When President Barack Obama – or “vacationer-in-chief”, as he’s been called by Republican critics – heads for the exit door this winter, he’ll have taken around 200 days off since assuming office eight years ago. But he’s far from the worst White House holiday offender.
That dubious honour goes to Former President George W. Bush, who amassed a whopping 879 out-of-office days during his two terms. There’s never a good time to go, but even the most powerful leaders need a holiday. And Bush needed plenty.
So where can a president, or president-in-waiting, best seek out R&R while still maximizing on those all-important poll numbers? If you’re keen to travel like Obama, or presidential hopefuls Clinton and Trump, here’s our pick of the ultimate presidential getaways this summer.
Follow Obama to Massachusetts or Oahu
When staffers are out on the campaign trail, and Washington DC is quieter than usual, the Obamas pack up the camper (well, the presidential motorcade) and head to the beach houses and golf courses on Martha’s Vineyard, off the coast of Massachusetts.
A long-time White House favourite – Bill Clinton is also a frequent out-of-towner – the island is a hit with Michelle and the girls, as well as Obama’s security detail: its isolation means they can track everyone entering and leaving the atoll with pinpoint accuracy. We can only imagine this helps Obama let loose, go unshaven and wander around in regrettable shorts.
To really understand Barack, however, you need to understand Hawaii. Head to Honolulu on Oahu, where the President grew up and spent his college years. Try a Hawaiian lunch at the restaurants in Kapahulu, a neighbourhood on the outskirts of Waikiki, or bodysurf and pec-flex (as Obama is known to do) at Sandy Beach Park, his childhood surf break.
Holiday like Hillary in the Hamptons
As perhaps the only person standing between America and the apocalypse, presumed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is owed more time off in lieu than anyone. Gone are the days when she has time for ranch holidays in Wyoming or bike tours of Martha's Vineyard. Nowadays, with so much at stake, she’s keeping Capitol Hill in her cross-hairs, venturing no farther afield than Montauk in the Hamptons to rub shoulders with wealthy donors and the Manhattan elite.
For the second year in a row, the Clinton clan have rented a four-bed, $50,000-per week mansion in Amagansett, a village no stranger to paparazzi: over the years, Marilyn Monroe, Paul McCartney, Sarah Jessica Parker and Lou Reed have all owned homes there. At that price, the sea views and sweeping beaches must surely be worth it.
Join Trump for a round of golf
Few business moguls, let alone presidential nominees, brag about screwing their investors, then make fun of people’s looks, despite sporting one of the world’s silliest comb-overs. Yet few are quite like Donald Trump.
It can be hard to keep an open mind when considering his crude populism, which is just as well, because his outspoken views on where he holidays are just as barmy: the golf obsessive famously only goes to places he owns. In his own words, what does a Big Kahuna like him want to sit in somebody else’s resort for?
Recent destinations include Turnberry in Ayrshire and Balmedie outside Aberdeen, both in Scotland. He also soaks up the ocean views at Doonbeg in Ireland, the Floridian sun at Doral on the Miami coast and the Pacific coastline at Rancho Palos Verdes outside Los Angeles. They're all in Trump’s golf portfolio, if you hadn’t already guessed.
Play a round Donald’s way by pursing your lips, tilting your chin and riling up the local members enough that you risk coming face-to-face with a 3-iron. Business at usual at Trump Towers, then.
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Saddle-up with George W. Bush in Texas
Bush amassed more presidential holidays than anyone before him. That included 77 trips to his 1600-acre Prairie Chapel Ranch in the Texas countryside near Waco, where he spent more than a year of his Presidency. Unashamedly, Bush preferred the horse ranches and hot desert climes of the Lone Star State to the street-corner skulk of the secret service in DC.
Here, he was to be found fishing, painting and horse-rising, or bumbling around under a strand of ancient oaks with a chainsaw.
But the 43rd US Commander-in-Chief also had time for family, which took him to George Bush Senior’s presidential retreat in Kennebunkport, Maine, on the New England coast, often with younger brother and failed Presidential hopeful Jeb at his heels. When the Texas flag is flying outside, you know the Bushes are in town.
Like JFK before him, who holidayed at Hyannis Port, his family’s retreat near Boston, Bush used his dad’s Walker’s Point compound to show what he was really like. Namely, showboating in a power cruiser, then playing best friends with Vladimir Putin in an event so theatrically stupid it was dubbed the ‘Lobster Summit’ – angling for a US-Russia truce, the Bushes went fishing, yet spectacularly failed to catch anything. Putin, of course, did.
Explore more of the USA with the Rough Guide to the USA. Compare flights, find tours, book hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to buy travel insurance before you go. Featured image Pixabay / CC0.