O'Malley traveled to Germany, Ireland and Australia when he was mayor of Baltimore. His Berlin trip was to study a magnetic-levitation train prototype that officials are still considering to connect Baltimore and Washington. He also watched the Olympics in Sydney, Australia, a trip he said at the time would help Baltimore if it were to host the games.
Schmoke traveled to Cuba, India and Sweden while mayor. He killed a staff plan to pay for a Bermuda vacation as a Christmas present, according to news accounts at the time.
City Councilman Robert W. Curran says it's a benefit to Baltimore to have Rawlings-Blake interacting with officials across the country.
"She puts the best face of Baltimore forward," he said, adding that her appearances can counter negative impressions some people may have of the city from watching "The Wire."
But Councilman Carl Stokes said the mayor's travel "seems a little high." He added: "I think the greatest place for a city elected official is at home, frankly, but there are certainly events and rationale for leaving the city."
Rawlings-Blake is the city official with the most travel this year, according to city records. Schools CEO Tisha Edwards took 10 trips, housing commissioner Paul Graziano traveled five times, transportation head William Johnson took four trips, and police chief Anthony W. Batts traveled three times.
William Donald Schaefer, who served as mayor of Baltimore from 1971 to 1986, established the tradition of mayors traveling to recruit businesses to the city. Councilwoman Rochelle "Rikki" Spector says those trips helped bring economic development to Pratt Street and around the Inner Harbor.
Spector called the $32,000 Rawlings-Blake spent on travel last year "the cost of doing business" and a boost for the city.
The travel has sometimes come at inopportune times. During a particularly violent weekend in June, Rawlings-Blake, her spokesman and her chief of staff were all out of state at various events. Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi handled questions from the news media — and was fired after saying city officials were "pretty satisfied" with their efforts against violent crime.
Christopher B. Summers, president of the Maryland Public Policy Institute, a conservative think tank, defended the mayor's travel. Summers said that while some might want Rawlings-Blake to be in town to address day-to-day issues such as crime spikes or broken water pipes, those jobs are better handled by her subordinates.
"It's not like the mayor is going to be in a patrol car driving around the city, fighting crime," Summers said. "The mayor is the face of the city. It's her responsibility to travel and showcase Baltimore's assets. It would be more troublesome if she wasn't getting asked to go to these functions."
Baltimore Sun reporter Yvonne Wenger contributed to this article.
Here are the costs to the city of some of the trips Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake took last year. Figures include travel expenses for the mayor's security detail.
•Jan. 17-20: U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Conference, Washington, D.C., $4,400
•Feb. 1-4: Super Bowl, New Orleans, $6,000
•April 20: Black Public Administrators Conference, Atlanta, $500
•May 18-23: International Council of Shopping Centers Conference, Las Vegas, $3,400
•Aug. 1-3: U.S. Conference of Mayors Summer Leadership Meeting, Salt Lake City, $2,000
•Nov. 14-15: Meeting at John Jay College on criminal justice issues, New York, $800
Source: Baltimore City records