There was the weekend trip for President Barack Obama and his daughters to New York, including a Broadway show and a private museum tour.
The ski trip to Aspen, Colorado, for first lady Michelle Obama in February.
And lots and lots of golf in Florida, Southern California and Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.
Now as the Obama family departs Friday on its annual holiday vacation to Hawaii, new estimates put the price tag of the Obamas’ 2015 trips that are all or largely personal at $11.6 million for travel costs alone, according to the conservative group Judicial Watch, based on federal government records. That brings the overall cost of personal or largely personal travel to at least $70.5 million since Obama took office in 2009, according to the group’s analysis.
The costs of Air Force One and other government planes as well as helicopters, limos and other unique parts of presidential travel often raise questions about the need.
“My gosh, we can’t afford it,” said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, which is pushing for less personal travel and for security changes.
But others call it a necessary part of security and convenience for a commander-in-chief.
“In this environment, I don’t think anyone on either side of the aisle is advocating for them to do less,” said Dave Carney, a White House political director for President George H.W. Bush and a critic of what he called posh Obama vacations. “No one wants to say we need less security and then something happens.”
The White House disputes the travel numbers, saying that some of the trips the group cites include work activities.
Obama’s trip to California in June, for example, included a speech to U.S. Conference of Mayors in San Francisco as well as golf in Palm Springs. Michelle Obama’s trip to the United Kingdom and Italy with her mother and daughters that same month included promotion of a girls’ education initiative; participation in the presidential delegation to the World’s Fair and a visit to U.S. military service members.