The Traveling Nanny

I once had an ocean massage – a massage, in the ocean – on a workday.  Being a travel nanny can certainly have its perks!

You’ve probably clued on to the fact that it has its downsides, too.  All work does, all travel does, and catching baby’s poo in your hands isn’t fun, even if you’re in beautiful Switzerland.

The keys to a successful travel nanny relationship are the same as any other nanny day – it all depends on your attitude, and on everyone being on the same page.

It’s important to manage your expectations about a travel role.  Be excited, research the area and what you can do on your day off, start dreaming about the foods you’ll eat.  But remember: this is a work trip for you, not a holiday.

There may be some disappointing moments where you miss out on an activity the parents or family are doing, or you may get sick of the same room service menu when that incredible restaurant you Googled is just down the street.

Reframing the experience and focusing on the level of service you are providing, what you will do when you have your day off, or any positives about the trip will help prevent grumpy nanny syndrome.

Going the extra mile to ensure the family have an amazing trip can come back to reward you in unexpected ways and lead to more travel bookings if you want them.  Allowing parents to sleep in, or providing a “wow” activity inside a boring hotel room will go a long way to earning your travel nanny gold star.

But there’s another side to the attitude a travel nanny should carry: always remember that you are traveling as a valued service provider.  Don’t let anyone convince you to reduce your standard rate because they are paying for your flights, or taking you on “holidays”.

And so we come to the part about making sure everyone is on the same page.  The easiest way to do this- say it with me: A CONTRACT.

Whether you are traveling with the family you work for every week, or will be working with a new family, it’s a good idea to discuss everyone’s expectations and put an agreement in writing.

Set out the hours that are expected.  This may be a start and finish time for each day, or a maximum amount of hours per week, or in some cases, 24/7 care may be required, and should be paid appropriately.  Personally, I will work whatever hours are needed as long as I have one full day every week.

In regards to remuneration, it is standard for families to pay for all travel costs (flights or similar), all accommodation, and all meals.  Sometimes a nanny may be expected to pay for meals on their day off.

Clearly state the pay rate in writing (per hour, per day or per week, overtime rate, and the overnight rate if applicable) and the timeframe for payment – this may be at the end of each week, or at the end of the trip.  Regardless of how the pay rate is worded, ensure that your rate does not fall below the legal minimums.

Discuss sleeping arrangements, as you will want to make sure you have your own space to retreat to at the end of each day, or be compensated fairly if you will share a room.

As with the nanny world in general, the duties in one travel role can be poles apart from the duties in another.  It’s a good idea to discuss the family’s requirements before setting off.

If all of these topics seem hard to bring up, imagine how much harder it will be to discuss when you are in another state or country!  When initiating the conversation, use a positive phrase along the lines of “In order to help everything run smoothly, I wanted to ask about…”, or “I’m committed to helping make this the best family holiday you’ve ever had! Planning is key to any holiday, so I was hoping to discuss…”

It’s great to know that in this social age we live in, you are never disconnected from advice and support – if you find yourself in a sticky situation, jump straight on that Nanny Love Facebook group for a whole world of knowledge.

Getting paid to see the world, with a beautiful babe in your arms.  The Nanny Life can be so sweet!

About Sarah Kinghorn

Sarah has been Nannying for 12 years, and has been lucky enough to work in almost as many countries as she can count. On her days off, you’ll find her buried in teething necklaces, Frozen songs and craft supplies, so if you bump into to her, feel free to tell her to be a grown up for a day. For questions, comments and collaborations, Sarah can be reached at