Monday, August 3, 2015

Traveling with your Sitter

Whether you call the person who helps you watch your kids a nanny, a babysitter, or an au pair, the same basic questions run through everyone's head when it comes to traveling with them. This post is written with the hopes to clear up how you may want to address travel with your nanny.

For the purpose of this post, a sitter is defined here as a person caring for our children. This person does not live with us full time, nor is caring for our children her full-time job; additionally, she does not care for them on a daily basis. On the flip side, she is one of the only people, outside of family, who cares for our children when we are not available.

When our children were younger, we almost always traveled with our sitter. Now that our kids are older, we often find a resort with a kid-zone or child care. Having our sitter with us was piece of mind. And let's all be honest, traveling with our sitter made the trips more enjoyable.

Here are some tips:
  1. Your sitter may not be familiar with travel When you begin discussing traveling with her, don't assuming she knows the area you are going, that she has a passport, or that she'll know your expectations. Therefore, it's important that you...
  2. ...Set the ground rules – It is important that everyone has the same expectations of the trip. You don't want anyone to come home disappointed. What will you be paying for on the trip? What will the sitter be responsible for? Will there be compensation in addition to the trip? How will meals be handled? What will the sleeping arrangements be? When will the sitter be expected to watch the kids?
  3. Make sure your sitter has a passport – Our sitter didn't have a passport, so we covered the expense for her to get one. Passports can't be gotten at the last minute, so there needs to be some planning.
  4. Work out a schedule for your sitter to have downtime – Your sitter may not have the opportunity to visit your destination outside of the trip. She will want to have time to explore the area. Plan to allow her to do this during your family time, so it doesn't take away from your vacation. Plus, you'll want to include your sitter in some of your fun as well.
  5. Remember your sitter is sacrificing something – While your sitter loves being with your kids, she is sacrificing something of her own personal life to travel with you. Make sure she knows she is appreciated and that she is comfortable with the terms you have agreed on from the points mentioned above.

Another thing we always did that you may want to consider is we allowed our sitter to bring a friend. The friend had to pay her own way, but she was welcome to share the room we got for our sitter. This always ended up being a positive for our family. We had another set of eyes watching our children. Plus, when our sitter had her downtime, she had a friend with her. In our experience, this worked out to be a win-win for everyone.

While I have listed the five tips above, you may still want to have a suggestion specifically on how to pay your sitter. Certainly, what we did may not be right for you and your sitter. This is something you need to establish while working through #2 above. I can only share what worked for our family and our sitter with compensation.

The sitters we took happened to always be college girls. They never had to take time off from a full-time job or miss a class to travel with us. We would arrange our travel time to coordinate with one of their semester or summer breaks. We did not pay them hourly. They were invited to go on a trip with us as well as bring a friend along. We always covered all of our sitter's travel expenses such as getting a passport, airfare, her own hotel room, and food. Additionally, we would give our sitter a pre-agreed amount of money for each day. The amount of money was based on where we were going. Whether she spent the money while traveling with us or saved it, that was up to her. All of the terms were given to the sitter ahead of time, so she could be in agreement prior to committing to the job. (Believe me when I tell you we had a number of sitters hoping they would be invited on one of our trips. Therefore, if the first one asked didn't like the terms offered, we had other sitters who would have jumped on it. However, we compensated fairly, and the first sitter we asked always was thrilled to accept the job.) It has always worked out beautifully for us and our sitters. They got to go to the Bahamas, Hawaii, Las Vegas, and various beaches in Florida with us.

Taking your sitter on vacation with you may seem like a huge luxury. However, if the terms are worked out ahead of time and you've budgeted appropriately, you may find that it isn't as big of a financial burden as you may have assumed it was going to be.

If you want to follow our blog on social media, go and LIKE our Facebook page by clicking {HERE}.