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Should You Hire a Travel Nanny?

Alexandra Kadlec
Feb. 26, 2018

7 things you need to do when bringing a nanny or babysitter on your family vacation.

Let’s face it: family vacations can sometimes feel like more work than play. With young ones in tow, a significant portion of your time away can easily be consumed by finding ways to entertain kids. No lazy morning sleeping in when the little ones get up at 6 a.m.

Want to make your next vacation one you'll never forget? Hire a travel nanny.

You can ask your regular nanny or babysitter to accompany your family on the trip, or find a caregiver who specializes in going on trips with families.

You’ll benefit from knowing that your kids are in good hands when you want to sleep late or spend time alone with your spouse.

Here are seven things to consider when you bring a nanny on vacation with you.

  1. Determine Pay
    Just like with an everyday nanny, rates will vary depending on the experience of the nanny, where you're going, what you're doing, how many kids you have, etc. Most families offer an hourly rate to cover the hours a nanny is on duty during the trip.

    Some families decide to pay their travel nanny a lump sum for the event. If you go this route, just be sure to also convert it into an hourly rate, based on the number of hours you expect the nanny to work each day. If there are any changes along the way, you can easily adjust your nanny’s pay as necessary.  

    Katie Vaughan, founder and CEO of Westside Nannies, says a highly experienced travel nanny costs about $400 a day.

  2. Negotiate Hours
    When will your nanny be on-call during the trip? Meaning, she's responsible for your kids and can't go do something by herself. If she's on call the entire time, she'll likely be entitled to overtime because she’ll work more than 40 hours for you. This can greatly increase the amount you need to pay her.

    Set a certain number of hours that the nanny will be expected to work and keep track of them during the trip.

    Check out these sample vacation schedules and figure out the best option for your family.

  3. Budget for Expenses
    And don’t forget: you should also pay for the nanny’s travel, meals, accommodations and activities (when she's doing them with you and/or your children). Discuss how you want to determine and handle expenses that are deemed extra (alcoholic drinks, activities she chooses to do during her free time).

    Figure out if you want to set a daily stipend for the nanny, and whether you’ll be giving her a credit card or cash to pay for expenses when she's alone with the children, or for errands like food shopping. Can she charge things to a room?

  4. Discuss Expectations
    Emily Larkin, a mother of two, has learned that “the success of a vacation with a travel nanny has a lot to do with expectations.” She once hired a travel nanny for a trip without discussing free time beforehand. The nanny was soon experiencing burnout, but still felt that she had to be on call all of the time to help out as much as possible.

    Avoid this scenario by being open about sleeping habits, accommodations (will she get her own room or share with the kids?), eating times, daily routines and planned activities -- as well as the level of involvement you anticipate the nanny to provide. Every family is different. You may be looking forward to some late nights with your spouse, which means your nanny should expect to be in charge during nighttime hours while the children are sleeping. Whatever your needs and situation, make sure you learn how to be a Fair Care Employer.

    Take the Fair Care Pledge.

  5. Write Down Details
    Before you head for a plane, train or automobile, make sure you have everything written down. Write up a contract that spells out any details you agree on, with schedules of when your caregiver is in charge and when she has free time. Use this sample nanny contract as a starting point.

  6. Adopt the Right Mindset
    Think of a travel nanny as your insurance policy, says Donna Robinson, the Texas-based Traveling Nanny. If your child gets sick, you have someone to watch him or her without canceling plans. If you’d like to spend time with an older child, the nanny can look after the baby.

    Because you’ll want to spend some quality time with your children, think of a nanny as someone who can also take care of other details -- researching activities, making reservations, etc. A travel nanny can also ensure that plans don’t get skipped.

    Larkin shares that during a family trip to Italy, it was inevitable that she and her spouse would want to do events and activities that her two young boys might not be interested in. Having a nanny was essential for keeping options open and not being forced to cancel plans.

  7. Ask the Right Questions
    During the interview, ask questions that will reveal the type of traveler she is:

    • What is her experience working for families during trips?
    • What places has she visited before (either while working or on personal travel)?
    • What does she like to do on a vacation?
    • What are some of her favorite vacation memories?
    • How does she find activities to do during a trip?
    • What does she pack in her suitcase?  
    • Is she certified in CPR and first aid?
    • Does she have lifeguarding experience (particularly important if you'll be vacationing near water)?
    • How does she keep kids occupied during a plane ride or when they're in a restaurant?
    • What would she do if she missed a flight?
    • How would she entertain kids if it starts to rain and plans had to be cancelled?

And take your time to find the right person. Your nanny will likely be spending a week or more with you and your family in close quarters -- you want to ensure you’ve made the right hiring decision!

Alexandra Kadlec is a freelance writer. When not writing, doing crossword puzzles or playing competitive games of Scrabble, she is known to get effusive about modern art, Jane Austen and karaoke.

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