To Travel or Not to Travel – Know What You Are Signing Up For
By Emily Barrett
A weekend in New York City, safaris in South Africa, a yacht voyage in Australia, a basic eco-friendly rancho in remote Nicaragua… I have shared some of the highlights of my nanny travels on social media, which have triggered excitement in many child care providers. Before I realized, I was receiving multiple messages a week from nannies who wanted to learn all about being a travel nanny, saying they would jump on any travel opportunity they would get. But just like any job search, it is important to weigh up the pros and cons of each job offer.
Families travel with their children for different occasions. Some families like to rely on help from their own nanny or they might employ a travel nanny specifically for the trip. You don’t have to agree to travel with your nanny family (unless you agreed in your contract) and certainly don’t take just any travel position. Before accepting a travel job, find out what the reason for the travel is, the expectations and the accommodation. Many times, the type of occasion will predict what the family will be expecting from their nanny.
When children tag along on a business trip, the nanny will most likely be expected to keep them safe and occupied. He/she will find engaging activities to do at the accommodation or in the area, so the parent(s) can concentrate on their own commitments.
During family holidays, there is a chance the parent(s) will be more involved and available for the fun activities, while the nanny’s duties will be more likely to team up with the parent(s) and focus on more caring responsibilities such as diaper changes while at the waterpark, nap time whilst older siblings continue skiing and quiet early morning activities so parents have a chance to sleep in.
A family reunion like Christmas or a wedding can be quite a mental challenge. As the nanny, you will have to find the correct balance of letting relatives spend time with your charges and doing what you feel is best for them. Do you let the grandparents tell the children they can stay up longer, or do you take the responsible decision of sticking to their usual bedtime? You’ll have to be open to listen to recommendations and suggestions from everyone who has the best interest in the children, even though as a professional, you sometimes know what they are saying isn’t actually as beneficial as they believe.
Once you find out what occasion it is, find out what your nanny duties will be during the trip. If you are traveling with your regular family, you need to determine whether you will be working your regular hours and if so, if you will be receiving an overnight fee for being away from home. If you will be traveling with a new family, find out how many hours they can guarantee, if you will have a set schedule or what the maximum amount of hours you will be willing to work would be. Keep in mind you are allowed to communicate what hours and compensation you find acceptable for the family’s upcoming travels so the parents and yourself come to an agreement you’re both comfortable and happy with.
The last important topic to discuss is the accommodation. Regardless of where you are staying, if the job is more than several days, you will have to ensure you get enough sleep. In an ideal situation, the nanny should have their own room. But sometimes that just isn’t an option or you might even be hired specifically for overnights. Check if the accommodation is in line with what the parent(s) is expecting from you. Some parents ask you not to leave the property. Make sure you will have enough space and amenities to keep the children entertained. Other parents will want you to explore. In that case, check out what transportation will be available if the area is safe and if you are comfortable roaming around the travel location.
Once you feel comfortable with the expectations it’s time to negotiate an hourly rate and contract. Don’t settle for less than you deserve because YOU will be “traveling”. The most important thing you need to realize is that no matter how luxurious, adventurous or tropical the trip will be, you will never experience it the same way as you would if you would be traveling to the same destination on your own. Some might find it hard, I, on the other hand, feel there’s nothing better than exploring a place through the eyes of a child.
*Every family and every trip is unique. In the article above I try to describe common categories and situations, but ultimately it is up to you to figure out what the job and its exact expectations will be like.