Received Friday, July 25, 2008. - Perspective & Opinion
It may seem decadent, but I’m not at all embarrassed to admit that we travel with our Nanny when we think it will make the trip go better. Bringing her along gives us the flexibility to see the sights we’re interested at an adult pace and to go out for a few special meals. We also know that our kids are well cared and comfortable with a familiar person when we’re out and about.
It’s important to set some ground rules up front so that everyone has the same expectations of the trip. Your nanny may be expecting an all expenses paid vacation while you’re expecting round the clock care for your kids in exchange for footing the bill. Your nanny may not have a lot of experience with travel and may need some help adjusting. Finally, it can be difficult to travel with others, you need to set things up to minimize any possible points of friction… after all, you’re probably hoping that you’ll employ your nanny for years.
Passport & Visas
Verify that your nanny has a passport and the visas she needs, you don’t want to find out at the last minute that there is a problem. If your nanny does not have a passport, you might want to help get things started, and you’ll certainly want to pay for any application fees
It’s important to have clear communication about expenses up front. What will you be paying for on the trip, and what will the Nanny be responsible for? Here are some examples:
* Travel (air, train, etc) to and from destination
* Hotel or Vacation rental expenses
* Meals. You might have a different policy when dining with family than when dining alone
* Activities and admissions with kids or family
* Telephone calls home
* Transportation at the destination
* Luggage storage at an airport or train station
* Internet café expenses
You’ll need to decide whether you expect your Nanny to share a room with your children or want to provide a separate space. It’s more expensive to give the Nanny privacy, but giving her a space to call her own can help her be better rested and more mentally available to your kids during the day.
Whatever your decision, you should communicate clearly with the Nanny about what to expect.
You’ll need to arrange to pay the Nanny while you’re on the road. If you don’t have direct deposit set up, you may want to give her post dated checks that someone can mail to the bank for her or pay her in cash in local currency.
Decide whether you will provide a per-diem to compensate her for the extra difficulty and expense of being away from home? (some people pay up to $50 per day, but expect round the clock availability in return.) We give a small amount extra if we feel that expenses are more (due to the low dollar) in our destination.
It’s important that your communication about work hours and overtime pay be just as clear while you’re travelling as it is at home.
I go so far as to bring a printed calendar with me on trips and write the planned hours & actual hours on each day.
We set expectations in advance with the nanny that the work schedule will be different than it is at home. Here’s how we have chosen to do things:
* We set a schedule at the beginning of each week of travel. During the week we track the actual hours and adjust the schedule as needed.
* We pay for each hour that the nanny is in transit with us, and expect her to work during that time (ie. From the time she arrives at our home until the time we reach our destination)
* We set up the schedule so that we have more hours with the kids during the day than we would at home & several date nights a week. The travel hours usually eat into the schedule enough that we have lots of daytime hours with the kids to enjoy our destination.
* We always give a day off after a travel day. Travel days can be stressful and it’s good to give everyone a little time apart to recuperate. Also, we want the nanny to have time to scope out the destination before she’s responsible for entertaining the kids.
Not being in your house and in your usual environment will bring up a lot of new questions about what’s expected. Also, unless you have a live-in Nanny, this is probably the first time you’ve shared a space. You’ll want to make sure you answer any questions the Nanny has and set expectations up front about what will be different and what will not change even though you’re all “on vacation”
* Remind your nanny that the kids continue to be her first priority when she is working. Any personal sightseeing or shopping needs to be done on her own time.
* Once you’ve ironed out exactly what you expect in terms of work schedule, remind her that because you’ll be sharing a space, she’s likely to get woken up at night if the kids wake up and that the kids will see her coming and going. Explain that of course you’ll all try to be sensitive about this, but make sure she realizes that she’ll not be able to totally walk away from work as she might at home.
* Nighttime work is a little different than at home as well, if you’re sharing an apartment, is it ok for her to go to bed once the kids are asleep? Or do you expect her to wait up until you are home? Our policy is that the nanny can sleep once the kids are settled, as long as there is a baby monitor or some way for her to hear them and attend to them.
* Review any special safety issues related to your destination (E.g. only bottled water, no taxi rides, parts of town to avoid, etc)
* You’ll want to decide what types of activities she can take the kids to do. Can she take them on public transit? To a museum? How should she expect to be reimbursed for these activities?
* Is the nanny still responsible for household chores that she would normally do in your home?
* What is your policy about the Nanny bringing guests into your shared space?
* If there are any limitations on how much luggage your nanny can bring (perhaps you have booked a rental car with a small trunk) or if you anticipate needing her to have hands free to help with the kids on travel days, let her know in advance so that she can pack light.