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Dear Savvy Senior,

Do you know of any services that help seniors with the rigors of traveling? My youngest daughter is getting married in a few months and would love to have my 82-year-old mother attend, but she needs help flying across the country.

– Searching Daughter

 

Dear Searching,

Traveling can be daunting under the best circumstances, but for elderly seniors, those with disabilities, or those recovering or rehabilitating from an illness or injury, it can seem particularly overwhelming or unmanageable.

Fortunately, there are a number of companies that provide traveling companion/escort services to help older adults with the rigors of travel.

Whether it’s seniors going on vacation or grandparents wanting to join their far-off families for weddings and graduations, travel companions help clients who need help moving through airports, managing luggage, navigating busy terminals and hotel lobbies, and much more.

Some companion services even provide personal care, such as medication reminders, dressing, bathing, and feeding. And for those with specific medical needs, traveling nurse services are available too.

But be aware that these services aren’t cheap. You will pay for the travel companion’s tickets, the companion’s hotel room if necessary, meals, incidentals, and fees for the service.

The price to accompany a client on a plane trip within the United States — including the companion fees and travel costs for all parties — can range anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 or more for coach airfare.

Business or first class would cost more.

To locate a travel-companion service in your area, search online for “senior travel companion” or “senior travel escort,” followed by your mom’s city or state.

Or use an experienced national service, such as Flying Companions (www.flyingcompanions.com) or FirstLight Home Care (www.firstlighthomecare.com), which has a national network of franchises that provide in-home care for seniors and offers travel companion programs in about one-third of its 130 franchises.

Or, for medical travel companions, do a search for “traveling nurse escort” or “medical travel companion,” or check out Travel Care & Logistics (www.yourflightnurse.com), which provides registered nurses as escorts.

If, however, your mom doesn’t require a lot of assistance, or if you can’t afford a travel escort, consider asking a trusted family member or friend that has some air travel experience.

 

Questions to Ask

If you’re interested in hiring a travel-companion service to help your mom, there are a number of things you need to check into to ensure you get the right escort.

First, if your mom requires personal or medical care while traveling, find out if the escort is trained to manage her healthcare needs. What sort of medical certifications do they have (nursing credentials, CPR training, etc.)?

Also, find out how many trips the companion has taken with clients. Have they completed trips with travelers like your mom? How long has the travel service company been in business?

What is the company’s safety record? And what sort of insurance does it carry, and what and whom does it cover?

Also, get a quote breaking down exactly what you’ll be required to pay, in addition to the companion’s fees. And, get a list of two or three clients/references who have used their service and call them.

 

Jim Miller is a regular contributor to the NBC Today show and author of The Savvy Senior Book. www.savvysenior.org

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