And during the eighth year of an administration, that tendency becomes stronger than ever because a lame-duck chief executive often has minimal clout with Congress but retains wide latitude in implementing foreign policy.
It turns out that President Bush, whose job approval with voters is at a low ebb, will continue the eighth-year tradition with a full schedule of overseas trips in 2008.
In April, he plans to follow tradition and attend the annual NATO summit, this time in Bucharest, Romania.
In July, he visits the annual Group of Eight summit of industrialized democracies on the Japanese island of Hokkaido.
In August, Bush will fly to Beijing for the Olympics--just as the major parties are getting ready for their nominating conventions to choose his successor.
In November, it's the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Lima, Peru.
Bush has also told advisers he'd like to visit Africa, the Middle East, and western Europe.
And some White House insiders say he wants to pay a final trip to Iraq and Afghanistan to visit U.S. troops and talk with regional leaders about the need to stay the course in fighting terrorism.
By Kenneth T. Walsh