I have heard many complaining that Donald Trump costs the government large sums of money to secure him when he is in a US location other then the White House. Including when he was staying at the Trump Tower before moving to the White House and his trips to Florida on weekends.

Is the expense, both for securing him and in terms of lost productivity to the location he travels/stays at due to places being shut down to secure him, noticeably larger for Trump then it was for other sitting presidents?

  • 2
    He's only been in office for a few months, so hard to compare. Though at this pace, yes, he'll be an expensive one.
    – user1530
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 2:32
  • It's really hard to answer this question. The "costs" that are being grouped together with his "Travel Costs" are all over the place in regards to estimates, and we don't have real numbers yet. But I gave it a shot. In addition the "popular info-graphic" is not really part of the question, but it's hard to talk about this topic without bringing it up, and the data presented on the "Red side" is 100% estimated based on Obama's trips (which may or may not be fair)
    – coteyr
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 18:47
  • @blip not only he'll be the most expensive POTUS, apparently the current first family will be the most expensive FFOTUS in terms of travels. Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 3:41

2 Answers 2


Apparently yes.

According to this article by Bustle, his travel cost would exceed Obama's by a huge margin.

A graphic shared widely on Reddit last week, which compiled data gathered from The Washington Post, set the two presidents' very different spending habits side-by-side. Trump's first month alone illustrates a hefty price tag — he has spent nearly $10 million in travel during his first 30 days as president, while Obama spent $12 million per year.

[ ... ]

If Trump's cost of travel stays consistent throughout his entire presidency, he is set to outpace Obama by a long shot. If he stays in office for one term, his travel costs could reach $480 million. A second term could see that price tag skyrocketing to $960 million. In comparison, Obama's travel cost hit a mere $97 million throughout his eight years in the White House.

(emphasise mine)

This $10 million's "calculated from an October 2016 Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimate of presidential travel costs to Florida" according to an article by Vox.

The figure for Trump’s trips, calculated from an October 2016 Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimate of presidential travel costs to Florida, includes only the expenses associated with Trump’s three trips to Mar-a-Lago — which he’s dubbed the “winter White House” — since the inauguration. It doesn’t factor in other costs, such as his adult sons’ recent trip to the United Arab Emirates to open the new Trump-branded golf resort and the associated Secret Service tab.

This article by The Washington Post details the cost of his trips which would be useful if you want to get a sense on how the money is spent:

What really jumped out at some people, though, was that Trump was proposing cuts to some relatively low-cost programs shortly before he prepared to fly to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. According to an analysis from Politico, that’s a trip that costs about $3 million each time — and it’s a trip that he’s made four times this year.

But it's also due to the fact that he travels more than his predecessors:

Part of that is due to Trump’s frequent trips to his Mar-A-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Florida. St. Patrick’s Day weekend marked the fifth time Trump made the trip to Mar-A-Lago since he was inaugurated Jan. 20. In part because of high security costs, each trip to Florida costs an estimated $3 million. After five trips to his “Winter White House,” Trump’s trips will have cost taxpayers an estimated $15 million.

Lastly, this's the graphic that's "shared widely on Reddit":




So after doing a little research, it would seem that the "Presidential Travel Costs" are higher. But unfortunately, it's not an apples to apples comparison. Mostly it seems that the graph is comparing "estimates" to reported costs. Some (or most) of these estimated costs may be way higher then they actually are. It also seems that the number listed includes money spent before Trump became president. Looking at the Mar-a-largo trips only (which the graph seems to do), the estimated costs actually come from Obama's trips to the area. When looking at the larger idea of "more expensive" the actual "expense" is not yet known and the estimates are based on numbers like $1,000,000 a day from New York, which turned out to be more like $308,000 a day. Still a big number, but a far cry from $1,000,000.

While it's hard to find exact numbers Sites like https://thinkprogress.org/trump-first-month-travel-expenses-11-million-a1feb6cd829b seem to indicate that the costs also include expenses for his wife, sons, etc. etc.

It's also important to note that the costs are estimates and not real numbers. Some of those estimates are based on Obama's travels and not Trump's.

Some intresting excerpts from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2017/03/17/how-much-is-donald-trumps-travel-and-protection-costing-anyway/?utm_term=.5f6602bb3066

We can start with the Trump Tower number. The million-dollars-a-day figure was sourced to three city officials, reflecting the city’s costs.

In February, the city of New York detailed precisely how much it had been spending to provide additional security at Trump’s home. Between the election and the inauguration, when Trump was living there as president-elect, the city spent about $308,000 a day. Once Trump moved to Washington, the city expects that the cost will be up to $145,000 a day when Trump isn’t visiting. (He hasn’t since being inaugurated.) That’s sharply lower than $1 million a day.

As pointed out, that no where near the estimated $1 million a day.

There were also reports about the Secret Service and the military seeking to rent space in Trump Tower to aid in supporting the president. It’s not clear whether that’s happened or how much space has been rented. (The Secret Service denied that it was planning to rent space.)

CNN estimated that one of the floors of space reportedly under consideration could cost $1.5 million a year — or about $4,100 a day. If those numbers are all correct, and if the military rents that floor, the total for protecting Trump’s family in New York is a bit under $200,000 a day, including New York City’s costs.

Again this is if they rent space, and it they rent that much space. We don't know yet (I think) that they are, or what kind of price they will get if they do, but Trump hasn't been back to Trump tower sense he became president.

Politico’s $3 million-plus estimate was based on an October 2016 Government Accountability Office report on a trip President Barack Obama took in 2013 — a report that The Post has also cited. That 2013 trip, which included a stop in Palm Beach, Fla., cost $3.6 million, $3.2 million of which was the cost of aircraft.

Airforce one, and it's support, is expensive there is no way around that. But the estimates used for "Trump's Costs" came from Obama's trip. Which is fair, IMO, but should be noted.

In part, it’s the cost of support aircraft. That 2013 trip included five other planes and four helicopters as part of Obama’s overall team, serving defense and short-distance transport roles. (The president goes to and from Andrews Air Force Base by helicopter, for example.) But that trip also included an unrelated trip to Illinois, meaning a much more complicated ballet of movement than Trump’s Mar-a-Lago trips would require.

Basically, did Trump take the same number of helicopters and side trips? If not then his costs may be more or less, it depends.

A five-hour trip to Palm Beach, then, would be about $2 million — $514,000 times four hours. This is a very loose estimate, mind you, but it seems more fair than $3.6 million.

So, again, and the main article is important to read, the number seems to "adjust" down from the estimate considerably, and even the source of the number states that is a "very loose estimate".

  • Why is comparing estimates to actual figures a problem? Do you have any specific concerns about how those estimates were produced? Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 18:46
  • Well, normally I would say no, But if you look at the $1,000,000 dollar a day estimate v.s. the actual $308,000 real cost, you get a very different picture. Same with the Mar-a-largo trips. $3.6m and $2m is a big gap. Specially when multiplied. For example, assuming 3 trips a month that either $130m or $72m
    – coteyr
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 18:49
  • Of course both 3.6m and 2m are estimates, that's just a hell of a gap.
    – coteyr
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 18:50
  • I wonder if this could be updated now that there is a full year.
    – user9389
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 21:35

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