Traveling with a nanny can enhance any family vacation. For parents traveling with children, an extra set of helping hands can mean more alone time for Mom and Dad, one-on-one Dad and daughter time, or a relaxing nap on the airplane. It is very important, however, that expectations between the family and nanny are clearly defined before the trip to ensure a smooth working relationship and a happy travel experience.
At Adventure Nannies, our families commonly ask what they are expected to provide for their nanny while traveling. While each family’s budget is different, we recommend a basic list of travel accommodations that every family should provide when traveling with a nanny to ensure that the nanny/family relationship is well-defined, easy, and fun.
Families should cover all of the nanny’s transportation costs associated with traveling to and from the vacation destination. If the nanny is traveling with the family and expected to be “on” with the children (which is highly likely if, say, the nanny is sitting next to the children on an airplane) he or she should be paid for travel time. Some families also choose to pay nannies for their travel time, even when not “on the clock,” in consideration for the fact that they are not otherwise available to spend their time freely.
Examples of transportation costs covered by families are: shuttle to the airport, airfare, train tickets or a subway card.
Many families wonder, “Why book a private room for the nanny, when (s)he can simply stay in the same room as the children?” While this may initially seem simpler (and honestly, cheaper) we highly urge our families to book private accommodations for their nanny.
Without clear, tangible boundaries between the nanny and the children, it can be nearly impossible to distinguish between time “on” and “off” the clock, which can result in disputes about overtime pay and a possibly disgruntled nanny.
If it is absolutely essential for the nanny to sleep in the same room as the child (for example, a child who has an illness which requires around-the-clock attention) we recommend clearly outlining exactly what the nanny’s working hours and pay will be for the arrangement, then building in an ample amount of free time for the nanny to rest up--privately.
Overnight Pay and Overtime
If a nanny is expected to be available to the children in the middle of the night, this should be reflected in the nanny’s paycheck. Even if the nanny has a private room, and the children are unlikely to wake, some sort of compensation should be made for the “on call” responsibility.
Some families choose to pay their nanny a flat overnight fee while other families offer a continuous hourly pay, depending on the level of overnight responsibility and number of hours the nanny is expected to be ‘on.’ It is important to note that if a nanny is working overnight, and receives fewer than 5 hours of sleep, the nanny is entitled to continuous overnight pay by law, and minimum wage regulations apply. If a nanny has private accommodations and is not expected to work overnight at all, no overnight compensation is necessary.
Similarly, a nanny is entitled to overtime pay when traveling, but how much is determined by the nanny’s state of residence. We recommend contacting our partners (and nanny tax experts) at Home Pay by Breedlove to help you organize your nanny’s payroll.
No matter how you choose to proceed, you should ensure that your nanny is informed of your compensation plan in writing before the trip. Keep a continuous record of your nanny’s working hours and ask your nanny to do the same. Openly address any discrepancies directly with your nanny as they occur.
Meals should be provided for the nanny while he or she is on duty. Many families also offer meal stipends or per diems for the nanny’s days off--particularly when the family is traveling to a location with a higher cost of living or a different currency than the nanny’s hometown.
Sometimes our families keep what we refer to as an “open fridge” policy. In this policy, the family offers the nanny access to any food in their refrigerator (usually in a vacation home or villa) at all working and non-working times, only picking up the bill at a restaurant when the nanny is dining with the children. In our experience, this policy plays out very fairly for both nannies and parents.
With whatever meal policy our families choose, we recommend doing extensive currency research beforehand and setting reasonable meal accommodations for the nanny’s days off.
Although time off is not technically an expense, it is one of the most important considerations for families to make when planning to bring a nanny on vacation. We encourage our families to factor in ample downtime to their nanny’s schedule, particularly while traveling!
Depending on the length of a trip, a nanny should have 1-2 days off per week, and at least an hour or 2 of “me time” each day. Giving the nanny time to rest, recharge, and enjoy the travel destination will ensure the highest quality of childcare. While nannies are exceptional, talented professionals, they are human and need to recharge their batteries in order to do their best job possible.
We understand, however, that a traveling schedule can be unpredictable and grueling. If for some reason, the nanny is needed to work a rigorous schedule (for example, 10 or more hours per day without days off) we encourage families to offer a few days off (depending on the length of the trip and the nature of the nanny’s long-term employment) once you return home to give the nanny time to catch up on rest.
While these aren’t hard and fast rules, following these guidelines will ensure that any vacation or travel experience with your nanny will be as pleasant as possible. Happy nanny, happy family!