Donald Trump
13 April 2017: US President Donald Trump boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland Jim Watson/AFP

In the midst of a crisis at home, Donald Trump will be setting off today (19 May) on his first foreign trip as president.

What had started off as a smaller European trip has now turned into an eight-day cross-continental excursion which will take Trump far out of his comfort zone.

He hasn't had the week he would have hoped for in order to prepare for this mammoth trip.

The chaos in Washington has meant less time working on issues such as Middle Eastern power politics, Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, the future of Nato which he savaged on the campaign trail and European concern about the impact of his protectionist trade policies.

It has been reported that Trump had expressed some concern at the length of the foreign trip but there was little room to manoeuvre.

Leaders attending the Nato and G7 summits at the tail end of Trump's trip have been told by organisers to keep their presentations brief – a request made with Trump's short attention span in mind.

"At Nato and the Group of 7 summits, foreign delegations have gotten word that the new US president prefers short presentations and lots of visual aids," AP reported.

Trump has barely left the US over the past couple of years, in fact the last known occasion that he visited another country was to Scotland in June 2016 on the day of the Brexit vote.

It should also be noted that it has taken Trump a very long time to leave the US since becoming president.

His first foreign visit comes later in his tenure than any other president from the past 50 years, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George Bush Snr, George W Bush and Barack Obama all made their initial forays abroad during their first 50 days in office – Trump's will be his 119th.

His choice of location is also important, every president since Reagan chose either Mexico or Canada as their first trip abroad, whereas Trump is choosing the radically different, Saudi Arabia.

Having meetings in Jerusalem, the Vatican and unveiling a Nato war memorial in Brussels, it will be a very different atmosphere for the man used to his Florida resort, Trump Tower in New York or the White House.

Unlike when he has been the host, there will be less control for the billionaire.

Travelling through multiple time zones and staying in new locations – notably there are no Trump hotels or resorts in any of the locations he'll be visiting.

Hardly a day goes by without a tweet, statement or another leak to fuel the already burning fire in Washington.

Former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, a Democrat, told CNN: "He represents the United States, even if we are setting kind of a low bar for this trip – if he doesn't make mistakes. I hope that there is not one single tweet about anything in the nine days he is gone."