Local Women Inspire Travelers 5

You may think you’re a savvy traveler. Lots of us have put a toe in all 50 states, toured abroad, logged lots of business miles and enjoyed exotic beach vacations. But three local women make most of us look like it’s our first time on an airplane. They’re innovators and all of them are inspired by helping people. These three intrepid women share a love for globe trotting, but their motivations fuel uniquely notable roles in the local travel scene.

A Commitment to Safe Travel

Sheryl Hill is turning tragedy into power. Her teenaged son died while he was exploring the world on a study abroad trip. Ten years later, she’s still devastated, but instead of telling kids to stay home, works to keep other moms’ children safe.  After her son died, she didn’t miss a beat in providing a host home to kids from other countries. She also worked as an advocate for students enrolled in study abroad programs. She’s now the founder and Executive Director of a non-profit organization called Depart Smart.

Depart Smart’s mission is to inform and prepare people to see the world safely. Sheryl knows the statistics and wants people to know that the $7 trillion travel industry sometimes sweeps touring pitfalls under the rug and offers limited consumer protection. Sheryl’s inspiration is rooted in motherhood and she’s determined to keep kids safe, but everything she and Depart Smart teach young travelers applies to all travelers.

While some of us forget to carry Purell in our purses, Sheryl always packs a door jamb (your Airbnb host has a key) and a smoke detector (other countries lack OSHA standards) in her suitcase. It’s important to understand, though, that she isn’t afraid to travel. She’s adventurous and wants other people to explore the world. She empowers travelers with the information they need to identify and mitigate risk, and return home safely. Sheryl wants to, “wrap the ones we love in safety arms so they can have adventures and come home to us.” Depart Smart is hosting its sixth annual Around the World Safely event on May 18. More information about its advocacy and on-line travel safety course is available at departsmart.org.

Making Adventure Travel Possible for Seniors

Carol Giuliani loves old people. She’s enthralled with how all the decades they’ve lived affect their view of the world. Carol is also a travel expert. She’s been everywhere from Leech Lake to Dubai and she adroitly taps into local resources for both fun and health care. Carol – through her business, Senior Travel Companion Services – plans itineraries and accompanies seniors on travel adventures.

Carol says that most elderly people feel like the world is too fast-paced. When seniors travel with her, she focuses on making the experience about them. She says the elderly just want to be treated like everyone else in spite of any physical handicaps they might face. “It’s an honor to be in any moment with them. I like moving at their pace.” Flexibility is key, because “anything can happen,” with seniors’ health or the unknowns that come with any vacation.

Carol creates happy memories for seniors with her unique business. She possesses a knack for finding fun, a wealth of travel knowledge, a nose for finding a good deal, an ability to manage head-spinning logistics, an unrivaled sense of humor and resourcefulness to spare. She’s unfazed by being responsible for an elderly person’s welfare on a vacation. Most of all, though, Carol loves old people. And that’s what makes these trips magical for her clients.

Carol also specializes in helping elderly clients relocate to live closer to their families and accompanies seniors to events like graduations and weddings. Visit her website at SeniorTravelCompanionServices.com to learn more.

Medical Travel with 5-star Concierge Service

Maria Moldanado is literally a woman of the world. She was born in Spain and educated in both America and England. She speaks four languages fluently. She worked as a concierge in a demanding five-star hotel environment to help fund her college years and worked at both U.S. and European headquarters for Starkey Hearing along the way. She first learned about people traveling to foreign countries for medical procedures when doing research for Google Health in the U.K. Now she’s an Eden Prairie resident who has found a way to merge her affinity for health care with her travel expertise and her knack for juggling logistics through her medical travel company. As the founder and CEO of Trip4Care, Maria manages all the intricacies of both the itineraries and medical plans for her clients.

The concept of medical travel is new to some of us. Lots of Minnesotans grew up knowing people who traveled from other states to visit the Mayo Clinic in Rochester (or noticed that the patient down the hall at Mayo was from a far-away country). But it’s surprising to many Americans that there are hospitals all over the world that are renowned for their quality of care and “best practice” areas of expertise.

Co-pays can be extremely high for routine procedures like knee replacement on some plans and other procedures may not be covered at all. Some people travel for a second opinion when there’s only one local doctor with the expertise required for their situation. According to Maria, Trip4Care matches patients with the right doctor in the right location so they get the best treatment, often at a lower cost.

Certified by the Medical Tourism Association, Maria has developed relationships with doctors and hospitals specializing in a myriad of procedures across the globe. She’s well-versed in both medical systems and international travel. Her criteria for choosing hospitals is rigorous. She tracks infection rates, complication rates and outcomes. She only chooses facilities with international certifications and has visited all the hospitals she recommends. Unlike medical care in the United States, doctors’ and hospital fees can often be negotiated.

Maria negotiates every facet of medical travel for her clients. Her quotes are all-inclusive for procedures, medicines, follow-up doctor visits, hotels and airlines. Many of her clients want to bring a spouse or friend with them. One double-knee replacement client who would have had a $40,000 co-pay at home, flew first class with his wife, saw Columbia for the first time, recuperated in a resort and still saved $14,000. Maria also provides help with obtaining medical files from patients’ local healthcare providers and communicating between foreign doctors and rehab teams back at home.

Maria exudes confidence and competence. She also glows when she talks about how she helped a young couple conceive a child through IVF in Europe. She is motivated by the thrill of helping people find the ideal plan for the best medical care in the world, visiting a new place and learning about its people. She helps clients find health and happiness through medical travel. Learn more about medical travel and Maria at trip4care.com.