Sisters Fran Creamer and Celia Orr were faced with a dilemma in early 2020 – how to safely and comfortably relocate their 73-year-old sister, a dementia sufferer, from an assisted living, memory care facility in Hawaii to one near where they reside in Ponte Vedra, in the St. Augustine area.
Fortunately, their contact at Ponte Vedra Gardens assisted living home was able to recommend just the right person - Kerri Johnson, founder and CEO of GOMO Travel. Cape Coral-based, but with a nationwide reach, GOMO provides travel companions to assist with all facets of long-distance travel for people for who, otherwise, might find such journeys to be a major, if not insurmountable, challenge.
The company’s concierge-style services for all ages cover everything from making travel arrangements to assisting the traveler with their trip, whether it’s domestic or international. A client could be someone who simply needs the assurance of having a companion by their side, people who are medically or mobility challenged, or a child who needs to be accompanied between Points A and B.
“We’re on the airplane with them. We’re not just taking them to the airport, dropping them off, putting them in a wheelchair, and hoping they get to their destination OK,” explained Johnson. “We’re with them through the ticketing process and seat selection. We’re with them through the security process, restroom stops, whatever they need in the airport. We can also get them to their final destination, so we can do door-to-door service. We can do airport-to-airport service, as long as their family or friends are able to pick them up.”
In operation since early 2019, GOMO, short for ‘Go More,’ got its start in Jacksonville. The home-base shifted to Southwest Florida in January when Johnson and her life-and-business-partner, Eduardo Waite, moved to the area to advance the business. Since then, she’s joined the Marco Island Area Chamber Of Commerce to raise local awareness about the business.
Before starting GOMO, Johnson spent 31 years as an RN and in medical sales. Aside from possessing an EMBA (Executive Master of Business Administration), she’s also a Certified Dementia Practitioner, someone with specialized training in Alzheimer's and dementia care.
Johnson is joined by 15 other travel companions, some of them fellow nurses and all of them veteran travelers, like herself. It was she who accompanied Creamer, Orr and their sister, Gail Rauls, on the cross-country journey to Florida’s east coast.
“I guess the thing that shines through is Kerri’s caring for the elderly and their challenges,” said Creamer. “She was such a comfort to us. She provided thoughts and planning on what was the best way to get her through multiple airports overnight and the challenges that dementia patients have. I can’t speak highly enough of her. She really is an angel.”
About half of GOMO’s business is dementia-related, oftentimes people who are relocating or from Florida, said Johnson.
Her motivation for starting the company is rooted in meeting her biological father in 2017. That first meeting was bittersweet because he had dementia.
“He had the means to travel, but he was not able to travel on his own,” she said. “He wasn’t able to safely make it to the airport or make connecting flights. This was a lightbulb moment for me when I realized I could so easily help him to travel and I knew he wasn’t the only one in that situation. It was at that moment that I decided I was going to dedicate my life to helping people to travel who otherwise would be too afraid to do so.”
The move to Southwest Florida came about because the elderly demographic and the volume of snowbirds here are superior to the Jacksonville area.
“It’s been a good move,” said Johnson. “The need here is so great. We’ve already experienced that and been able to help in ways that are so rewarding to help people to relocate or just to travel here. Southwest Florida is certainly a destination and we want to help people get here who otherwise would be too afraid to do so.”
For more information about GOMO Travel, visit gomotravel.com or call 904-395-7500.