Everything you need to know about hiring a travel nanny for your next family vacation

Everything you need to know about hiring a travel nanny for your next family vacation

How and why we hired a travel nanny

I just got back from a multi-city, 16 day Europe trip with my husband Jim, our 7 month old, Lucas, our 3 year old, Owen, and our first travel nanny, Rose. It was such an amazing experience bringing her along that I wanted to share my research and experience with you all.

Traveling with kids has always been a dream of mine, so to cap my maternity leave, we planned our first big family vacation. We’ve all heard the memes - like traveling with kids is just parenting in another location. But getting to enjoy our trip as a vacation (at least some of the time) was just as important to me as seeing the world alongside our kids. So we decided to bring help!

Why not local babysitters? We’ve found success with this approach in the past and for shorter trips I highly recommend hiring reputable local help. When Owen was a baby, we hired a babysitter with great reviews on UrbanSitter to read and watch TV while he slept so we could go to dinner in Palm Springs. Once he was almost 2, we hired a daytime sitter for a couple days of our trip to Sayulita. We used a reputable agency and interviewed our sitter via video call before we left home. She and Owen hit it off and we still keep in touch with her from time to time.

But for this trip at this age, we think Owen would struggle being left with a new person in a new place. We also considered the operational overhead of managing communication, scheduling, and the kids’ routine download in 3 different cities with 3 different people.

Why not family? We decided we wanted to have bonding time with just our kids for this trip, and I really wanted to make decisions about the trip (of which there were many) without considering additional needs and desires. However, we’re planning a trip with my family this winter and can’t wait to all share the experience of traveling with our sweet kiddos together.

Enter the travel nanny. We landed on bringing a nanny for 2 main reasons: First, familiarity for Owen (and us!) and second, having an agreed-upon arrangement, allowing us to decide exactly when we needed help.

When it came to finding a nanny, we thought of Owen’s teachers, but we didn’t want anyone to spend precious PTO or risk an employment contract breach. I remembered that one of Owen’s favorite teachers, Rose, was leaving to get her doctorate, so I pitched the idea of planning our trip to land in the time between the two and she loved it.


Making a fair offer

After hearing the great news that Rose wanted to join us, I started looking into compensation norms. I learned there’s a spectrum of approaches and the best are simply beneficial to both parties; there’s no one right answer.

I learned that professional travel nannies are paid hourly (anywhere from $25-35+ per hour) as well as a nightly “away fee” ($50-250 per night) to cover expenses at home, like hiring a pet sitter. Some travel nannies are paid a higher rate when they’re managing outings (ie +$10/hr) as there’s more risk and responsibility, and some are paid more if they’re sharing a room or tending to children in the middle of the night. Professional nannies see trips strictly as work and don’t count any “perks” of travel as part of their compensation.

On the other end of the spectrum, some people said that simply covering flight, hotel, and food would be alluring enough for some nannies who are excited about the travel opportunity and have more flexibility to get up and go.

After a couple conversations with Rose, we offered her something in the middle: the same weekly rate she was making at work, a lighter 35-40hr per week schedule with plenty of time to explore on her own, no middle-of-the-night responsibilities, a private room and bathroom, flight, airport transportation, and free food and activities when with the kids or us, even if she wasn’t working. She was really excited to accept our offer and we were ready to book.

I want to add that a few people poked fun, calling us bougie for bringing a nanny on our trip. When others may choose to upgrade a car or enjoy shopping (no judgement to how people spend their extra cash!), we put that budget towards something we place high importance on, which is travel. I’m super mindful that not all families can afford this help and that we are very fortunate. No matter how you work it, a nanny for a 2 week trip will cost at least a couple thousand dollars, but I highly recommend using points and miles to cover whatever you can, like I did.


Booking, travel styles, the care schedule

Once Rose officially accepted our offer, I created a sample schedule to get her reactions and we talked about our different travel styles. I was nervous that the way we travel may feel unpredictable — I like to do a ton of research about where to eat and drink and explore, and then book absolutely nothing in advance so we can see where the trip takes us. I don’t like rigid plans and hoped our childcare schedule could be loose to match, and thankfully, Rose was totally on board.

For the 16 day trip, we estimated that Rose would spend 5 full 8hr days with the kids, 6 slightly shorter 5hr days, and 4 days without working. We asked Rose when she would most like to have her free time, and because she wasn’t as likely to go out in the evening, we planned to do more dinners out so she could explore during the day. In addition to the chunks of time we scheduled for her to be with the kids, we asked her to be available ad-hoc on travel days, like while packing and while in the airport.

When the plane layout allowed, Rose sat near but not next to us. We mostly managed the kids on our own when flying, but it was great to have an extra hand here and there.

When booking our Airbnbs, I got Rose a private room and bathroom and ensured there was enough open space for her and the kids to play comfortably if they didn’t feel like venturing out.

Once we were on the trip, I carried as much of the planning load as possible, coordinating details when she ventured out with the kids, communicating the care schedule, and in each city I pinned all our important travel details to our WhatsApp chat — addresses, flight times, door codes, wifi, food delivery apps, and research/maps of stuff to do.


Traveling with our nanny

The day finally arrived and we met at the airport. We were all buzzing with excitement and Rose jumped right into helping keep Owen entertained while we made it through airport chaos. On the plane, we mostly let Rose do her thing (as much as is possible when sitting right behind us).

Once we landed, we started out feeling bad asking Rose to stay with the kids while in such a fun, new place, but soon enough we all found our groove. We asked Rose for feedback every few days, making sure we were being fair, communicative, and giving her enough heads up. We usually only locked in the schedule a day in advance but always checked in on Rose’s ambitions for her personal time. We were all flexible and respectful and it made the trip really awesome.

When Rose was with the kids, they mostly stayed at the Airbnb. It was a good opportunity for them to have some quiet play time amidst all our go-go-go tendencies and I’m sure it was also easier for Rose to keep them in a contained environment.

By the end of the trip, we were working together really well. We got to have several meals and outings all together, we all got personal time, and we all had a variety of special 1:1 moments between the adults and kids, too. Compared to our proposed schedule, Rose watched the kids more frequently in smaller chunks, with the longest being only 6 hours. Getting a few hours to ourselves and a few hours with the kids every day was pretty perfect. All in all, there were still hard times — like one notable day of parent burnout — but taking such an ambitious trip with our young kids (AND ROSE!!) was 1000% worth it.

Rose was legendary and we’re already scheming future trips together.

Click here to read more about planning our trip

And download all of my spreadsheets to help prep for a trip with kids here

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