Family vacations set the stage for cherished childhood memories — exploring new places while spending quality time together provides a much needed break from the hustle and bustle of daily life. But the stress of managing kids in unfamiliar territory without a normal schedule or routine can leave parents needing a vacation to recover from vacation.
For some parents, especially those with two or more young children, traveling with a nanny or sitter is a no-brainer. The benefits are obvious: More time and flexibility for parents to relax and recharge as well as an additional set of adult hands to manage and entertain multiple ages and stages.
But it’s not all smooth sailing — without careful planning, this arrangement can potentially lead to misunderstandings and awkward situations. So before you book your plane tickets, use these five tips to ensure your vacation with your nanny or sitter is a breeze.
1. Consider your budget.
According to parents, the biggest downside of bringing an additional person on the family vacation is cost. When you travel with a nanny or sitter, expenses are your responsibility — that includes tickets for transportation and attractions, larger or additional accommodations to house an extra guest, meals and entertainment, as well as compensation. Sit down and crunch the numbers before making a final plan.
2. Set a schedule.
While it’s reasonable to expect some flexibility based on the unknowns of your trip, do your best to figure out how many hours a day you expect your nanny or sitter to be “on the clock” during vacation. Consider whether or not you plan to have dinners or evenings out sans little ones; if you expect the sitter to bunk with the kids; and if you’ll be giving her any full or half days off. Having a solid sense of the schedule will help you plan fair compensation for your nanny.
3. Determine compensation.
When families travel with a nanny or sitter, compensation can vary based on a number of factors. If your full-time or live-in nanny is accompanying you on vacation, normal weekly or daily compensation in addition to expenses may be appropriate. For live-out nannies, some families add a flat fee to cover the overnight.
If you’re traveling with your family’s regular sitter, consider her typical rate and how many hours a day you expect her to be watching the kids. Also take into consideration how often the nanny or sitter will be able to take time off and any spending money you plan to provide as well as the perks of free travel. But keep in mind, while your family’s trip may be a great opportunity for the sitter to travel all expenses paid, this is your vacation, not the nanny’s — she’s working.
4. Plan your accommodations carefully.
Bringing an extra person means needing more of everything, including additional space. Think about how you want to manage the nanny’s accommodations. Does it make sense to have a separate hotel room, to upgrade to a suite, or to rent a house or condo with several bedrooms? Do you want the nanny to have a space separate from the family so you create additional privacy, or do you want her to bunk with the kids so she can manage any night-time or early-morning needs?
5. Choose a sitter you’re comfortable with.
When it comes to bringing a nanny or sitter on vacation, losing privacy is one of the only other downsides parents cite, but many families feel this can be avoided simply by choosing someone who is familiar with your family. Live-in and live-out nannies are obvious choices, but long-time sitters who are loved by your kids are great choices too. But if you’re not used to having an additional adult in your space 24/7, consider your comfort level before you ask a sitter or nanny to join you on your trip.
For most families, the benefits of traveling with a nanny or sitter far outweigh the potential pitfalls. While the first priority is always about spending quality time as a family, the added flexibility and the extra set of hands goes a long way toward relieving the stress of traveling with children and allowing parents to get some much needed rest and relaxation.