Government records show first lady Melania Trump racked up roughly $174,000 USD in hotel bills during her 12-hour trip to Toronto, Canada in September 2017, Quartz reports. It was the American first lady's first solo trip abroad without her husband, U.S. President Donald Trump.
According to Quartz, it was not immediately clear how the first lady's office racked up the charges. Government records show six separate hotel bills, which costs ranged from roughly $12,000 to $49,000 USD for a total of about $174,000 USD. Transportation costs for the trip came at an additional $21,000 USD. The hotel costs for Trump's advance team were significantly less, clocking at around $18,000 USD.
In a statement to Quartz, the first lady's communications director Stephanie Grisham declined to provide details of the expenses, because they fall under the purview of the U.S. State Department. She added: "What I can tell you is that when the President or First Lady travels, there are people who travel ahead on the advance team to ensure safety measures, medical care, communications, motorcade needs and logistics are all in place. Mrs. Trump travels with a much smaller contingent of staff than that of her predecessors, but the entities I mentioned above are legally required for all official travel."
Like her predecessor, Michelle Obama, Trump has so far traveled significantly less than other American president spouses in the past. (During her husband's eight-year tenure, Obama made 22 foreign trips and spent 116 days outside of the U.S., compared to Laura Bush's 46 trips and 212 days for Bush and Hillary Clinton's 47 trips and 274 days.)
The first family's travel costs have come under scrutiny because of U.S. President Trump often railed in the past that the trips taken by the Obamas were a waste of taxpayer money. Melania Trump's trips in particular have been in the public's radar: Before she officially left Manhattan and moved to the White House, her military flights to and from Florida, New York, and Washington, D.C came at a price tag of $675,000 USD. And during her first solo tour to Africa, her team spent $95,050 USD at a hotel in Cairo, Egypt, even though her stop there only lasted six hours. Trump also didn't spend the night at the hotel then.