Donald Trump looks set to surpass Barack Obama's 8 years of travel spending in just 1 year

US President Donald Trump boarding the Air Force One before departing from Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Florida, on March 19, 2017.
US President Donald Trump boarding the Air Force One before departing from Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Florida, on March 19, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump's travel to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida has cost over US$20 million (S$28 million) in his first 80 days as president, putting him on course to surpassing - in just his first year in office - Barack Obama's travel spending for his entire eight years.

Trump has so far spent six weekends, or 21 days in total, at his exclusive resort in Palm Beach, and the estimated total costs are around US$21.6 million, CNN news network reported.

Obama spent just under US$97 million on travel in his eight years as president, according to documents reviewed by Judicial Watch, a conservative government watchdog.

Obama's trips included work trips as well as personal travel -ski trips to Aspen and the annual family vacation in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.

The CNN report said estimating the security costs of a presidential trip is difficult due to variations in each trip. But a 2016 Government Accountability Office report on a four-day Florida trip Obama took in 2013 - similar to Trump's trips - cost the Secret Service and Coast Guard US $3.6 million.

Trump's frequent weekend travel makes it all but certain that he will surpass Obama's travel spending in his first term, likely within months, CNN reported.

Before he became US president, Trump had often criticised Obama's travel expenses . "President @BarackObama's vacation is costing taxpayers millions of dollars----Unbelievable!" he once tweeted in 2012.

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said: "This is an expensive way to conduct business, and the president should recognise that".

"The unique thing about President Trump is that he knows what it costs to run a plane," Fitton said about Trump's travel to Mar-a-Lago. He suggested Camp David may be the better choice, since the president can easily get there by helicopter.

Trump's trips to Mar-a-Lago resort will likely stop after May, when the weather in the area becomes too hot, according to CNN.

Many are expecting Trump to start making frequent trips to his penthouse at Trump Tower in New York - where First Lady Melania is still living with their son Baron, who is attending school there.

There have been calls for Congress to reimburse New York city for the cost of protecting Trump's penthouse on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue. Police officials estimate that it would cost New York US$500,000 a day, or US$183 million a year, to guard Trump Tower, the Washington Post reported.

The newspaper said funding the Trump family's complex travel and protection needs may not be the only issue.

"There was an anticipation of how stressful it was going to be" on the Secret Service, said Jonathan Wackrow, a 14-year Secret Service employee who served during Obama's administration. "But the harsh reality is that the stress is just overwhelming."

Wackrow was quoted as saying that agents are "at severe risk of burnout."