Inside Malia Obama's Post White House Jet-Setting Adventures

After spending eight years under the shelter of the White House, Malia and Sasha Obama mostly said goodbye to their lavish lifestyle and embraced their freedom. Like many students, Malia took a gap year before college to explore the world. However, she didn't just jet-set across gorgeous locations, instead choosing to visit places with historical, environmental, and political significance. The former first daughter's desire to learn more about the world in a different context to her peers seemingly stems from her travels during President Barack Obama's tenure.

In a 2013 People interview, Former First Lady Michelle Obama detailed how she wanted to nurture her daughters' curiosity through travel. "We brief them like I'm briefed and like the president is briefed. They get a little packet of material so they understand the history of the country," she explained. "I want my girls to get the entire feel of what it means to be in countries that are not the United States." So, the Obamas took their daughters along for trips to Liberia, Ghana, Russia, and several other places.

When Barack answered questions at the World Travel and Tourism Council Global Summit in 2019, he revealed that his favorite part of traveling wasn't the breathtaking views but the sweet moments when his daughters learned something new about other countries and their cultures. Given all this, it makes perfect sense that Malia chose to spend nearly three months of her gap year exploring Bolivia and Peru. 

Malia Obama trekked through the Andes

Notably, Malia Obama's parents kept her trip firmly under wraps. When The New York Times interviewed the guides who led the expedition, they confirmed that they were only told that a prominent American figure would join them on their journey. So they mistook a blonde woman to be the guest of honor and only learned it was the former first daughter after the trip concluded. They ended up treating Malia like everybody else and entrusted her with chores and cooking duties as normal. 

Gregorio Mamani, one of the guides, shared his overall impression of Malia with the outlet. "She was very humble, chatty, spoke Spanish very well," he recalled. "She was mesmerized by the Bolivian landscape." Malia went on the trip through a gap-year program with the educational touring company Where There Be Dragons. According to their website, the immersive trek through the Andes aimed to help students learn about the communities who resided in the area, better grasp their language through a local tutor, and understand the dire need for environmental conservation. The awesome experience came with a hefty price tag of around $17,000.

Although Former President Barack Obama wanted his daughters to explore the globe and experience different cultures, he had reservations about the trip due to safety concerns. Fortunately, as Bolivia expert Kathryn Ledebur informed The Times, "In spite of significant political differences with the Obama administration, he accepted the visit, understood the significance of the learning experience, and respected Malia's privacy." Since then, Barack has also supported Malia's budding Hollywood career.

Barack Obama also took a life-altering trip in his youth

During Barack Obama's World Travel and Tourism Council Global Summit chat, he shared that after finishing college and starting work, he decided to take a short break to travel to Europe and Kenya all by himself. Like most people fresh out of college, Barack barely had enough money to get by, so he survived on bread and cheese and resided in hostels. After his magical Europe trip concluded, Barack flew over to Kenya to find some commonality with his late father, Barack Obama Sr., who had abandoned him early in his childhood. 

Although the former president never got to know his dad, Barack had the pleasure of meeting his family who lived in Kenya and bonded with them over a safari. The politician shared what he took away from the experience: "Those kinds of trips are memorable because they're part of you as a young person traveling discovering what your place in the world is," (via Kenya News Media). His solo trip remained Barack's most cherished travel memory for a while, but exploring with Malia and Sasha Obama soon overshadowed it. 

In his WTTC interview, the former president gushed about how seeing then-7-year-old Sasha inadvertently dressed as a spy in Russia cracked him up. He also fondly remembered how the family danced around upon landing in Ghana and met the Pope in Italy. As his daughters grew up and moved away, Barack longed for these trips even more because they were a great way to bring the family back together and create lasting memories.