Do's and Dont's of Traveling with a Nanny

A woman sitting on a plane with a child on her lap

Summer is here and that means it is vacation time for many families. If you have a full time nanny, you might have considered taking her on your trip to help with the children and possibly to allow for a little adult time. Traveling with your nanny can be a really great experience for everyone. However, to ensure that both your family and your nanny are still happy by the end of the trip, don’t overlook the importance of discussing expectations and arrangements with your nanny before you board the plane or load the car.

Kelly*, a nanny in Indiana, was looking forward to traveling with the family she worked for full time. Unfortunately, when they arrived at their vacation destination, she found herself not only taking care of several additional children from other families, but also working far more hours than she had anticipated. Worse, the family didn't compensate her for the extra responsibilities or hours.

"Before you leave for the vacation, it is very important for you sit down together and work something out so you know what the expectations for each other are," says Candi Wingate, President of Nannies 4 Hire. Following are suggestions that should help make a vacation with your nanny successful.


While this might seem obvious, do not overlook such an important issue. Wingate notes that you must talk about whether your nanny will be paid hourly or weekly. If you're paying weekly, be sure to discuss how many hours that entails. Remember that time exceeding those hours should be compensated additionally. Furthermore, decide when you will pay your nanny - for example, will you pay her the entire amount at the end of the vacation, or will you pay her a percentage at the beginning and the rest at the end?


Will your nanny have her own room and bathroom? Or will she share with the children? Determine the living arrangements for your vacation and then review them with your nanny. No matter how long she has been your nanny or how close she is with your family, make sure she feels comfortable with the sleeping arrangements.


Consider whether your nanny is going along in a "Mother's helper" role, where she and the children accompany you on all activities, whether she is going mainly to entertain the children while you enjoy your time separately, or more likely, a combination of the two. Talk to her about the specific responsibilities she will have during the vacation and potential ones that may come up during your time away. Also be sure to note how many hours you would like her to work. Once on vacation, if you decide to give your nanny additional duties, Kelly stresses the importance of both informing her -- versus simply leaving the children for an unplanned adult night out, for example -- and of compensating her fairly. Nobody likes to feel taken advantage of and unappreciated.


Wingate cautions parents not to overlook this. You are likely to each at least one meal at a restaurant each day, possibly more, and Wingate notes that it is your responsibility to pay for your nanny's meals. However, this doesn't mean that your nanny should order lobster and oysters every time! Unless you're on an unlimited budget -- and who is these days?! -- be sure to note how much you feel comfortable allocating to each meal, keeping in mind the price structure of the restaurants you will visit. There is no reason that you should worry that your nanny is going to break the bank ordering whatever she wants every day, just as there is no reason your nanny should feel uncomfortable each time she order. Discuss it ahead of time so everyone is on the same page.

As for flights and accommodations, it goes without saying that it is your responsibility to cover these. However, if you nanny wishes to purchase souvenirs or anything "extra" on the trip, unless you specifically decide otherwise, she's on her own!

Other considerations worth noting

Although it might not immediately come to mind when thinking about a vacation, Wingate suggests having a discussion about "dress code". What is appropriate attire for your family? For example, Wingate says that "some families don't mind at all if their nanny wears a bikini on their beach vacation, while the next family might find it unacceptable, so be clear". Setting unambiguous expectations ahead of time will help prevent awkward or upsetting situations for everyone.

Finally, remember that even though you are on vacation, your nanny is working! As Wingate says, "Some people think that because they taking their nanny on vacation, they can pay her less or not pay her at all. That's just not true. She's there to work". Sure, being able to travel to a fun or new place is definitely a perk of the job, but again, the key word is job.

"Basically, communication is key. If the family is clear in the beginning, it will make for a much smoother vacation", advises Wingate. Plan, talk and most importantly, have a great vacation!

*names have been changed. This article is by Laura Willard published in Pregnancy & Baby on

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