Thursday, February 25, 2010
Travel Together: Family-Nanny Travel Tips
No matter what time of year we get questions from both nannies and families asking for travel tips – how to make the experience positive, how to set expectations, how to prepare, and many more. Nannies who travel with their employer families and families who have their nannies travel with them have a unique experience ahead of them. The key is planning and preparing in advance, being clear about expectations and boundaries. The bottom line is that this is the family’s vacation and the nanny is included as the child care provider. Ideally everyone should come home with fond memories and good feelings.
Families will want to think through their child care needs while planning the trip. Will the nanny be working the same hours as their usual schedule? What expectations do you have for the nanny during the trip? How will the nanny be compensated for their services to the family during the trip? Planning ahead for expenses is important. It is typically understood that all transportation, lodging, meals and required activities are covered by the family. The nanny is responsible for her personal expenses (souvenirs, activity expenses when not on duty, etc.). Discussing all aspects of the trip with the nanny well in advance of the trip is essential – any specific dress expectations, type of lodging accommodations, special activities and specific child care responsibilities. Both parties should be sensitive to the fact that spending so much time together can be complicated.
Nannies should make sure that they are “up” for travel with their employer family. The potential of travel with the family should be discussed when interviewing with the family initially if possible. Understanding that this is the family’s vacation and not your own is crucial. Knowing the family’s expectations will help in the preparation. Being with the family in a vacation setting isn’t the same as working from the family’s home. Be prepared for additional or different duties, and likely a change in schedule or routine. Off hours may also be different due to schedule changes or plans for the day or evening, not to mention your location.
Travel with the family I work for is always a special experience. We have made car trips to Wisconsin, Illinois, Florida, Arizona, Yellowstone and points west. Our plane trips have included Washington D.C., Florida, Hawaii and Mexico. We have enjoyed a Disney cruise, and most recently spent 5 days in London. Some trips have included other family members or friends. Planning, patience and flexibility have become watch words. Having a team-work approach helps each trip go smoother from packing to destination and home again.
No matter the children’s ages, their interests have been incorporated in the planning. By balancing activities and downtime children of all ages can be wonderful travelers. Researching your destination helps in planning clothing choices, activities and age appropriate venues. We also made sure that we bring little comforts from home – games, stuffed animal, familiar snacks, their favorite music, etc. In planning we’ve also tried to be thoughtful about the shifts in the children’s usual routine. Keeping changes to bedtime and mealtimes to a minimum has kept us from major meltdowns, as well as pacing sightseeing and other activities to include downtime and snack breaks.
Be ready for the unexpected and spontaneous – don’t have such a tight or rigid schedule that you miss opportunities that pop up. Traveling together can be a memorable and wonderful experience for everyone if you are prepared. Happy travels!