Dear-savvy senior: I’m interested in finding some sort of travel companion to help my elderly parents fly across the country. My son is getting married in the fall and would love my parents to be with me, but they are both in their 80s and have health issues so need help getting there. Can you direct me to travel services that can help us? — help wanted
Dear looking: Travel can be challenging under the best of circumstances, but it can be unmanageable for seniors with medical conditions, physical limitations, or dementia. Fortunately, today there are a variety of companies that offer travel companions/escort services to help older adults with the rigors of travel.
A good travel companion can provide your parents with transportation to and from the airport, manage their luggage, navigate and help them through the airport, sit next to them on the flight, help them to their hotel and much more.
Some escort services even offer personal care such as medication management, dressing, bathing and feeding. And traveling nurses are also available for those with special medical needs.
However, keep in mind that these services do not come cheap. You pay for the tickets, the hotel room, the meals and incidental expenses of the tour guide as well as the fees for the service. The price for escorting a customer on a flight within the United States – including escort fees and travel expenses for all parties – can range from $2,500 to $5,000 or more, depending on the flight transfer and length of trip.
To find a travel companion service near you, search online for “travel companion for seniors” or “travel companion for seniors,” followed by your parent’s city or state. Or, use an experienced national service like Flying Companions (Flying Companions.com), Travel Helpers (GoTravelHelpers.com), or FirstLight Home Care (FirstLightHomeCare.com), which has a national network of franchises that provide home care for seniors and seniors offers tour guide programs in approximately 80% of its 190 operating areas.
Or for Medical Travel Companions, search “Traveling Nurse Escort” or “Medical Travel Companion” or check out Travel Care and Logistics (Your FlightNurse.com) which offers registered nurses as companions.
However, if your parents don’t need much help or you can’t afford a travel companion, consider asking a trusted family member or friend who has flying experience.
Check the service
If you are interested in hiring a travel companion, there are a number of things to consider to ensure you get the right companion.
If your parents need personal or medical care while traveling, first find out if the companion is trained to meet their health care needs. What medical certificates do you have? (Nursing certificates, CPR training, etc.)
Also find out how many trips the companion has made with clients. Have you taken trips with travelers like your parents? How long has the travel service company been in business? What is the company’s safety record? What type of insurance does it carry and what exactly is covered?
Also, request a quote that breaks down exactly what you need to pay in addition to the companion fees. And get a list of two or three customers who have used their service and give them a call.
Jim Miller is a contributor to NBC-TV’s Today and the author of The Savvy Senior. Send your questions to Savvy Senior, PO Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070; or visit savvysenior.org.