Finding a Great Vacation Babysitter

Shellie Braeuner
May 9, 2017

Understanding the magic that goes into finding a vacation babysitter -- at Disney or anywhere.



With juggling suitcases, diaper bags, strollers, tickets and more, vacations are anything but relaxing for Mom. Is that fair? No, but it's reality. Luckily, hiring a vacation babysitter for any amount of time can help. "Family vacations are all about finding the right balance," notes Sally Black, the author of "Fearless Family Vacations."

"It can't be all about the kids, otherwise parents will end up needing a vacation from their vacation." Still, there's a fine line parents must balance. "Couple time can't come at the expense of the safety of your children," adds Corinne McDermott of the site Have Baby Will Travel.

So how do parents find the best possible child care on vacation? Here are five tips for finding a vacation babysitter.

  1. Choose a Family Style Resort
    "If you know you'll want to use the services of a vacation babysitter, choose resorts that market the service," advises McDermott. Many resorts in the Caribbean, Mexico and the U.S. offer a wide range of child care options. Even Disney offers a wide variety of child care options. These range from "kids night out" programs that supply dinner, crafts and movies while mom and dad have a date night, to all-day clubs that give parents a chance to explore unencumbered. Check the resort carefully before making reservations, however. Ages of inclusion vary, but generally run from 4 to 12 years. Some resorts offer these services at an additional charge, while others bundle the cost into the price of the stay.
  2. Shop Locally
    Finding a local sitter on your own is a little trickier. Look for a local sitter with a company you can trust. "I often refer families to," Black says. "This company helps to find caregivers in resort locations." If you are staying near family or friends, try discussing the situation with them first. This gives you the chance to generate a list of referrals and trusted sitters before you travel.
  3. Interview Candidates
    It is vital that you check out the prospective caregiver before you turn over your children. Do an online search and look for any mention of trouble with the law. Explore their social media profiles as well. While it may not matter to you what your caregiver does in her spare time, it is important to see how she handles her job with children. Does she trash her families on Twitter or post pictures of other people's children? These are points to discuss when you speak. Telephone interviews are acceptable, but you can get a better feel speaking face to face. Try using video conferencing tools such as Skype or Google Hangout to have a more personal interview.
  4. Agree on Payment
    How you handle pay depends on how you choose your sitter. If you rely on the resort to pay your caregiver, consider slipping the babysitter a gratuity in much the same way as you would tip the valet or concierge. If you have hired a sitter through a service, the fees should have been stated upfront, but tips are usually appreciated since the sitter will get only part of the night's total. If you are hiring a sitter on your own, look for the local rate through services or talk to your friends on social media to determine a fair hourly wage. Remember that rates may be higher in resort areas with lots of kids and a high demand for quality caregivers. Discuss this with the sitter before the job so that everyone has the same expectations. Also, if you're paying the sitter directly, be prepared to pay cash instead of writing the sitter a check.

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  5. Go With Your Gut
    It doesn't matter how highly recommended your sitter is or what assurances you are given -- if you feel something is amiss, don't agree to let her take care of your child. You can always find someone else you feel more comfortable with. In addition, it is important to watch and listen to your children. If they don't seem to enjoy the caregiver, or appear afraid or worried, then this person simply isn't right for your family. After all, it is a vacation for everyone. Your children should enjoy the time they spend away from you.

Feel like you need some more advice? Check out 8 Ways to Find Child Care on Vacation for extra tips.

Shellie Braeuner is an award-winning children's author. She earned an M.Ed from Vanderbilt University in human developmental counseling and has worked as a nanny for more than 25 years.

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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