsor Park.

Reagan's presidency would be transitional in international travel. During his term in office, he ordered the two special mission Boeing 747s that would become the new presidential transport to replace the aging Boeing 707s. Heavy lift aircraft could bring security, limousines, and helicopters. After that time, the president had access to inflight bedrooms and showers, boardrooms, and communication equipment and with refueling virtually unlimited range. Summit meetings would proliferate, and international travel would become more of a constant expectation of the presidency.

President Jimmy Carter

Carter and Liberian President William R. Tolbert, Jr. wave from their motorcade during a visit to Monrovia in 1978.
  • President Carter repeated FDR's 1943 Visit to Brazil. He was also the first president to make a state visit to Sub-Saharan Africa when he went to Nigeria in 1978 directly from Brazil.
  • President Carter's travel included 5 trips to Europe and 1 trip to Asia.
  • President Carter's best known travel is his trips to the Middle East to broker his peace negotiations.
  • The G-6 (later 7 and 8) summit meetings started in the presidency of President Ford continued under President Carter. Four of his overseas visits were for those summit meetings.
  • President Carter was invited to Panama City to sign protocol confirming exchange of documents ratifying the Panama Canal treaties.
  • President Carter's meeting with Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in Iran on New Year's Day 1978, was only 13 months before the Shah was overthrown on February 11, 1979.

President Gerald Ford

Ford with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev in Vladivostok in 1974.

President Ford made the first visit of a sitting president to Japan, and followed it with a trip to the Republic of Korea and the Soviet Union (to attend the Vladivostok Summit). He traveled internationally only his first year in office. He stayed within the US for all of 1976.

President Richard Nixon

Nixon's 1972 visit to China was a groundbreaking trip. Here he is shaking hands with Mao Zedong.
  • President Nixon made the unusual move of going on a week long trip to Europe only five weeks after his inauguration. His most famous voyage was to the People's Republic of China, the first by an incumbent President of the United States; he took groundbreaking trips to other Communist-ruled nations as well including Romania (1969), Yugoslavia (1970), and the Soviet Union (1972 and 1974).
  • On July 25, 1969, President Nixon announced his Nixon Doctrine on the island of Guam, in which he said henceforth expected its allies to take care of their own military defense. The next day he proceeded on his round the world tour which included 5 state visits, an unannounced stop in Vietnam, and stops in Romania, and the United Kingdom.
  • In 1972 President Nixon received delivery of the second custom outfitted jet to be used as Air Force One, VC-137C SAM 27000.

President Lyndon Johnson

Johnson during a 1966 visit to South Vietnam.

President Johnson ended up flying 523,000 miles aboard it during his term as president. In his first two years in office he made only one international trip, which was to Canada. He did all of his other international travel from April 1966 to July 1968, and he left the North American continent only four times.

During his full term, LBJ eschewed Europe in favor of Southeast Asia and Latin America. He is the only president serving during Queen Elizabeth II's reign to have never met her. LBJ went to Germany once briefly for the funeral of Konrad Adenauer.

One of the most unusual international trips in presidential history occurred before Christmas in 1967. The President began the trip by going to the memorial service for Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt, who had disappeared in a swimming accident and was presumed drowned. The White House did not reveal in advance to the press that the President would make the first round the world presidential trip. The exhausting trip was 26,959 miles completed in only 112.5 hours (4.7 days). The trip crossed the equator twice, stopped in Travis Air Force Base, Calif., then Honolulu, Pago Pago, Canberra, Melbourne, Vietnam, Karachi and Rome.

President John F. Kennedy

Kennedy speaking at an event in Caracas with Venezuelan President Rómulo Betancourt in 1961.
  • President Kennedy made two trips to Europe along with 6 shorter international trips in the Western Hemisphere.
  • The second trip to Europe was the first trip trans-oceanic trip using the dedicated jet known to the general public by its call sign Air Force One and more specifically as VC-137C SAM 26000. The trip included the famous speech Ich bin ein Berliner at the Berlin Wall, the visit of the first Catholic president to Vatican City, and the trip to Kennedy's ancestral Irish home.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Eisenhower in Madrid in 1959 with Spanish leader Francisco Franco.
  • President Eisenhower visited the Korean War zone as president elect in 1952. For the first 6 years of his presidency he only traveled within North America with the exception of two summit meetings in Geneva and Paris.
  • In 1958, the Air Force added three Boeing 707 jets (designated SAM 970, 971, and 972), 707-153 models, into the presidential fleet. Starting in the summer of 1959 he made 5 major tours in one year to Europe, Southeast Asia, South America, Middle East, and Southern Asia. On his "Flight to Peace" Goodwill tour, from 3 December through 22 December 1959, the President visited 11 nations including 5 in Asia, flying 22,000 miles in 19 days.
  • In his final overseas trip, Ike returned to Korea, and made the first presidential visit to Southeast Asia by stopping in Manila, and Taiwan.
  • By the end of his 8-year term, Ike had visited 26 countries.

President Harry S Truman

After FDR died, Truman attended the Potsdam conference 9 weeks after Germany's unconditional surrender. Nineteen months later he went on state visits in Canada, Mexico and Brazil all within a 6-month period. For the next five years he did not go abroad.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt

The "Big Three" Allied leaders (left to right) at Yalta in February, 1945: Winston Churchill, Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin.
  • FDR did extensive international travel by ship in the 1930s in the Western Hemisphere, frequently for fishing vacations.
  • In 1943 he became the first sitting president to fly an airplane on a secret 16,695 mile mission to Casablanca. The plane for much of his voyage was the legendary Boeing 314 Clipper. Before the war this plane was flying directly across the Atlantic in less than 24 hours. However, war time secrecy forced his route. He went by land to Miami, flew to Trinidad and on to Belem Brazil. From there he flew to The Gambia in northern Africa (this leg took 19 hours). He switched planes and went on to Casablanca. On the return trip he took a 630 mile side trip from Gambia to Monrovia in Liberia.
  • This initial trip to Europe was followed by two more wartime conferences in Europe.

Presidential International Trips Pre-Aircraft

Wilson attended the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.
  • The Panama Canal was the subject of interest for three of the earliest presidential trips abroad. In 1906, Theodore Roosevelt was the first sitting president to travel internationally.[15] William Howard Taft in 1909[16] and Warren G. Harding in 1920[17] visited the Panama Canal as President-elect.
  • Woodrow Wilson was the first sitting president to travel to Europe. He spent nearly 7 months in Europe after World War I, interrupted by a brief return stateside that only lasted for 9 days.[18]
  • Calvin Coolidge's only international trip was to Cuba, where he addressed the Sixth International Conference of American States in 1928.[19]
  • Herbert Hoover made an extensive good-will tour of Latin America in 1928 during the time when he was president-elect.[20]

See also


  1. ^ Travels of President Barack Obama U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian
  2. ^ Travels of President George W. Bush U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian WebCitation archive
  3. ^ Travels of President Bill Clinton U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian WebCitation archive
  4. ^ Travels of President George H. W. Bush U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian WebCitation archive
  5. ^ Travels of President Ronald Reagan U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian WebCitation archive
  6. ^ Travels of President Jimmy Carter U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian WebCitation archive
  7. ^ Joseph, Joel (November 4, 2010). "How Daulatpur Nasirabad became Carterpuri".  
  8. ^ Travels of President Gerald R. Ford U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian WebCitation archive
  9. ^ Travels of President Richard M. Nixon U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian WebCitation archive
  10. ^ Travels of President Lyndon B. Johnson U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian WebCitation archive
  11. ^ Travels of President John F. Kennedy U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian WebCitation archive
  12. ^ Travels of President Dwight D. Eisenhower U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian WebCitation archive
  13. ^ Travels of President Harry S. Truman U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian WebCitation archive
  14. ^ Travels of President Franklin D. Roosevelt U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian WebCitation archive
  15. ^ Travels of President Theodore Roosevelt U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian WebCitation archive
  16. ^ Travels of President William Howard Taft U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian WebCitation archive
  17. ^ Travels of President Warren G. Harding U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian WebCitation archive
  18. ^ Travels of President Woodrow Wilson U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian WebCitation archive
  19. ^ Travels of President Calvin Coolidge U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian WebCitation archive
  20. ^ Travels of President Herbert C. Hoover U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian WebCitation archive

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