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Published in the late 1930s, the novel Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier describes the exciting story of a socialite’s paid travel companion who meets and marries a rich man in Monaco and then must unravel the secrets hidden at his estate.
When it wasn’t considered proper for women to travel alone, paid traveling companions were common. Although times have changed, some people still work as travel companions, either through an agency or as a freelancer. Here’s everything you need to know about becoming a paid travel companion.
Types of Travel Companions
The largest market for travel companions today comes from individuals who physically can’t travel on their own. This includes elderly seniors, disabled individuals, and people who require medical assistance during travel. Hired companions are different from medical caregivers, who usually have higher training.
Many people hire travel companions because they have extreme anxiety while flying. A travel companion can take care of any potential stressors during transit through the airport. They can also help individuals stay calm and distracted from their anxiety while on the plane. They also often help their employers get to and from the airport.
Some families hire travel companions as nannies or tutors for their children. However, it’s more usual for this kind of travel companion to be hired for a specific childcare role and then travel with the family only if necessary.
Makeup artists, translators, and personal assistants are also hired to travel with their employers and assist them over the duration of their trip. Depending on your role as a travel companion, you may or may not have free time to explore.
Qualifications and Placement
Travel companions need different qualifications depending on the type of companion they wish to become. For example, medical travel companions usually require at least two years of medical education. Some agencies may prefer a bachelor’s degree with experience.
You are an asset as a travel companion because of your primary skillset. Medical experience, a teaching degree, or strong bilingual skills set you apart as someone who can support your employer during their travels. To become a travel companion, your first step is to develop these skills.
Although many travel companions work as freelancers, there are some risks to this approach. If you freelance, you’ll have to take care of the business side of work – finding and booking engagements, running background checks, and reporting back to yourself as both boss and the employee.
If you join an agency, you can avoid the possibility of being hired under false pretenses – for instance, as an escort service. However, agencies are extremely competitive and require you to have an impressive array of education, skills, and experience to beat other applicants. If you can get through the hiring process, however, working as a travel companion is much easier through an agency.
Compensation for Travel Companions
According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary for travel companions in the U.S. is $50,891 a year. However, this number is entirely dependent on how much you or your agency charges per booking and how many bookings you get in a year. A more accurate annual income is probably closer to $20,000–$30,000.
For example, some travel companion companies charge $3000 to $5000 a booking in addition to ticket costs and other travel expenses. If you work 15 trips at $3,000 each, you could earn $45,000 a year before taxes and agency fees. However, you may not have demand for 15 trips, depending on the year.
If you work with an agency, they’ll take some of your pay for running the business side of your role. However, you’ll have more consistent work, and you won’t always have to worry about finding your next engagement. You’re effectively paying them to help you out.
Travel companions who work as freelancers can often get work through word of mouth. However, some employers will want to pay your travel expenses and nothing else, especially if they know you personally. Because there could be some drama, working for family and friends isn’t a wise way to build your income.
Love to Travel?
If you enjoy traveling and have experience in a valued field, becoming a paid travel companion may be a good career for you. While there are many challenges to this career, good planning and the right set of circumstances can make work as a travel companion very rewarding.
Traveling jobs have changed a lot from the early 1900s, and you probably aren’t going to meet a mysterious estate owner with a dark secret during your travels. However, working as a travel companion will enable you to use your skills to care for others while being paid to travel the world.
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