When the job helps beat your travel bucket list

Do you have a dozen places you want to visit? Would it help if someone else footed the bill? And if you have a diplomatic passport to avoid lines at immigration?

It seems that part of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s plan for his term in office involves ticking off a dozen or so destinations on his travel bucket list:

After taking office last year, Pruitt drew up a list of at least a dozen countries he hoped to visit and urged aides to help him find official reasons to travel, according to four people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal agency deliberations. Pruitt then enlisted well-connected friends and political allies to help make the trips happen.

This is hardly the first time Pruitt’s travel planning stirred up controversy. His decision to fly first class on domestic work trips for “security” reasons while flying in economy when he has to foot the bill raised eyebrows. So did his choice to fly on Emirates home from a conference in Italy earlier this year when a more efficient itinerary was available.

Don’t get me wrong: I also ask friends for help and advice when planning my travels. Booking tours and planning itineraries goes better when you can rely on the experience of others. And when your friends just happen to have access to the Prime Minister of Israel or a private tour of the Vatican Library I suppose you take them up on those offers.

Though maybe not when the optics of the visits are so ridiculously awful. And Pruitt’s are pretty bad. He’s bringing his friends in to official government meetings, essentially using his position to help those colleagues score new business. It happened in Morocco (or that was just spectacularly convenient timing). And the previously mentioned Italy trip with the Vatican visit included similar arrangements, though it is less clear that a business deal resulted.

The fact that he keeps planning trips then canceling them is also slightly bizarre. I’m sure there are good reasons at some level, but getting deep into the planning process only to cancel the trip is silly expensive. Though when the trip doesn’t actually happen the numbers aren’t quite as jarring, so I guess that is slightly better.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. I’m really shocked to see that there might be some corruption in this administration. Everything so far has seemed so squeaky clean.

  2. Lol at govt waste…I was once on a biz trip to Dallas that spanned a weekend. I visited Reunion Tower (not really all that awesome) and expensed the ticket since I was required to be there over the weekend…it was rejected. Does govt need more oversight? 🙂

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