The president’s apparent giddiness about skipping Davos reflects his broader disdain for travel. Trump has lived in a tighter bubble than most American presidents. He prefers to leave the White House for one of two destinations: Mar-a-Lago—his Palm Beach, Florida, resort—or a campaign rally, where he can feed off the energy from his supporters and enjoy playing the part of master of ceremonies.
That’s why his decision on Davos, to the officials, was so unsurprising. At rallies and at his homes, surrounded largely by people who support him, Trump can be himself, touting the same lines and arguments from the campaign trail to little criticism. On the world stage, however, Trump is forced to contend with leaders who have ideas and styles drastically different from his own. That’s been true for every president, but rather than embrace it, Trump seems to actively look for opportunities to avoid it—a proclivity that likely impedes his ability to champion the country around the globe.
“The president hates traveling, but when he does, he’d much rather travel to a rally where he’s surrounded by regular people than something where he has to rub elbows with global elites,” a third former White House official said. “It makes him uncomfortable.”