8 Things a Traveling Nanny Needs to Know

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One of the great things about being a nanny (and we think there are lots of perks!) is having a good relationship with your nanny family. And if you’ve been working with a family long enough, they probably consider you an extended member of the family, too. So it’s no surprise that when families plan their vacations, they often invite their nanny along. Parents like having an extra set of hands around to watch the kids so they can kick back and relax, as well as participate in grownup-only activities such as scuba diving or an elegant dinner. And what nanny wouldn’t want an all-expenses-paid trip to a sunny locale?

So what should you know before agreeing to travel with your nanny family? Here are a few things to keep in mind and some questions to get answered before you pack your bags:

Who’s in charge when everyone’s together? Unlike your daily nanny routine, where parents leave for work and you’re alone with the kids, there will be stretches of time when both you and the parents are all around (such as on the plane). Talk to the parents about how they’d like to handle those scenarios: They may prefer to be the authority figure when they’re around the kids, they may want to work in tandem with you, or they may want you to be in charge. They may also just want to play it by ear, but you need to be aware of that, too.

What about money? At home you’re most likely on an hourly pay schedule, but what happens when you’re around your nanny family 24/7? Ask your family if there will be on-the-clock time vs. off-the-clock time, or if it’s easier for them to pay you a lump sum so you’re not tallying hours on the trip. And if they suggest a lump sum that’s too low, don’t be afraid to say something! Another thing to discuss is your per diem (or daily dollar amount for necessities). For example: You may be in situations where you have to pay for the childrens’ food (or your own), and that shouldn’t come out of your pocketbook. Of course, if you’re buying souvenirs or other non-essentials, those would be things you pay for yourself.

What about schedules? This relates to payment. Even if you’re being paid in a lump sum, it’s good to know when parents will consider you on the clock. Do they want to sleep in every morning while you wake up with the kids? Who handles bedtime? And what about everything in between? Managing expectations up front will make everything run more smoothly.

Where will you be rooming? Hopefully your family will set you up with your own hotel room or private space. If for some reason that isn’t the case, discuss if there are other ways that you can get a little bit of privacy when you need it. Some parents may expect their nannies to sleep in the same room as the children, but they should consider your needs, too.

Will there be extra responsibilities? Most likely, yes. When you’re caring for children in an unfamiliar environment all sorts of things can come up. Keep this in mind and ask your family if there are any duties they’ll want you to do so you aren’t surprised at the last minute.

How about free time? When you’re in a tropical paradise or some other fun locale, it’s natural to want to enjoy a little bit of vacation time for yourself. Ask your family if there might be some family-only time scheduled where you can get away for a little while, whether it’s to do a little sightseeing or just take a break and relax on the beach. Even though this is a working trip, your nanny family will probably be happy to accommodate you.

What about my vacation time? Like most nannies, you probably receive at least a couple of paid weeks off a year. Make sure your family is clear about this being a working trip for you and doesn’t count as one of your paid weeks off.

Do I have to go? Of course not. Maybe you have obligations outside of work and you can’t get away, or traveling with your nanny family just isn’t something you want to do. That’s entirely OK, and you shouldn’t feel like you can’t say no. In that case, something to consider is possibly planning some of your own vacation time during their vacation time — working parents have a limited amount of vacation days, and that way they don’t have to plan for alternate care on the days they’re working and you’re not. Another resource for them to consider is Sittercity’s travel sitter page, where parents can register and find babysitters in their destination city.