What started as a mere Facebook thought is now bugging me and refuses to let go -so I've done some research.
Background: After watching the evening news I realized that everytime the Obama family goes somewhere, the anchor follows it up with "the Obama's paid their own expenses" - whether it is a hometown visit to Chicago, or a trip to Paris during summit meetings, or the Grand Canyon, or this week's vacation to Martha's Vineyard. There seems to be a great effort to reassure the public that the Obama's are picking up their own tab.
I really can't recall every hearing this for any other president, for either party, whether it was Dubya's family flying to Crawford with Laura and the twins (total vacation time was 77 trips totaling 1020 days, or 2.8 years of his 8 year term), or Reagan (flying cross-country to his ranch also for 866 days, or 2.4 years of his 8 year term)(what is it with Republicans and ranches?), or Clinton (closest number I could find was 174 days in 8 years, also fond of vacationing in Martha's Vineyard).
Historically speaking, our earlier presidents took longer vacations at a single time(probably owing to the more time-consuming travel of that day): James Madison disappeared for four months in 1816; John Adams' wife Abigail fell ill at the height of our war with France, and John went home for seven months to sit with her (his political enemies claimed he had abdicated); and my favorite president, Thomas Jefferson spent ten months on vacation as vice-president, and another three months as president (he missed Monticello terribly and felt no real need to be in Washington). President Chester Arthur wandered all over the country and refused to say why - it wasn't until a year after his death that it was revealed he suffered from Bright's Disease and was looking for a climate that didn't aggravate the symptoms. But at the time, it was written off as vacation.
Which president took the least amount of vacation?
That would be Jimmy Carter. President Carter took only 79 days of vacation over his four-year term, which averages out to just under 20 days per year (I received more as a lowly sales rep). Normally, he went back to his home in Georgia. No info as to whether he paid for Rosalyn and Amy's travel expenses.
No mention of any president picking up their families expenses. And, to be fair, no mention of anyone interested in them doing so.