Tallahassee’s newest travel service, TripTrustees, offers a unique and one-of-a-kind platform for one type of Capital City resident in particular: senior citizens. The Tally Wire had the opportunity to speak with the new travel service about their company, which functions via connecting local civic leaders with senior citizens who wish to take trips, but need some assistance. Read about them below.
TripTrustees was founded in 2017 by Gino Fina. Originally from Columbus, OH, he joined the US Navy in 1990 at age 22 after graduating from Ohio State University to pursue his dream of becoming a Navy pilot. After serving in the USN for 11 years, he used his GI Bill to become a registered nurse. In 2009, he attended nursing school at Keiser University in Tallahassee. He now works at Tallahassee Memorial specializing in psychiatric nursing while also still pursuing his dream as a pilot working for American Airlines. Working in healthcare and as a pilot, Gino recognized the need for senior assisted travel, which is when he created TripTrustees.
Back in 2012, one of Gino’s private plane partners was too busy to take time off work, so he asked Gino to fly his father and his son to visit the US Naval Academy. That round-trip grandfather and grandson journey is what inspired the idea for TripTrustees. Once news got out after the first trip, Gino was asked to facilitate several more trips with other seniors who were friends of friends. As their driver or flying companion, he assisted seniors for the entirety of their trip, doorstep to doorstep. He was driving seniors to all sorts of different occasions in all sorts of cities—from weddings, to family reunions, to cruise ships—and that is the part he enjoyed, that each trip was personalized and different, yet made a difference in someone’s life.
Gino’s favorite part of running TripTrustees is getting to see seniors make an otherwise impossible trip to see their families or take that special trip they always dreamed of. The motivation has always been and remains to help even more seniors and their families connect and help create travel dreams become realities.
Another amazing part of running TripTrustees is seeing how many nurse colleagues and other local Tallahassee civic-duty leaders including firemen, policemen, paramedics, and more also want to help the senior community and become involved in TripTrustees. The feeling of a diverse community coming together to support one another is one of the greatest rewards Gino gets to witness by running TripTrustees.
Our vision at TripTrustees is to take travel hopes & dreams of seniors that have been dashed by an inability to drive or fear of traveling alone and make them a reality. We hope seniors take the trip and make life-long memories for them and their families to enjoy.
Our goals are to bring independence to older Americans, we want to do this by giving them a variety of travel options and providing them with a travel companion they can trust. We also want to recognize the hard-working civic duty personnel and provide them with something they can take part in while off-duty. We also aim to recognize and donate to Honor Flight for each trip that is taken. Honor Flight is a non-profit organization dedicated to transporting veterans, at no cost to the veteran, to Washington DC to visit the memorials of the respective war they fought in.
There are no limitations for client travel at this time. It is likely that the majority of our travel assistants will only be assisting on shorter, 3-10 day trips in their off-duty time. However, we will also have retired personnel who can take much longer trips. Therefore, the world is truly the limit.
We’d all like something to look forward to after COVID-19. Maybe take a trip? Now there’s another tool that could help seniors do just that, TripTrustees. TripTrustees is a new travel assistant company serving Wakulla, Crawfordville, Tallahassee and the surrounding area, aiming to help and accompany seniors on trips- whether it be vacation, to see family, or a personal trip.
So, what sets TripTrustees apart from other travel assistant options you ask? The answer is that they truly believe the travel assistant should be someone the senior feels they can trust, and they do this by hiring people who have careers in civic duty- including law enforcement officers, nurses, firefighters, paramedics, retired military, and local area flight attendants.
In recent years, with the growing senior population in the United States, the travel hopes & dreams of many have been dashed by an inability to drive or fear of traveling alone. Understanding that their families are also living busy lives, working, and taking care of children, seniors tend not to ask for help from their families to go places outside the city limits. “One of our goals is to bring independence to older Americans. We want to do this by giving them a variety of travel options and providing them with a travel companion they can find locally and that they can trust,” said spokeswoman Taylor Leksander.
For example, if a grandparent lives out of state and their grandchild is getting married, their immediate families may not always have members who are available to get them to the wedding. A wedding is a special occasion that shouldn't be missed. So, the family can hire a travel assistant through TripTrustees to take the necessary steps in accompanying them in their travel- by car, plane, etc. for however long they need. This is just one example of how TripTrustees aims to improve the quality of life for seniors in our community.
“Another goal is to recognize and appreciate our hard-working law enforcement officers, firefighters, paramedics, registered nurses and retired military. Give them our respect, show our continued trust in them and provide them with something they can take part in while off-duty that is mutually beneficial to them, our community and to our fine troops,” Leksander added.
For every trip that is completed, TripTrustees makes a donation to Honor Flight of Tallahassee. If you're unfamiliar with this organization, it is a non-profit dedicated to transporting veterans, at no cost to the veteran, to Washington DC to see the memorials of the respective war they fought in.
TripTrustees founder, Gino Fina, was a navy pilot and therefore has great passion for Honor Flight. He currently serves as a registered nurse at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital and is an airline pilot for American Airlines.
“During this pandemic, it’s bad timing. Obviously, we are discouraging any non-emergency travel for seniors until a vaccine has become available. We are currently focused on keeping our seniors safe & looking ahead at the post COVID-19 period, aligning for future needs. Right now, we want to give people something to look forward to, something positive, something uplifting,” said Fina.
You can subscribe at www.TripTrustees.com and receive free monthly updates and travel information about issues important to senior travel.
By Katie Reeves | So THAT happened!
In February of this year, Tallahassee resident Gino Fina, launched a brand-new travel-oriented start-up business called “TripTrustees” and, well…you know what happened next.
The idea is to connect seniors in our community with travel assistants comprised of off-duty & retired civic duty personnel, registered nurses & retired military. A donation to Honor Flight of Tallahassee would be made for each trip completed. “We’ve since transitioned our company-wide focus from encouraging travel 180 degrees to discouraging travel until a vaccine for COVID-19 is available. We do this with the best interest of the seniors in our community in mind. Travel is a natural human yearning. When it opens up again it will open up with a vengeance. So, we are planning for that, but safety & education for our valued supporters and clients is now paramount,” Fina states.
The psychological impact of COVID-19 can accumulate insidiously over time;
“Human beings are not made for social isolation. We are made to get close to others during stressful, fearful times. This is how we are hard-wired. We exchange information, share our concerns and strategies. This sends the signal that “we can do it, we can and will get through this together.” We do NOT tend to socially isolate ourselves. This is why suicide rates will likely drop during the current pandemic. This is a typical occurrence during natural disasters, because it is a matter of surviving. But later, when we realize what has been destroyed by an event and that life must go on, then things can become dicey.” (Dr. Ed Miles APA Pilot Assistance Manager, APA Digest, April 10, 2020)
The message here is to start keeping an eye on each other now. As we begin to compare our post-COVID-19 lives with our pre-COVID-19 lives, many of us will be overwhelmed with feelings of shame, anger, fear, and depression. The smaller our support system, the more destitute we may feel.
We can help others who are struggling to cope mentally in several ways; Encourage them to devise new routines that maintain their sense of control. Help them create new habits that make them happy. Remain accessible and do what it takes to inspire them to stay feeling connected to others. Help them self-evaluate and label their emotions (once identified, those feelings become manageable). Point out the silver linings so they appreciate what they have. Most importantly, validate their feelings.
TripTrustees continues to be motivated and inspired by all the local companies that are making an impact every day in Tallahassee, adjusting new service to fit new needs.
“As an airline pilot, I know this turbulence is temporary. As a registered nurse, I’m proud of Tallahassee for our compliance to public policy and CDC guidelines. I’m grateful to live in such a terrific town,” Fina stated.
Gino Fina is a RN at TMH, an airline pilot and founder of Trip Trustees, helping older Americans travel by hiring off-duty & retired civic duty personnel as Travel Assistants.
I’m still 20 years away from retirement, but I’ve already had to reinvent myself twice. Sounding familiar? Career change is easier when we’re young, but as we mature the need for stability takes root.
Something that’s relatable right now to a lot of people is the topic of sudden unemployment. I’m reminded of the maddening injustices that I felt in 2001 when I had to reinvent myself. Almost overnight, I became a furloughed pilot due to the 9/11 terrorist attack. Many of us know someone who’s experiencing unemployment caused by circumstances completely out of their control. They did everything right, they worked hard to achieve their value in society, they moved up the ladder in a respectful, orderly fashion, so right now they may be asking themselves, “Why is this happening to me, and why do I feel worthless?”
Part of the answer could be what’s called “forfeiture of identity”- (for me personally, being a pilot was my identity, literally “who” I thought I was). I struggled with the questions: Who am I now and where do I fit in? “Forfeiture of identity” is very common for people when they retire, get divorced, lose their job or lose a spouse. It can come at a very unexpected time and cause some massively confusing emotions.
So, how do we “get our groove” back?
As realization sets in, our worldviews encompass the fact that the world is always changing, and it will change whether we participate or not. There will be an outcome either way. If we take no action the world will choose our life course for us. So, after standing back to take a big-picture view of the battlefield, consider being determined not to let that happen.
With encouragement from others, we may consider resolving to change our lives in a direction that would be more of our choice, than slave to circumstance. For the first time in a long while, we can choose a new interest (everyone has something they do well, enjoy, and may even do for less money).
That’s how I decided to become a registered nurse; the medical field offered a topic that I truly enjoyed and it matched my personality- it turns out that the same OCD that makes for conscientious pilots, also makes for conscientious medical professionals. I became a RN at the ripe old age of 42.
Why am I sharing this? Because I hope that many people are starting to “thaw out” now from that frozen state of unemployment shock, and I want to encourage everyone to set their new sites, to be laser-focused on their next endeavor and to remember that everyone has self-doubt- everyone! Self-discipline is the key. Self-discipline lets us use our intellect instead of our emotions to see the world as it is. It can be used to make hard choices now that will create positive long-term outcomes in our lives. As you work your plan, remember a successful life is just a series of successful individual days.
Stay Safe, Stay Well & Best Wishes