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What to Look For When Hiring A Travel Companion

If you’re a senior who wants to travel, you may be like others who welcome the idea of taking another person along for the assistance and social value they offer.  Someone who assists us while traveling can certainly have a lot to offer- and there are some very compelling reasons why this may be a good thing to look into right now. 

Today, it is becoming more common-place for seniors to hire someone to assist them on trips to see their families, go on vacations or attend important events.  It is very comforting to get help with the details during a journey and to get support if plans change along the way. Is this trend here to stay?  Seems likely, but let’s take a closer look.  

In this article we want to offer some pointers to help you choose the right travel companion for travel assistance on a trip. 

What is the role of a Travel Assistant?

The role of a travel companion should always be based on your needs. This person will not just come along for the ride – they will help you to be calm and relaxed and savor every part of your trip. This means both parties should know a little bit about each other personally, your interests, your needs, your pet peeves.  Your personalities should work together when meeting for the first time.  If not, it may not be a good fit from the very start.  It benefits everyone involved to spend a good amount of time discussing as many details prior to a trip.  Ask as many questions as you can before the trip.  They’ll have questions for you too. 

How much will it cost?

The first thing to accept is that hiring a travel companion is not likely to be cheap. Just for starters, if airfare is included, the cost of an additional seat next to you on the plane can be high (planning far enough in advance will help you get better deals). Always make sure that you know the total price and what you will get for your money.  Be sure to nail down who pays for what like travel, lodging and meals, including if there are any delays in returning home.  You’ll have some questions to ask yourself.  Do I have the money? Can my family members help with the cost of a Travel Assistant?  Is this trip an opportunity that I’ll be sorry if I miss, like a wedding, family reunion, special birthday, concert…what’s most important to you?  

What Do I Have to Disclose about My Health?

In order to do a good job, a travel companion will need to know if you have any health issues or have difficulty getting around. Here’s where it gets a little tricky.  While a paid travel assistant can’t directly ask you about your medical conditions and limitations, it’s vitally important for you to proactively share about any medical conditions, handicaps or limitations you have. There is a solution to everything and your travel assistant will need to know what he or she is dealing with to make sure it’s within their comfort zone. Some seniors have medical issues and require a registered nurse as a travel companion. Assistance with medication, dressing, bathing, eating and toileting is not within everyone’s skill-set, or in some cases even legal to perform without a license.   

Proper Planning 

Some travel companions will be willing to help you make travel arrangements..  The best travel arrangements are a team effort involving the travelers, their families, friends, employers, doctors and others. Everyone should be involved somewhat in the travel arrangements even if you prefer to do it yourself. A good travel companion will want to assist you in every way that they can so they’ll need to know all aspects of your travel plan.

Proper planning for your trip is really important.  If a travel assistant offers to help, don’t expect them to take care of every single detail for you.  They are not your servant, they are your assistant. They’ll need your full participation & maybe the participation of your family, your doctors, your extended network.  You can relax once the planning is done, but planning is always a group effort.

What to Pack

On the day of your trip your Travel Assistant can take you to the airport by car or public transportation.  Start your trip extra early to make sure your trip doesn’t get derailed even before it starts because of an unforeseen traffic jam. Make sure you get there ahead of time. They may be able to carry an extra bag for you, but pack as light as possible & remember they’ll be carrying their own luggage as well.  Rolling luggage is a good option, then, at a minimum they will be there to lift the luggage when needed.  They’ll do their best to ensure that the check-in process goes as smoothly as possible, helping you through the security checkpoints and making sure that you get to the departure gate in good time (assuming you’re flying the first leg of the trip).

If you’ll need wheelchair assistance let the airline know when you first book your ticket.  Also, if you’ll need personal assistance during a flight, make sure to ask to be seated together on the airplane.   

Travel Assistants Have Lives Too

If you want your assistant to stay with you for the entire trip then give them an idea of what personal time they’ll be able to plan, like how often and how long to check-in with their families, answer emails, “surf” the internet on their phones. Remembering that they have families and friends back home who they’d like to stay connected with, within reason, is a great way to build mutual respect. Let them know ahead of time what you expect and what personal freedoms they’ll have to work with.

Roads Trips Are An Alternative

As of the writing of this article, a lot of people are making road trips as an alternative to air travel because of the threat of the coronavirus. There are special CDC guidelines and precautions to take for road trips as well, including but not limited to sanitizing your vehicle before your journey starts and keeping it clean throughout the trip.

To avoid the COVID-19 threat, it’s a good idea to minimize the number of stops that you make on a road trip. Try to plan a route that’s short, but still convenient to stores or medical facilities if needed.  Take enough supplies to keep stops at stores and restaurants to a minimum. 

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Remembering to Take Essential Items

No matter how hard we plan, we always forget something.  A travel assistant might be useful in double checking that you’ve taken essential items with you on your road trip. Taking nonperishable foods and beverages in a cooler is a good way to prevent some stops. Also ensure that you have the necessary masks, disinfectant wipes and other cleaning and sanitizing products in the car because it might be a “sold out” situation at stores near the highway.

Have a Spare Tire

The last thing that you will want on a road trip is for your car to break down. A travel assistant might be able to help make an assessment as to whether your vehicle is suitable for the journey, or recommend renting a car if necessary.

They can also check that you have a spare tire and the tools to fix a flat, a battery booster or jumper cables, maybe even some extra gas if your route is very remote.  You just never know what can happen with a long car journey.

Is My Travel Assistant Trustworthy?

Before hiring a travel companion, can you trust them?

There is nothing more important than trust (and good communication), and nothing more difficult to determine when meeting a new person. Also, you may feel more comfortable with someone from a certain background such as social work, law enforcement or the medical world? 

Maybe you prefer a woman Travel Assistant or a man? Bottom line, use due diligence and common sense to find someone that makes you feel completely comfortable. Your family should approve of them as well. 

If you’re hiring someone new to you, consider performing a background check on the individual? If you require medical assistance on your trip, what credentials does the person legally need to be able to help you? How much travel experience do they have? Do they have a track record? What was their previous occupation? What is their general disposition and motivation for helping you, is it just for the money?

Physical Fitness

One of the most important reasons to have a travel assistant will be to help you lift luggage, balance when walking, push a wheelchair, drive or other physical activity. So, are they in good physical shape? They may need to push you around in a wheelchair for several hours, not the other way around. All of this requires a degree of physical fitness.  In addition to physical fitness, they must be able to maintain good personal hygiene and be willing to dress appropriately for your trip.

Insurance Cover

While not required, travel insurance is a good idea for trips that might get canceled due to missed connections, illnesses that arise or other reasons. Check the policies.  Make sure they include the things you are concerned with.

Travel Assistants at TripTrustees

We take great pride in recruiting our Travel Assistants.  They have to demonstrate to us that they have your interests at heart above everything else. Most of our Travel Assistants stay with us a long time because they are committed to helping people like you make the trips that you want to take.  Their priority is for you to be as safe, as relaxed and as stress-free on your journey as possible.

You can ask your TripTrustees Travel Assistant anything. They will be delighted to help you at all times so just tell them what is on your mind and they will do their best to accommodate.  

At TripTrustees, our goal is to put you in contact with some of the best qualified travel companions in the industry.  So please contact us at 850-391-8040, online at www.TripTrustees.com or via email at [email protected]

Trustworthy Travel Assistants

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